UPPER MARLBORO — The Town of Upper Marlboro welcomed its first female officer.

Cpl. Katherine de Barros comes to the town with more than 26 years of law enforcement experience. She was sworn in by the town’s chief of police, David A. Burse, on Oct. 22 before the Board of Town Commissioners meeting.

“I have always loved being a police officer, and I am eager to bring my knowledge and expertise to the Town of Upper Marlboro,” de Barros said.

De Barros began her law enforcement career with the Washington Metropolitan Police Department and then joined the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD). According to city officials, de Barros received several commendations for her work as a patrol officer, and she received her rank of corporal within the county police force.

“We are extremely pleased to have someone with Corporal de Barros’ expertise joining our police department,” Mayor Wanda Leonard said. “Her credentials and background speak for themselves. We are especially proud to point out that Corporal de Barros is the first female officer we have ever had in our town police department.”

According to Burse, de Barros has shown a dedication to the communities she has served and brings a commitment to community policing, which is a philosophy that places officers in areas where they can get to know the residents.

“As a law enforcement professional, Corporal de Barros has always been committed to the welfare of the community and was particularly dedicated to listening to and addressing the public safety concerns of the citizens of Prince George’s County,” Burse said. “In addition to enforcing the law, she also volunteered for different community events at local churches and schools.

According to the U.S Department of Justice, community policing recognizes that the police cannot solve issues of public safety alone. However, with the trust and help of the community law enforcement, overcoming challenges becomes more possible.

Community policing can help increase trust in the police by making officers more accessible and visible.

Instead of only appearing when incidents or crimes have been committed, officers are seen interacting in positive ways within the community. For instance, volunteering at school fairs, playing local sports games with children, or mentoring citizens within the community.

“(de Barros has) enjoyed working with the citizens and believes that a police officer can be essential in gaining the trust of the community, which will help solve crimes and lead to resolutions to immediate community problems,” Burse said. “We are happy that she will bring that attitude and approach to our department.”

Upper Marlboro is only about 0.4 square miles and has a long history dating back to colonial times.

According to the most recent U.S. Census data, the town has an estimate of 673 residents. However, much of the region around the incorporated Town of Upper Marlboro constitutes the Greater Upper Marlboro area, which, according to the city, is about one-fifth of the geographical area of Prince George’s County.

Ray Feldmann, who serves the city of Upper Marlboro as a public information officer, said that the town does not see a whole lot of law enforcement activity related to crime. Still, officers are often called on for traffic-related cases and routine policing.

“There’s not a real serious crime problem within the town limits that the town’s police department has to deal with,” Feldmann said.

When asked about the department’s hiring policies, Burse said that he does not know why it took Upper Marlboro so long to add a female officer to their police force.

“I got here in January, and one of the things I noticed by looking through somebody’s old papers and files was that there had never been a female officer working here,” Burse said. “Under my administration’s leadership, that’s a priority that we have both men and women serving within the police department because that’s our constituent, men, and women.”

City and police officials agreed in saying de Barros will make a promising addition to the police force. She has training in areas like Community Oriented Policing, Conflict Resolution and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. She also has certifications in Crisis Intervention, Mountain Biking, and in the Multi-Jurisdictional Counter Drug Task Force.

De Barros began her first full day of work as an Upper Marlboro police officer on Oct. 23

“For me, working in law enforcement has never been just a job or a career,” de Barros said. “It has been a lifestyle choice, and I look forward to making a positive difference in this community.”

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