FRANKLIN COUNTY, Idaho — If you would have asked Deputy Karen Hatch when she was in elementary school what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would have said a policeman.
Years later, the married mother of two is living her dream. Deputy Hatch is the first woman patrol officer in the history of Franklin County, including Preston City.
The Sky View High School graduate studied law enforcement at Idaho State University.
Hatch was screened from about 30 applicants who applied for an opening at the Franklin County Sheriff's Office. With her resume and qualifications she rose to the top of the county's list. When Sheriff Don L. Beckstead was considering her for the job, he checked her references and had some great reports about her abilities as an officer.
Deputy Hatch came to the county with some specialized training and experience dealing with sexual and child abuse crimes.
"All of the reports on her were very positive. We heard how good she was from everyone that worked with her," the sheriff said.
"Deputy Hatch is a real asset to the law enforcement community of the county. She has been real eager to do her job and sometimes you need a female deputy. They can get into places and do things that we as male officers can't. Sometimes, for instance, women and children won't talk to a male officer real well. She is especially good with them, but she also has a good rapport with the gentlemen," he said.
Before joining the Franklin County Sheriff's office, Deputy Hatch was a patrol officer in Bear Lake County, Caribou County and Bannock County.
"I was mentored by another real good female officer on women's and children's crimes, while working in Bannock County ," Hatch said
Hatch said she is not interested in being known as a novelty among the ranks of the deputies in the sheriff's department. She said she feels more comfortable being known as just one of the guys.
"I had a little apprehension about her being on patrol on her own. I don't anymore ; she knows how to present herself and can handle most situations. Hatch is just one of the deputies; that's the way she wants it, and the other deputies want her to feel that way, too," Beckstead said.
"For the first woman in the department, she fits in real good. The guys have accepted her. She brings out the best in all of us. We are happy she is on board with us," the sheriff said.
Chief Deputy Captain David Fryar said Deputy Hatch came to Franklin County with a lot of great experience in law enforcement.
"She worked jail, patrol and detectives and is a tremendous advocate for protecting children. She is the kind of person that does not need to be told what to do and will always be looking for ways to be productive ," Deputy Fryar said.
When the county jail population is sometimes as much as 40 percent female, it can't hurt to have a female officer to deal with them.
"The most impressive thing to me is she is a well-rounded law enforcement officer with a tremendous background in investigative skills. She has definitely been a positive in our department," Fryar said.
The chief deputy said it might be significant that she is the first female officer in the county, but they really don't see her any different than anyone else.
"We have a great group of hard working officers on board in our department," Fryar said.