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Twenty years ago, the Maryland Independent featured two student officers going to the Southern Maryland Criminal Justice Academy in Glasva, preparing to be Charles County sheriff’s officers.

One of the graduates, and one of only two women in the 18-student officer class from Charles County, Sharon Walsh, is now finishing up her career with the sheriff’s office, and the experience was “everything I expected and absolutely more,” she said.

She said she started out as a patrol officer where she patrolled the streets from 1994 to 1998, then moved to traffic operations. There, Walsh said she did accident reconstruction, something she didn’t know she would be able to do.

She added that to a list of things she trained for and accomplished while with the agency.

Promoted to sergeant in 2005, Walsh became supervisor of the patrol unit and in 2010, supervisor of the warrant and fugitive unit.

Capt. Michael Klotz of the special services division of the sheriff’s office worked with Walsh for a short time during her time as supervisor of the warrant and fugitive unit.

Klotz said Walsh was very thorough with her job and “liked to do things the right way.”

As for the type of person she was to work with, Klotz said she “always had a very pleasant demeanor and was very energetic.”

It’s not the titles she held or the ranks she earned that Walsh will remember the most. It’s the people she connected with along the way.

“When you start, everyone says, ‘I like to help people.’ Well, that’s exactly what you do,” she said.

She recalled one night when she was on patrol and was alerted to a call for a teenager smashing mailboxes and driveway lights.

Walsh responded and remembered talking to the teen about his actions and how important it was for him not to start down the wrong path.

She said years later she was stopped in a parking lot and a young man approached her to say thank you. She said he identified himself and was the same man she talked to years before. He stopped her to thank her for the talk they had that night. She said she learned he had chosen the right path and remembered their talk all those years ago. She said making a difference in a person’s life is what she will remember.

While with the sheriff’s office, Walsh also taught courses and acted as the liaison for a while for Charles County Public Schools and as the traffic operations liaison for Charles County government, among other responsibilities.

She said she enjoyed the work she did for the community while in those roles.

Just as she said in her first interview in 1994, Walsh said it was not always known to her that she would be a police officer, but the police life was something she was always around.

Her father and uncle were officers with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C.

At 20, Walsh joined the military but ended up with an interest in law enforcement.

“You gravitate toward what you know,” she said. After four years of military service, Walsh inquired about becoming a sheriff’s officer in Charles County, then set out to apply.

Walsh said she was raised in the county and graduated from La Plata High School.

In retirement, she plans to move out of the state and spend plenty of time with family and friends. Her advice to those looking to start their career in law enforcement or other fields is to always stick to the path one chooses, and “don’t stop going for whatever goal it is you set for yourself.”

gphillips@somdnews.com