Imagine beginning a new job—at age 54. Now, imagine that the job is being a police officer, and you’ll understand why Wendy Caldwell is attracting attention. It’s a tough, demanding way to spend your days. And no doubt it’s a career many people think is the province of the very young. Wendy is proving them wrong.
Back in her 20s, Caldwell, a Texan, decided on a career in law enforcement, graduating in 1993 in the top 10 of her police academy class. She became part of the mounted patrol team. “For me,” she told ABC News, “it was the best job on the planet. Where else can you get to be a police officer and ride a horse in the same day? It was perfect for me.”
Three years later, when she learned she was pregnant with her first child, she decided to leave her job and focus on her growing family. But fast forward 20 years, and Wendy found her marriage ending—and the need for a job was real. “I was holding a résumé that pretty much said ‘stay-at-home mom,’” said Wendy. “It wasn’t going to be easy, but I knew that I had to do it.”
Police Academy 2
She approached her local police department and learned that though she was eligible to join the force—not on horseback this time—but she had to re-do the whole strenuous six and a half months of police academy. At age 52, she got going.
I’m a little bit slower, although I’m wiser. So it’s kind of a trade-off.
Her fellow cadets may have called her “grandma” and “nana,” yet they were impressed by her drive and energy. But her path ahead wasn’t easy: Her leg was broken during a training exercise designed to have cadets feeling as if they were in the fight of their life; it was that realistic. Allowed to graduate, Wendy finished recuperating from her injury and then joined the Central Houston squad last fall.
“I realize, that at 54 years of age, I’m not as fast as I used to be, my reaction times are probably a little bit slower, although I’m wiser in the aspect of I can see it coming before it gets there, so it’s kind of a trade-off in that respect,” she said, assessing her ability to do this intense job. We love seeing women tackle a tough new challenge at midlife, and we wish this rookie all the best!