JEFFERSON — “God did it,” Mary Ayala, Jefferson’s newly-sworn in peace officer said Thursday as she witnessed her childhood dream manifest to reality.
Ayala, who became a cadet after moving from the big city to Jefferson a year ago, was officially sworn in as a police officer this past Thursday upon her completion from the Police Academy.
Not only did she become the city’s first female Hispanic officer, but she also made history as the first civilian that the city sent to the academy — and she’s the first to be sponsored by Jefferson’s newly-formed Adopt-A-Cop program.
“The bigger cities, they furnish everything, but the smaller towns, the PDs often have to furnish their own gear,” the Adopt-A-Cop Organizer Wesley “Shaggy” Jones explained previously.
Jones said citizens didn’t realize the plight of small-town police department budgets until Ayala started her journey as a cadet.
“Nobody would’ve ever known that until Jefferson finally started a program where they hired an officer who wasn’t a peace officer,” he said.
“Through the Adopt-a-Cop program, when she is a full-fledge officer, when she gears up in uniform, she will literally be wearing Jefferson with her all the time,” Jones pointed out.
“We’ve raised enough money to completely outfit her,” he shared. “So it won’t be anything out of her pocket.”
Following the oath of office and pinning of her badge by Jefferson Police Chief Florentino Perez last Thursday, Jones officially presented the new police officer with the rest of her gear.
Chief Perez thanked all for coming out to the celebration, which boasted a roomful of city and county officials as well as local citizens.
“I appreciate everyone for coming out,” Chief Perez said. “We do have a lot of gratitude for the community’s support and we do appreciate you all greatly.”
Officer Ayala also expressed her gratitude.
“Many of you know I came to Jefferson not knowing why,” Ayala told the crowd. “It was such a pull to be here; and being a woman of faith, I had to just (step) out on what the spirit was leading me to do.
“And it was for this; it was for this moment; it was to be able to serve the people of Jefferson,” said Ayala.
The new police officer said she loves the community of Jefferson and considers it an honor and privilege to be able to serve.
“It’s overwhelming the amount of love that’s in this community,” Officer Ayala said.
“I’m just very, very blessed and grateful to be part of it — not only be part of it, but to protect and serve this community,” she said as she blew kisses, expressing her appreciation.
Peggy Walker, secretary of the Adopt-A-Cop program, shared how happy she was to see Ayala’s dream come in full circle.
“I cried like a baby,” she shared. “We’re proud of her and Jefferson PD.”
“She is one of the reasons that we started Jefferson Adopt-A-Cop,” added Walker. “Our whole community is invested in her and loves her.”
Walker also saluted Police Chief Perez, who she said is always finding new opportunities for the town and opening new doors.