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Lawrence County’s new deputy breaking down gender barriers

MONTICELLO — A wide smile and a wave of greeting may be thefirst impressions a person gets when they meet Heather Hoskins,Lawrence County’s newest deputy.

“It’s important to enjoy your work, and I really do. I likepeople and enjoy helping them. I wave to everyone,” Hoskins saidwith a laugh.

Hoskins has been with the sheriff’s office for quite some time,but many only knew her as a disembodied voice over the scanner,dispatching deputies to various calls. However, more people havecome to know her since she became a road deputy on Sept. 1.

Sheriff Joel Thames said he is not surprised about the goodresponse.

“I have heard nothing but positive things from the community andcounty about her,” he said. “I think it’s about time we have afull-time female officer.”

Hoskins, who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in criminaljustice at the University of Southern Mississippi in 1998, said hergender is beneficial to the department in more ways than simplyallowing the department to search women during raids.

The sheriff agrees.

“I feel we’re very fortunate to have her in our department,”Thames said. “I feel she will be a great asset in dealing withdomestic violence issues, child abuse cases and other crimes.”

A woman’s concern often adds a different perspective to a case,Hoskins said, and many times she can learn more than a maleofficer.

“Women seem more apt to open up to me in certain type cases,”she said. “I can understand that, I would feel more comfortablegiving personal information to another woman than I would aman.”

That fits her style, she said, because the reality is that manymen are not intimidated by a woman with a badge.

“I don’t try to intimidate anyone,” Hoskins said. “I don’t thinka badge provides much intimidation by itself anymore. I try to usea personal approach. I try to talk them through the problem.

“I’ve often found that a lot of people just need someone to heartheir problems,” she added. “A lot of problems can be resolved justby listening to them.”

Hoskins, a Lawrence County native, attended Topeka-Tilton Schooluntil the eighth grade before graduating from Brookhaven Academy in1993. She began immediately attending Copiah-Lincoln CommunityCollege as an undeclared freshman.

“That’s where I really decided to go into criminal justice,” shesaid. “When I started at Co-Lin I didn’t know what I wanted todo.”

While attending the junior college, an instructor introduced herto child abuse cases. It was her first exposure to law enforcementas a career choice.

The interest gained there in children’s cases carried over toUSM. While attaining her degree, Hoskins served as a volunteer fororganizations like Big Sisters and Court Appointed Special Advocate(CASA), where she acted as the child’s voice in court.

Hoskins continues to work with children in her role as a countydeputy. She said her duties include school liaison and working withthe Boys and Girls Club. She also has the title andresponsibilities of juvenile officer.

Hoskins is married to Shayne Hoskins, and they in the New HopeCommunity.