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First woman K-9 officer on her journey to making history in Memphis Police Department

Jane Martin explained that law enforcement was not always in her plans, and she is glad that she gave it a try because it turned out to be very rewarding.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As we celebrate women here in Memphis who continue to set the standard, we want to highlight our first responders. Jane Martin is the first woman K9 officer with the Memphis Police Department.

“I didn’t really think about one day being called ‘first,’” Jane expressed. 

She said she was more focused on being a part of the department and serving the community.

“There weren’t a lot of woman. I think we all felt like we had to prove ourselves. That was a big part of it," Jane said. "Proving yourself that you could handle a job, that you were willing to do the job. You would back up any officer that would call for help.”

Jane stated that a family friend who was an officer, influenced her decision to just give a career in law enforcement a try, so she did in 1978 as a patrol officer. A decade later, she changed the paste.

“And then a friend of mine said, why don’t we try out for the dog squad? Why don’t we bid for the dog squad? I didn’t have any idea that I had enough time to get that job. You just don’t get it while you have time on the job," Jane explained. 

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The reason why is because there is an extensive process such as meeting special qualifications, taking an entry exam, and a physical test, all of which Jane passed. 

“Once I passed the physical test, then I was accepted into the next training course with the dogs,” Jane said. 

That is where her faith was tested the most.

“Some days during that training period, I was tired, I was sore. I do believe that there were some days there that I cried. I just literally cried cause I didn’t know if I could do it,” Jane said.  

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She stayed the course and her career changed for the better in 1988, when she completed training and became the first woman with MPD to do it. 

During her time as a K9 officer, she had three dog partners named Rocky, Bryan, and Rommy. Jane said they always protected her. 

“I never got hurt during my career by a suspect. Never had to pull my gun. My dog was always the main character in the play and took care of me and for that, I’m grateful.”

Jane retired in 2011 and said she would love to see more women become K-9 officers. So far, two women, including Jane have held the position.