LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - As a 14-year veteran of the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office Sgt. Mary Pierrottie is ready for what any shift might bring..
"Night or day, I go out on the street and see what I can find," said Pierrottie.
Growing up she always wanted to be in law enforcement but said she waited a long time before accepting the challenge.
"I was a single mom and finally one day I just woke up and decided I was going to go apply. I applied and the Sheriff's Office and got on with corrections. I never looked back," recalled Pierrottie.
When she told her family she was applying they were very supportive.
"They of course had concerns for my safety but have always been 100% supportive. And they are proud of what I do and know I love it," said Pierrottie.
After working two years in corrections she realized she wanted to be on the road and made the transition to patrol.
"It is a little bit more of a challenge out here because in corrections you've got back up usually standing next to you. Out here your back up could be a few minutes away. So you have to be on your toes at all times," said Pierrottie. "You don't have to be sitting behind a desk all day long. This car is my desk. I never know. I may get a call in a minute and we may be going to Vinton. Wherever you are needed is where you go."
Call after call, stop after stop - deputies never know what to expect or what they will find. During our ride along one traffic stop lead to the discovery of hydrocodone and somas.
"The driver had some prescription pills on her that didn't belong to her. So she's going to be checking into our hotel for a little while," said Pierrottie.
For the past four years Pierrottie has been a shift supervisor. It's another challenge she took on with the full support of her fellow deputies.
"I don't look at it as male/female thing I look at it as I'm a deputy. This is just the way it is," said Pierrottie. "The guys know I'm going to back them up and I know they've got my back. I don't shy away from danger. If I see the guys are having to handle somebody or they are having to fight with somebody. I'm right there with them."
Pierrottie admits respect is sometimes hard to come by from the public, but said she can hold her own.
"Of course they sometimes look at you differently. I've had men size me up. But I have confidence to handle the situation. I've even had women try to challenge me," said Pierrottie.
While she gets her fair share of traffic stops, DWI arrests and house calls - Pierrottie knows not every call is what it seems.
"Sometimes there may be probable cause to check for other things. A driver could have their tail light out and when we pull them over we can smell alcohol or drugs. We always have to be aware for other things," said Pierrottie.
Like any good cop she also knows nerves are a good thing.
"If you don't fear this job to a certain extent then you need to find a new job. There are no routine calls in this line of work. It may be something you have gone to on 20 times before. It takes one time for something to be different," said Pierrottie.