Woman breaks ground

When Brookville police Chief Vince Markle was a patrolman in Summerville in 1994, a 10-year old girl would ride her bike to the police station twice a day – in the morning to watch him leave on his shift and in the evening when he returned.

As it turns out, Markle said, the “little girl” was Jamie Rinker, who last week was sworn in as Brookville’s first, full-time female police officer.

Her addition now gives the department seven full-time police officers. The force also has six part-time officers, including two women who, as Rinker had done, work part time.

“There were three police officers in Summerville who inspired me.” Rinker said. “They worked well with the community. I guess you could say they were my role models.”

Rinker always had been involved with helping people.

As a teenager, she was a first responder and then an EMT with the Summerville Fire Department.

In 2000, she attended the police academy and completed her paramedic training.

However, Rinker said, she had to give up police work when she became a mother. The three daughters that she and her husband have are now ages 13, 10 and 9.

So, Rinker went into the health care field, working at Penn Highlands Brookville in the lab and emergency room.

She then started as a part-time police officer in the borough, and applied for the full-time position when it became available.

According to Markle, she scored “very highly on all aspects” of her civil service exam, which includes written and physical tests.

When Rinker, who also is a member of the Sigel Volunteer Fire

Co., informed her family of her plans to be a full-time police officer, she said her daughters asked, “Mom, why are you doing that?”

“I missed being out in the field. As a medic I was constantly helping people,” she said. “I like it when people come up to me and ask questions. It is a matter of helping people and I want to be sure my kids are safe.”

Rinker, who enjoys baking and has been known to bring cupcakes in to work for the other officers, often is on patrol in Brookville High School.

Under an arrangement with the borough and the Brookville Area School District, police officers are inside the schools as resource officers.

“I like working with the kids. They will come up and ask questions,” Rinker said.

“Sometimes if they are having a bad day, they will come up to me and tell me about it. I do see my girls at school and they will give me a hug.”

Rinker has become an unintentional role model for the high school girls.

“A lot of them will come up to me and tell me how nice it is to see a female officer in the school,” she said. “Sometimes they can talk to me better than they can a male officer.

“I never thought I would be the one to make history, but it is pretty neat. After I learned I was hired, I texted my dad and he was very happy.”

Times have come a long way since 1994, which is when Rinker began police work. Back then, she said, it was a rarity to have a woman on any police force.

According to Markle, the department has been getting more female applicants than male over the course of the last two to three years.

“The borough added another officer to the force earlier this year, and we were able to hire Officer Rinker,” he said.

Over the past several years, according to Markle, crimes against children “have been going through the roof.”

“That includes child abuse in one fashion or another. Currently, we have one officer doing it all. A female who has been sexually assaulted often responds better to a female officer than a male officer.”

Markle said the department plans to send Rinker to a weeklong training session in few months, and she also will receive training through the District Attorney’s Office.

“We are very happy to have her on our force,” Markle said. “The caliber of person she is, we didn’t want to lose her, and if we could not hire her full time we would have lost her to another department.”