DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. – When Betsy Gelardi became a police officer 28 years ago, she was the only woman in the Dobbs Ferry police department and was the youngest officer. Life on the force wasn't easy then, but times have changed for Gelardi, who is now entering her fifth year as chief of police in Dobbs Ferry.
"When you're new and you're the youngest and least senior, I think you're intimidated more," Gelardi said. "Now I think I'm the oldest, the most senior and really not intimidated at all."
She is still the only woman in the department, but Gelardi said she doesn't think about that anymore. She started as a patrol officer and quickly moved through the ranks as a youth officer, sergeant and lieutenant before becoming chief. Before joining the police force, Gelardi was a nurse at several health care facilities in Dobbs Ferry.
"They're actually very similar in the fact that you're helping people," she said of the jobs. "You're just helping them in a different way."
Although nursing was rewarding, Gelardi said she felt caged at times, stuck on one floor in one building for an entire shift, which led her to pursue a career in law enforcement.
"There is no typical day, which is what I like most about this job," she said.
The Dobbs Ferry officers are dedicated to community outreach, Gelardi said, with programs such as forensic and drug and alcohol awareness classes in schools and senior citizen programs aimed at preventing identity theft. The Dobbs Ferry department is busier than others with regular patrols, community outreach and a large population of students, Gelardi said. But that only makes the job more interesting.
"This job has been very good to me," Gelardi said. "I've enjoyed my time here. I've just learned so much about people, and I just really enjoy what I do."