It's an honorable profession'
PROFESSIONAL WOMAN Capt. Betty Evans is the only woman to hold the position of Chief of Detectives at the Meridian Police Department. Evans oversees 22 detectives and six civilians. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Penny Randall / staff writer
March 31, 2002
Betty Evans still can't believe her 25-year career as a police officer was launched on a bet.
It was December 1977, Evans was 20 years old and didn't have a career goal in mind.
At the time, Evans' sister's boyfriend was taking the test to become a police officer, and he made a bet that neither she nor her sister, Barbara, could pass the test.
The first half of the examination involved a physical agility test pulling a human size dummy for so many feet, running up stairs and jumping through a window, over a chain link and wooden fence all in a certain amount of time.
All three would pass the physical test and sit for the written exam.
She was then eligible to attend the police academy and go through the training to become an officer.
Her first thought when she received the results was "I don't want this. I was just doing it because of the bet."
Evans had another reservation for becoming a police officer, too.
Her career begins, almost ends
Evans would graduate from the academy in February 1978 alongside five other women and return to the Meridian Police Department as one of its first female officers.
A few months later, her career almost came to a tragic end.
It was a rainy night and Evans was working the third shift 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. She and her patrol partner were answering a disturbance call and were involved in a serious accident with another patrol car.
Evans was out for a year recovering from a broken shoulder, a concussion and cracked neck.
Her first thought was:
Her co-workers would take turns coming and sitting on the porch with Evans, keeping her company as her broken bones healed.
The night of the accident may have brought Evans physical pain, but it also changed her life for the better.
Evans remembers that night well, because that friend would later become her husband.
Almost three years later, Evans would become a police officer 2 and seven years after that she would advance to the rank of detective.
In 1992, she was promoted to lieutenant and went back into uniform patrolling the night shift. She stayed on that shift for a year and then went to work in the criminal investigation division as a lieutenant.
Her career would take a dramatic turn in 1994, when then-Chief of Police Gregg Lewis promoted her to captain, serving as chief of detectives in the Criminal Investigation Division. Evans was the first female to be appointed to the position and today oversees 22 detectives.
Her duties are mostly administrative, involving budgets, reviewing cases and overseeing investigations.
Woman in a man's world
In the beginning, Evans said she felt the stigma of being a women in a man's world.
Being one of only 10 women out of 85 officers at the station doesn't phase her and she even has advice for other women who want to become officers.
It's really an honorable profession."
Wife and mother
Married for 19 years to James Evans Sr., the couple has five children. They are: Cotishea Anderson, a computer engineer in Dallas; the Rev. Roosevelt Anderson of Meridian, who works for BellSouth; Erica Evans, a senior at Meridian High School; James Evans Jr., a sophomore at Meridian High School; and Torrie Grubbs a resident of Chicago. They also have three grandchildren.
Evans' children have only one thing to say about their mother being a cop.
Evans is active in Mt. Bethel Baptist Church, where she sings in the choir, serves as a deaconess and teaches the Junior Sunday School class. She and her husband are also youth counselors.
Evans has served 25 years with the Meridian Police Department, making her eligible for retirement in November.
She doesn't necessarily think of herself as a professional woman, just a person doing a job she really loves. Her advice for women in general "Don't be intimidated by anything."