"As I have moved out of these programs, I would like to encourage more people on the force and in the community to step up now and become involved," said Kline.
Certainly there has been danger in Kline's work and although she's never had to fire her weapon at anyone, she's been in close proximity to gunfire on more than one occasion. One night, a decision to make a left on a downtown street while on foot patrol rather than turning left one street farther landed Kline and her partner one block away from gunfire and murder. She wonders what may have happened had they decided to walk that extra block before turning.
Education, which the Police Department encouraged and financially supported, has been key to Kline's rise through the ranks. After receiving an associate of arts degree in law enforcement from the Hagerstown Junior College, she received a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University of Baltimore and a master's degree from Hood College in human services. Kline went to school part time while serving full time as a police officer. It took hard work and many years to receive her degrees.
"In 1998, having been promoted to lieutenant, I was nominated by Chief Jones and accepted into the elite National FBI Academy for Advanced Law Enforcement in Quantico, Virginia," Kline said. Of the 260 participants from around the world, only 12 were women. The 11-week advanced training covered a wide variety of law enforcement areas and prepared participants for administrator and command positions.
"I consider the FBI training to be a highlight of my career," Kline said
Currently, 13 of the 101 police officers in the Hagerstown Police Department are women. Three of the women are in the detective bureau.
"One of the women officers has recently been promoted from detective to sergeant, the first such promotion for a woman in 16 years since I was promoted," Kline said, "More than 16 men have been promoted in that same time period.
"It's not necessarily discrimination that so many men have been promoted as opposed to women. Part of that has to do with you as a female deciding if you want to make that next step. It is a big commitment and a difficult step for women who may want to be married and have children. It was only in the 1990s that the first woman officer had a baby. The most difficult thing for a woman is the schedule with shift work, weekends and holidays on the job - balancing work life and personal life.
"For women who are considering entering the field of law enforcement I would give the advice to intermingle getting the education and getting on-the-job training. Hagerstown Community College and the Hagerstown Business College both participate with the Hagerstown Police Department.
"Personally, I feel that a college education helps to round you out. It not only gives you basics but through interactions with people it helps you to grow and helps you to better deal with people and things. You don't necessarily have to get a degree in criminal justice, though."
When asked how she would like to be remembered, Kline thought and then answered, "I want to be remembered as a good person whose initial goal in law enforcement was to make a difference and as one who maintained that as a primary goal throughout my career.
"Having worked for the city all this time, I have loved my job and loved all that I've done. I have had many benefits from being a city employee. I have a college education because of that. But, I have also given back. It's not just to collect a paycheck. We are here to do our job, to do it the best we can, and to try to make things better. Sometimes it comes to doing more than what you think your job is."
Susie Sager Mason is a freelance writer and photographer in Hagerstown. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org