Vandergrift Police Department welcomes its first full-time female officer

The Vandergrift Police Department made history.

Ada Vega, 22, is the borough’s first full-time female police officer.

Her hire was approved by the Vandergrift board in April and, ahead of her full-time status, Vega was hired at age 18 as a part-time agent in 2018, making her the youngest ever hired by the company. ‘borough.

“If you have no law, you have anarchy. I just want to make sure that justice is done and people can’t get away with doing what they want,” Vega said of her decision to pursue a career in law enforcement.

Joyce Hanz | Tribune-Review

Vega, from New Kensington, grew up in Butler and graduated from Butler Senior High School in 2018.

While there, she reflected on her plans after graduation and considered enlisting in the military.

“I chose to be a police officer because I want to help people,” Vega said.

She graduated from the IUP Police Academy in 2018, but said she faced barriers to employment as she was still a teenager.

“I was very young, 18, and applying for police jobs. Most departments want a 21-year-old officer. Vandergrift’s council and chief gave me a chance and were willing to give me a chance,” Vega said.

Vandergrift Police Chief Joe Caporali observed Vega on the beat and praised his professional demeanor during police calls.

“It is obvious that it has a calming effect and a positive influence on those involved. I think Constable Vega is an asset to this department and I have received many positive comments from citizens regarding her hiring,” Caporali said.

Vandergrift adviser Daisha Clayton said she considers Vega a welcome addition to the force.

“She has proven herself to be a valuable asset while working as a part-time agent. It’s an added bonus, she’s a woman, in my opinion. Representation matters. Seeing Officer Vega work within our community can inspire other young girls and women to follow in her footsteps,” said Clayton.

Vega completed 26 weeks of police training.

She said the academy’s schedule and physical demands were “as expected” and she credits boxing and hiking for keeping her in top physical shape.

Vandergrift resident Lisa Dormire met Officer Vega on Grant Avenue at a festival.

“I believe young women should be encouraged to do what they dream of being able to do. I think it’s wonderful to have a new role model for the Vandergrift girls,” Dormire said.

For Vega, being the borough’s first full-time female police officer gives her the opportunity to mentor other women.

“Resident feedback has been good and they told me they were happy to see a woman,” Vega said. “I try to use a lot of empathy with people and it’s rewarding, especially when young girls are happy to see a girl cop. It gives them a bit of inspiration to maybe choose law enforcement. I want to be a positive role model for young girls.

Currently, Vandergrift’s force includes eight full-time and four part-time officers, Caporali said.

“I hope to earn the public’s respect and feel safe when I’m working,” Vega said.

Joyce Hanz is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Joyce at 724-226-7725, or via Twitter .