CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – 2020 is Jacqui Woodall’s eighth year with the Charleston County Sheriff’s office, and 11th year in law enforcement. She started in community affairs, and has worked as a school resource officer but is now a sergeant for the agency.
“It’s not for the pay. It’s not for glory or anything like that, it’s because you have a genuine feeling to make a difference in people’s lives,” said Woodall.
Every day, she puts on the uniform and heads out the door, leaving three boys at home. Woodall said some days are harder than others.
“You kiss everybody goodbye. Your husband, your kids, and tell them you’ll see them later and then… trust that you will,” Woodall said.
Her husband is also in law enforccement.
“I trust him in his training. But then, you know, you still have that human aspect in the back of your mind like that’s my husband,” Woodall said. “What if something happens? What if he’s hurt?”
That danger, now more real than ever.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division reports murder on Law Enforcement Officers in 2019 was up nearly 7%, aggravated assaults up 4%, and assaults on officers up 20%.
“This is a brother and a sisterhood, so when somebody does die or is assaulted or something, you see that,” Woodall said. “It touches you because that’s part of your family, too.”
Regardless of the statistics, Woodall said she still has a job to do.
“We’re doing this job because we care about people and we’re going to protect the citizens no matter what,” Woodall said. “No matter if they like us or if they don’t like us. It’s our duty and our job to go out there and protect them.”
She just hopes that at the end of the day, people realize Law Enforcement Officers are people, too, and that they’re just like us.
“The uniform and the badge doesn’t de-humanize us,” said Woodall.
Woodall said she’s heard the criticism of law enforcement this year after high-profile incidents in Minnesota and Kentucky. She hopes, going forward, there will be a change in the narrative of the way people view the industry.
“I think if each person can take the time just to have a conversation whether you know a police officer or you just run into one on the street, and you open the narrative and open a conversation with them, show that we are again human too,” said Woodall.
She hopes it stays that way, in case her three-year-old son one day decides he, too, wants to get into law enforcement. But she said that no matter what, her job is to protect the community and she’ll do just that.