ZAVALLA, TX (KTRE) - Stefani Wade official took over a role that has been her goal since she left the Angelina College Police Academy in 2003.
"I went on a ride-along with an officer friend of mine," Wade said. "I saw the impact law enforcement has on family and society was a lot different viewpoint than what I had prior to that, and I instantly joined the Angelina Police Academy. Since then, I have wanted to work up into a leadership role as a chief, sheriff, or constable."
Wade previously served as an officer for the city. She takes over for Steve Drumm, who resigned the position to take a teaching job with Jasper ISD as a criminal justice teacher.
"I met Stefani in a class I was teaching," Drumm said. "I knew based on her background, and interaction in class that she is someone who had her head on her shoulders and is a good cop."
Wade was thrilled to learn under Drumm but nervous about the quick transition.
"I thought for the next couple of years, I would be able to train for that spot, but then when he said he would be leaving after he had been here two years, my heart dropped," Wade said. "I was nervous and excited. I have seen Steve as a mentor and learned so much. I have even asked him to stay on as a reserve officer to help when he can."
It's been a year of first for the city.. In May, Carlos Guzman became the first Cuban mayor for Zavalla, and adding a female police chief shows improvement in the community.
"Diversification is what you are trying to get," Guzman said. "You're trying to get different people. You are trying to get different cultures. You're trying to get different trades."
Wade has hit the ground running. Her main goal is to change perception of police in the community and to inspire the next generation of leaders.
"I did not think about being the first female chief," Wade said. "I just wanted to be a chief. I know every decision I make is just that much more important. I believe I can do it. My dad raised me with girls can do anything boys can do."
Wade is a big proponent of reaching out in the community. In Onalaska, she started a junior police program as an outreach to children in the community. She is hoping to do that with the next generation in Zavalla, a generation that could one day make what Wade has done the norm not the exception.