Mallory Ladd always knew she wanted to go into law enforcement.
And her dream came true.
The 25-year-old just finished up herfirst week as a new deputy with the Warrick County Sheriff's Office.
The Evansville native and University of Evansville graduate now joins Ashton Schenk as the second woman deputy in a department with 40 male deputies -- which doesn't even include all of the men reserve officers.
Ladd said she has always felt the pressures of wanting to be in a profession that is male dominated.
"That was always my motivation, 'don't take it easy on me because the real world is not,' " she said. "I think it helps that I played sports because we always played guys in basketball and volleyball. So, I was use to the competition and having to step my game up."
Ladd said she thinks women officers are a blessing in disguise.
"Because women sometimes attract women in terms of calls," she said. "And may feel more comfortable talking to us than male officers."
Ladd said the WCSO has been very accepting of her and Schenk.
"They want us to be the best we can be," she said. "And they're trying to get more women deputies. None of them have been like, 'you're a woman, this is a man's world, you're not going to make it.' They have done nothing but help me and give me tips and help go home safe at night."
But Ladd said she still feels like she has to prove herself.
"Because I'm tough," she said.
Ladd, who, officially graduated from the Southwestern Indiana Law Enforcement Academy on June 1, said she cried during the ceremony.
"It was just such surreal moment," she said. "Actually, I cried the day I passed my physical fitness test because that was the day I was like, 'oh wow, it's real now.' "
Ladd said in addition to passing a 250-question written test, she had to endure a rigorous physical test.
"We had to do 25 pushes, 29 sit-ups in a minute," she said, "a vertical jump -- you have to get over 16 feet I believe -- and then a 300 meter sprint and a mile and a half run."
Ladd said the most difficult thing she had to overcome during her 17 weeks of training at the academy was getting pepper sprayed and tazed.
"It was probably the worst thing I've ever experienced -- I still have PTSD from it," she said. "It's basically like throwing sand in your eyes and putting your face in a hot grill at the same time and it lasts about two hours. So it's definitely an effective tool to use."
But Ladd said she overcame the pain because she knew it was a hurdle she had to jump in order to achieve her ultimate goal.
"We do it so we know what perps go through and to be certified," she said. "So you have to be able to go through the pain. But after I was done, I was really proud of myself. There was no moment that I wanted to quit."
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Ladd said she was inspired to be an officer because both her grandpa and her uncle were in law enforcement.
"My mom was the baby of 16 kids, so my grandpa always had police stories," she said. "So just growing up in the atmosphere with officers and hearing the stories - I just knew what I wanted to do."
Ladd, who played basketball at UE, said she almost had the opportunity to play overseas after graduation, before she ended up taking a job as a dispatcher with the WCSO.
"My dad ended up having a stroke my senior year, which led me not to go overseas to play," she said. "So I think it was God saying, 'start your next path in life.'"
Ladd said working as a dispatcher for a year was one of the greatest experiences she's ever had.
"You're the first response with a subject that is in dire need -- so their worst day," she said. "So something we may think is simple and not horrible, it is for them at the time. Some days you have good days and sometimes you have bad ones."
Ladd said she had her share of calls that stuck with her.
"One night we had a baby be born in an alleyway," she said. "So my partner I worked with, we were talking her through having the baby."
Ladd said her original goal was to work as a city cop with the Evansville Police Department because of her family's history working there and her internship with them her junior year at UE. But ultimately, she couldn't be happier with her new role as a deputy in Warrick County.
"I was from Evansville and I didn't realize how great Warrick County was," she said. "There are places in this county I didn't even know are as beautiful as they are."
Ladd, who started her first day of patrol with Sgt. Tony Todisco on June 4, said the first four days of her rotation were busy.
"We went from call to call," she said. "And I've learned so much from him so far, just kind of the ins and outs and tips you want to know."
Ladd said her first week as a deputy has been all about gaining confidence and figuring out what kind of officer she wants to be.
"I'll go wherever they need me. Like a utility person," she said. "So whatever needs to be done, I'm gonna try to figure out the best way to do that."
Ladd said watching viral videos of the bad things cops do and knowing that pedestrians or bystanders may film her while she's on duty doesn't deter her from being the best deputy possible.
"You know there's always one bad apple that ruins it for the rest of them," she said. "It's unfortunate that they only see the bad things that officers do because we do a lot of great things and simple things for people."
Ladd said she will treat those types of people with respect.
"They may have had a bad encounter," she said. "Which could make the encounter you're having with them a bad situation."
Although she's hasn't been on the job long, Ladd said she knows she's in supportive community.
"Most of them respect you," she said. "But hopefully we can get law enforcement back on the track of being a prestigious career that people respect."
As for the future, Ladd said she plans to move to Warrick County herself.
"It's just a great area and one day having a family, raising them here would be awesome," she said. "They have a great school system -- we work with the teachers a lot of times -- and it's just growing and it's only going to get better I believe."