A Kelly for a Kelly: WPD gets first female sergeant

Sergeant Kelly McCoy joins the Winters Police Department as the highest ranked officer in history of the city. Her new desk was vacated by Sergeant Kelly Schroeder who came out of retirement to serve as a temporary solution for leadership while the department sought a permanent candidate.
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Sergeant Kelly McCoy sits at her new desk at the Winters Police Department. Photo by Julia Millon

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Sergeant Kelly Schroeder, who served with the Winters Police Department for a 960-hour temporary period, gave up his desk to Sergeant Kelly McCoy on Wednesday, Jan. 10. Schroeder came out of retirement for a year to cover the beat while the department sought a permanent solution.

McCoy, who steps up as the highest ranked female police officer in the city’s history, is a force of enthusiasm and passion for her job. Having served as an interim sergeant for the Twin Rivers Police Department, McCoy is excited for the next step in her career and learning about serving a smaller community.

McCoy climbed the ranks during her eight-year appointment in Citrus Heights after working in Monterey County for 10 years, where she originally found her calling to police work and attended the police academy. Originally, McCoy had different plans and attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

“In college, I wanted to be a teacher, but I found out I didn’t enjoy it after student teaching,” she said.

“My friend found out that Monterey County was hiring police officers and said, ‘you like to boss people around and you like to shoot,’ and four and a half months later, I was in the police academy.”

McCoy eventually became a narcotics officer in Monterey County, where undercover work gave her a more compassionate perspective toward disadvantaged communities, especially for the youth of that population.

“Kids grow up with that and it’s all they have. They think it’s normal. I did a lot of undercover work, going to places I would never frequent. A year into it, my husband noticed that I talked differently.

“It’s a low-class kind of speaking; you get so immersed in the culture that it bleeds into your personal life. That’s when I knew I was done.

“I got a better understanding of different socio-economic levels, different sorts of people — race or gender had nothing to do with it.”

McCoy, now a 40-year old mother of four, has had to navigate the role her gender plays in her career and balance a family with her husband, Patrick McCoy, who is a SWAT police officer in Citrus Heights.

“At 10 percent female, California is actually higher than other states. That has to do with the culture. I like to think we’re more progressive.”

McCoy said that she has always been treated fairly, and since officers are paid based on rank, there is no wage gap between policemen and policewomen. She noted one exception — when her husband was deciding to pursue SWAT training, she made the decision to take police work with less risk involved to raise their family.

McCoy is the mother of two boys and two girls; her oldest son attends the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

“We call them our matched sets; it’s very even in our household,” said McCoy.

“I decided that I would rather be home, so you do take that backseat. I am a mother first, a spouse second and a police sergeant third. I am very family-friendly. I like that I can bring my family here and they can be a part of the community.”

McCoy looks forward to learning how to police in a small community and is eager to start.

“It’s a different opportunity to work somewhere new and make a difference. Right now I plan to stay here until the end of my career. I would eventually like to move up the chain of command.”

McCoy will spend the next three weeks training under Schroeder.

“He’s showing me the Winters way of doing things. As an outsider coming from a large agency to smaller agency, I’m going to have to do things like learn everyone’s names. I believe in community policing.

“A big part of being a supervisor is being humble and realizing that you’re not the best. The community will see that their officers are doing a great job. My job is to make my officers look better than I could have ever looked.”

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