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Chickasaw law enforcement officer puts on-the-job experience to work as classroom instructor


Sarah Pierce

SAYRE, Okla. - When Chickasaw citizen Sarah Pierce decided to pursue law enforcement as a career, eventually becoming an educator wasn't what she expected. But she couldn't be happier with where she's landed.

Through her journey as a police officer and later a detective, Mrs. Pierce has employed her knowledge of law enforcement and applied it to her current role-criminal justice instructor for Western Technology Center at Sayre, Okla.

Mrs. Pierce, 50, is originally from Norman, Okla. She graduated from Norman North High and attended college at the University of Oklahoma where she received her bachelor's degree in law enforcement administration.

Law had always interested Mrs. Pierce. But it was her time at OU that sparked a different interest under the umbrella of law.

"I really wanted to become an attorney," she said. "I thought that that would be what I wanted to do until I took a police administration class."

After taking that class, Mrs. Pierce waded into law enforcement. She took a job as a clerk with the Cleveland County Sheriff's Office. There, she was placed anywhere she was needed. Whether it was in the wards or in the lab, helping develop pictures.

"I learned how to work with people," she said. "And I learned what the scope of law enforcement really was. Doing that while in college was really important, because it gave me on the job experience."

After graduating from OU, Mrs. Pierce worked as a drug enforcement administration task force secretary for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Taking that position ended up being a turning point in her life. She met an Edmond city police officer who shared the news that a patrolman position was open.

Mrs. Pierce applied and was hired, solidifying her choice to pursue law enforcement.

"Taking that leap and being willing to do something that wasn't that immediate next step was something that set me up for what changed my life," she said of her time with the DEA.

Eventually, Mrs. Pierce would move with her family to southern Oklahoma, taking a brief break in her law enforcement career.

During this period, she enrolled in East Central University at Ada, Okla., and worked at the Chickasaw Nation as a social worker for a short season before relocating to Blackwell, Okla.

She accepted a position with Northern Oklahoma College where she would first wade into mixing her knowledge of law enforcement with education by teaching an introduction to criminal justice class.

After working in education for several years, Mrs. Pierce moved to Elk City, Okla., and took a job as a detective for the city. Though she hadn't worked in the force for some time, her knowledge of the field was expansive after years of teaching criminal justice classes.

"Detectives will work everything from embezzlement to homicide to child abuse, investigations, robberies, etc.," she said. "It gave me an incredible amount of training and experience that would mold me into who I am today."

Mrs. Pierce found that being an instructor benefitted her in her detective career where communicating with people and learning how to work with them was of the utmost importance.

She continued to bring her past experience to the table as a detective, always remembering that being authentic and communicating would help bring the truth out.

"It's very important to keep your head on finding the truth, making sure that you always know that that's your goal, to keep the integrity of the case, and always look for the truth," Mrs. Pierce said.

Her passion for law enforcement led her down a familiar path when she discovered Western Technology Center was starting a criminal justice program during the fall of 2014. It was an opportunity she couldn't pass up.

"I loved being a detective, but I always wanted to get back to teaching because I had done it for so many years," she said.

The technology center needed an instructor who had been a police offer and had teaching experience. The job was perfect for Mrs. Pierce.

She became the criminal justice instructor for the program. Since then, she has helped the program grow to where it is today, helping students learn and getting them into the workforce.

"Career tech was very different than higher education," she said. "You're working with diverse amounts of people rather than with only adult learners. I'm working with juniors and seniors and adults. It's been another chapter where I've had to learn and be teachable."

And once again, Mrs. Pierce found similarities between education and her previous jobs. Working with her colleagues was instrumental as a detective and just as much so as a teacher.

"We are a team," she said. "We support each other. When a new teacher comes on, we help them in any way that we can. Our success of the school and your success as a teacher are interdependent. It's all about collaboration completely."

Being with the technology center for going on seven years, Mrs. Pierce doesn't see herself leaving anytime soon.

"I would like to continue to grow this program," she said. "I'm hoping to continue to serve my students at career tech for as long as I possibly can. Because age is just a number."

Overall, Mrs. Pierce looks back on her career with happiness, and celebrates the chances she took that led her to where she is now.

"I'm grateful to be able to do what I do," she said. "And I'm grateful that I've been protected in so many ways, especially being a police officer. I really value it when I sit back and reflect on my journey so far. But I'm only halfway there."

Mrs. Pierce is married to Joel Pierce. She has a daughter, Anna Frye, 20; a son, Aaron Frye, 16; a son, Michael Frye, 14; a stepson, Logan Pierce, 17; and a stepson, Scotty Pierce, 15.


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