AZTEC, N.M. — One New Mexico county has its first female SWAT operator, a reflection of the increasing role of women in police departments across the nation.

Juan County Deputy Robyn Roe wanted to become a SWAT member because of her military experience, the Daily Times reported ( ) earlier this week. Roe served a tour in Afghanistan with the Army National Guard in 2013 and 2014. She was a motor transportation operator.

She recently finished a six-year enlistment and in June re-enlisted for another six-year term.

“I don’t feel like I’m doing anything special,” Roe said. “But I understand that it is a big accomplishment. But personally, I don’t think it is.”

She would tell women interested in law enforcement it’s a male-dominated profession, but they can do anything they set their minds to, Roe said.

A 2015 report from the U.S. Department of Justice showed that about 58,000, or 12 percent, of full-time sworn police personnel were women. That was an increase from 1987, when about 27,000, or 8 percent, of full-time sworn personnel in police departments were women.

The Farmington Police Department also has a woman rising through the ranks. It recently named a woman lieutenant for the first time in about 18 years.

Lt. Sierra Tafoya of the professional standards division was promoted in July after serving as a sergeant working the graveyard shift on patrol. “I learned very quickly that I didn’t like sitting behind a desk, and I wanted to do something where every day was unpredictable,” Tafoya said.

It was difficult for Tafoya when she started as an officer. She said she held herself to a higher level of expectations then, as she felt singled out because there was a lack of female officers in the county.

“Working at night is what I’ve worked primarily throughout my career. (I) was only female (officer) working in the entire county,” Tafoya said. “Now we’re growing in numbers, and there are more women joining the law enforcement family.”

Farmington police have 16 full-time sworn female officers, up from about six or seven female officers who were on staff when Tafoya started.

Supporting women in law enforcement is one of the reasons Tafoya is the chair of the planning committee for the second annual Southwest Women in Law Enforcement conference.

Information from: The Daily Times,

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