NEW BEDFORD – Sasha Vicente’s bloodlines sport a proud shade of blue.
Currently one of only two female sergeants in the New Bedford Police Department, she is the daughter of retired Captain Steven Vicente, who has served and protected the community for 34 years.
Growing up in a law enforcement family and seeing her father in uniform before he dropped her off at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, she knew early on that she wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement, she declared.
“I’ve wanted to be a police officer since I was a kid,” said Vicente, 32, who was promoted to sergeant last month in a ceremony held at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
She said she still has fond memories of playing with a small patrol motorbike which she received as a gift at a very young age.
“I still have pictures of this,” she said with a smile, noting that she grew up watching the “Cops” and “America’s Most Wanted” TV shows.
âI have always been interested in criminal justice,â she said. âIn high school, an officer came to talk to us about the cadet program. It was then that I decided to take the police cadet test. And that’s how it all started.
Vicente is one of less than 20 sworn female officers currently serving with the New Bedford Police Department. Male officers currently outnumber female officers by about 13 to 1.
“There is more [female officers] now since I arrived, but it’s still not really enough, âshe said.
Her father said the department tries to recruit female officers, but a career in law enforcement doesn’t appeal to many women.
âIt takes such a big part of your life,â he said. âIf you have a family and children, you need a base of support, otherwise you will never survive. Police academy is very demanding and it is a very demanding job. It’s not like you’re working 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and your job is done. You can work from midnight to 8 p.m., 4 to 12 p.m., then there are court appearances and retail work. It can be very stressful for the family.
Sgt. Vicente, who grew up in New Bedford, became a cadet with the New Bedford Police Department in 2008, after graduating from high school. She then became a dispatcher.
In 2012, she joined the police academy. She graduated from the Plymouth Police Academy in February 2013.
She spent the first three years in the Patrol Unit, working at South End Station. Subsequently, she worked for approximately four years in the narcotics division, including assignments with the district attorney’s office and the Drug Enforcement Agency. She then returned to patrol out of North End Station until her promotion to the rank of sergeant.
“I’ve been in a lot of things, but what I’m most proud of is being able to work as a team and being able to remove drugs and guns from the streets,” she said. . âWhat I like most is being able to help peopleâ¦ you work a lot, but you are rewarded.
But sometimes female officers face obstacles that male officers often do not face.
âA lot of people don’t like to take authority from a womanâ¦ especially when you’re dealing with people on the street,â she said, noting that many people still classify the policing profession as a man work.
She said the best way to deal with these situations is to be “truthful, honest and tell it like it is.”
But whatever the gender, it is more difficult today to be a police officer, especially after the death of George Floyd, she added.
âThey kind of see you as a bad guy, and they don’t know if they can trust you,â she said. “They see you as a bad apple, even though there are some good copsâ¦ It’s probably the hardest thing right now. They disrespect you because of what’s going on in the country.
His father said he couldn’t be prouder of his accomplishments.
âShe’s always been enthusiastic and a goalscorer. I am very happy and very proud of her, âhe said.
The two often have meaningful conversations about law enforcement.
âWe talk a lot about the job, where it was years ago, where it is today and where it is headed in the future,â he said. âI tell him to keep studying and improving. I tell him not to settle down, to continue to achieve his goals and to keep moving forward in the departmentâ¦ event. There are opportunities, and you seize them.
This is advice she fully intends to follow, she said.
“I will definitely take the next lieutenant exam,” she said with conviction.
So far, there has been only one female lieutenant in the department, she said.
âThere was a Cape Verdean, but she retired,â said Vicente, whose maternal grandparents were born in Graciosa and Pico, and paternal grandparents are from S. Miguel.
Daughter of the Executive Director of Discovery Language Academy, she grew up in a house where the Portuguese language and traditions have always been precious.
With a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Fisher College, she said she plans to pursue a master’s degree in this area.
And becoming a police captain can also be in the cards.
âI will continue, if I can,â she said.