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First female member of Provo SWAT team balances between 'mom and officer mode'

(Provo Police Department)

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PROVO — It's a job traditionally handled by men, but a female police officer in Provo is taking her place as the first woman on the department's SWAT team.

Members of the SWAT team are the elite of the police department, and for Nisha Henderson, making the team is a dream come true. Henderson notes that she is tough while on duty, but soft at the end of the day when she takes off the badge to be mom.

"I would say this job isn't for everybody,” Henderson said.

But being a police officer is a perfect fit for her, a job that is even more fulfilling now that she is on the SWAT team, Henderson explains.

"It is something I have wanted to do all of my career,” Henderson said.

But it was a difficult journey to get here.

"I came for two years, volunteered my time and came and trained with them just to learn the tactics,” Henderson said.

Now, all of her hard work is paying off, she said.

Male, female, that is not something we look at, we look at her as a professional police officer and as a SWAT operator, and she has done that.

–Todd Grossgebauer

"I feel very fortunate to be the first female on the team. To me it is important to tell women in the community and girls in the community — you know if you set your mind to something you can do anything you want,” Henderson said.

“She has been a great contribution to the team,” police officer Todd Grossgebauer said.

Police officials insist that Henderson is getting no special consideration because of her gender. They say she earned her spot on the team.

“Male, female, that is not something we look at. We look at her as a professional police officer and as a SWAT operator, and she has done that,” Grossgebauer said.

Henderson admits that she is tough while on the job, but knows what her role is when she is off duty.

"I go home and my kids have learned that when I get home, ‘Let mom go take police off.’ I get out of my uniform and get changed so I can get in mom mode,” Henderson said.

Whether she is out on the range, in training or responding to a real SWAT incident, Henderson said she's proud to be with SWAT.

“I can say first female, but at the end of the day, I am held to the same standard the guys are on the team. We're teammates, it's like I have a whole bunch of brothers who have my back all the time,” Henderson said.

Henderson said that the best part of being on the SWAT team is responding to an incident and using the SWAT training and tactics to help it end peacefully, knowing everyone involved is safe.


Sam Penrod


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