Idaho Falls Police Department promotes first female to sergeant

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IDAHO FALLS — The Idaho Falls Police Department is promoting a woman to the rank of sergeant for the first time.

Detective Jessica Marley will attain the new rank on Christmas Eve and officially be transferred from the detectives unit to patrol.

“There isn’t anything special about me. I haven’t been given any different breaks because of my gender. All of the other applicants were excellent applicants,” Marley said. “I’m proud of my accomplishment, but I don’t want to take away from others’ accomplishments either. I do my job to the best of my ability, as does everybody else here.”

Marley has worked in the department for 16 years. She was a member of the SWAT team, worked in warrants as a detective and was recognized as an Officer of the Year with the Crisis Intervention team. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in social work from Idaho State University and a Master of Social Work degree from Northwest Nazarene University, according to city news release.

Marley said this wasn’t her first time applying for the position.

“I think probably (one of the factors this time was) the ability to articulate myself well,” Marley said. “I was able to rely on my education and experience a lot.”

Marley said that experience included her time working in various divisions within the department.

All those applying to be a sergeant had to complete a written test, present an executive summary and provided solutions to personnel and tactical issues. They also had several interview processes. Marley also presented a “geographic policing” plan or a community-centric way to enhance safety.

“Detective Marley did really, really good in all the testing. She is just really good at what she does,” Idaho Falls Police Chief Bryce Johnson said. “(Detective) Marley’s ideas were really good. We’ll be looking at trying to implement those along with a lot of the other ideas officers have.”

Johnson commended Marley for being a great investigator and a great leader. When asked why it was the first time a female has been promoted to this role he replied, “It’s about time, right? 2017,” Johnson said.

Johnson and Marley said they aren’t many female applicants. Johnson said the national average of female officers in a department is 11 percent. IFPD is sitting at a little over 4 percent.

“I would love to see more applicants so that we have a bigger testing pool for females,” Marley said.

Marley said she was inspired to join the police force to serve the community in a different way.

“Ultimately it’s worth it,” she said. “What we do is part of something bigger than ourselves. We’re a part of a community within a law enforcement world. We’re part of a community that respects, luckily … Idaho Falls respects and appreciates us, and I appreciate them. You have to put any fears that you have aside for something that’s greater.”

The department also wants to recognize other officers being promoted, including Sgt. Scott Killian being promoted to lieutenant. He will be transferred from the detectives unit to patrol. Officer Jed Lewis will be promoted to sergeant and will remain in patrol, and Detective Tim Downs will be promoted to sergeant and will be transferred from detective to patrol.