WACO, Texas — All it took was one family member to get State Trooper Monica Montoya interested in law enforcement.
“[I’d] go spend the night at my uncle's house, and I could hear the garage door opening at two or three in the morning,” she said, remembering the time spent at her relative's house.
“[It was] either him leaving or coming home.”
Her uncle was a police officer in San Antonio.
Detective Amanda Paris remembers the industry catching her interest at a young age as well.
For the young girl from a military background, family was her inspiration, but in a different way.
“She would always be like, well, who's going to solve it within the 10 minutes?”
She remembered watching crime series and documentaries with her mother.
“I would give a guess… it wouldn't always be right.”
That girl turned into a college student pretty quickly.
Attending Sam Houston State, but living in College Station, she decided to join the blue after seeing a dispatcher position open up with CSPD.
“I knew that I wanted to be in the law enforcement world, I just didn't know quite where I was going to fit into it,” she said.
She was on the job around two weeks before she realized something:
“I fell head in love,” she said, smiling.
“Head over heels for it.”
However, one scenario changed her life.
On August 13, 2012, a gunman opened fire on Constable Brian Bachmann, killing him and another, and injuring four others.
“It struck a chord in me that as a dispatcher, you can only do so much to ensure that those officers go home safe at the end of the day, to their families and loved ones,” she said.
She began thinking back to that day at work. “I believed that I could do so much more, if I'm right next to them on the street.”
She did just that.
Joining the academy, she and many others, like Trooper Montoya, realized just how many men crowd the force.
“It was definitely an eye-opener,” Montoya said.
“For me, I didn't realize that it was such a male-dominated career field, I was very oblivious to all of that. “
Trooper Montoya is part of just seven percent of all sworn-in state troopers who are female across the country.
“When there's such few females, you just kind of have to stick together and kind of figure things out the way they should be done,” she said.
It’s a stagnant statistic too.
Back in 2000, that percentage was at six percent.
It’s not only state troopers feeling the lack of representation; less than 13 percent of all full-time police officers are female.
“Be confident, and know that you can do it, no matter what anybody else says,” Detective Paris said.
“You may do it differently, but you can do the same job,
"And you never know, by just doing your job, you may be inspiring others who want to be in your shoes and break the same barriers you did,
“I've actually had little girls come up to me before and tell me I want to become a police officer and it just makes my heart happy,” Trooper Montoya said, with a smile stretched across her face.
“I just, you know, if it's something that you want to do, then I encourage people to do it.”