MIDWEST CITY — Lt. Laura Henry recently became only the third woman to attain the rank of first line police supervisor in Midwest City and is the only woman to hold the post currently.
Henry grew up in Midwest City but moved away for a time while her husband was in the Air Force. She always remembered it as her home and wanted a career that would allow her to work closely with the community.
Law enforcement appealed to her, and Henry knew from her brother, a police officer in Tuscon, Ariz., and her husband, an officer in neighboring Del City, that police work could be a fulfilling career.
“When I started working here, I didn’t want to go anywhere else,” Henry said. “The other officers are like family to me.”
She went to work for the Midwest City Police Department in 2004 as a jailer, and within two years had advanced to become an officer on the swing shift. Supervisors and fellow officers saw Henry as an exceptional member of the department.
“Laura stood out,” Assistant Chief Sid Porter said. “It was her character, her drive, her leadership. She has a compassion for people and really cares about them. Women and children especially, who have been victims of crimes, feel comfortable around her.”
Henry received training to become a member of the crisis intervention team, which prepares officers to handle situations involving people who are mentally ill.
“Sometimes people come into law enforcement, or just life, with biases against the mentally ill,” Henry said. “Crisis intervention training gives you a wide understanding of the whole picture so you’re better equipped to understand those people and their families.”
Henry also became a defensive tactics instructor for the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training, or CLEET, teaching cadets at the police academy proper techniques for using a Taser and handcuffs, as well as jiujitsu-based grappling for self-defense. There are no separate male and female standards, but one single standard for anyone trying to qualify to teach for CLEET. Henry is one of only six women instructors in the state.
Recently, Henry applied for a promotion to lieutenant. As part of the qualification process, she took a 100-question written test for which she rigorously studied law, policy and procedure. She was evaluated by three outside assessors from departments in Oklahoma City, Norman and Edmond.
“It felt like something I was supposed to do,” Henry said. “It was a calling. I tried to work hard, and luckily, I was blessed to get selected.”
Henry has plans for a lifelong commitment to the department. Porter said there is no doubt in his mind she will go far.
“We’re excited for Laura’s future, and this is just the first line of supervision,” he said. “I expect that Laura will just keep moving up. That’s what’s great about her being supervisor. With leadership like that, she can pass it on to other people and train them.”