CLEVELAND COUNTY, Okla. - The Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office has a new detective hitting the streets Monday. While she may not be the first female detective they’ve ever had, she’s already breaking barriers.
“My goals have always been ‘become a deputy, then become a detective.’ I had no idea it would happen the way that it did,” said Det. Elexa Sanders with the Cleveland County Sheriff's Office.
At only 26 years old, Sanders is now taking on the role of detective, a dream she’s had for as long as she can remember.
“When I was younger, I would tell my parents, ‘when I grow up, I want to be a police officer,’” Sanders said.
She’s been with the sheriff’s office for five years now. Starting from the bottom as a correctional officer in the jail, working her way up to deputy, and now detective.
But it took a lot of hard work and perseverance to get her here. Sanders became a mother at the young age of 16. She knew that she wanted to be a positive role model for her daughter.
“Once I had her, I was in high school and I knew that I didn’t want to give up on my goals or my dreams. So, every morning I woke up, I would pray. I would say, ‘God, just give me the strength to just keep pushing.’ And I did,” Sanders said.
In college, she majored in criminal justice. Sanders also worked through the COPS program while still working in the jail.
“I just worked hard for it and spent time in school and in the jail, trying to learn as much as I could, so I could have a little bit of experience before going out on the streets,” Sanders said.
While law enforcement is a job you primarily see men in, Sanders said that never held her back.
“It just made me want to work harder. I want all the women to know that you can accomplish anything,” Sanders said.
Sanders said she owes a lot of her accomplishments to her family, who has supported her every step of the way.
Sheriff Todd Gibson presented Sanders with her detective badge during a ceremony with her friends and family. Now, she’s the only female detective on the force.
“She exemplifies all that we’re looking for. But what sets her apart is she is a strong woman that is a hard worker. She’s very tenacious and that’s exactly the kind of person we’re looking for to be a detective,” Gibson said.
Detective Sanders has a message for any young person who’s trying to reach their own goals.
“Just never give up on your dreams and goals. If you want something in life, you have to work hard for it,” Sanders said. “As long as you have that determination and that faith in yourself, you can accomplish anything you want.”