First Female Detective to Strengthen Barren County Sheriff Department

The newly elected Barren County Sheriff hires the first female detective in the history of the department.

Ann Phelps' first day as a detective was Jan. 29, 2007, and she started working cases her second day on the job.

Chris Eaton recently took office as the Barren County sheriff Jan. 1, 2007, and said one of the first things he wanted to do was hire a female detective to specialize in rape, sexual assault and crimes against children and the elderly.

WBKO's Sarah Goebel has more on why having a female detective could strengthen the Barren County Sheriff's Department.

"Each deputy has something different to offer. Everyone has other strong points. I feel I can talk to children very well. I have a child of my own. If I were in that position I would feel better talking to another female," Phelps said.

This is Ann Phelps first time in a detective's position but she has worked abuse cases and crimes involving children as a patrol officer in Russellville, Ky. Phelps said it can be especially hard to talk to children who've been victims of serious crimes.

"They're stand-offish at first. You have to build the trust and knowing how to earn their trust is kind of difficult at times," Phelps said.

Phelps also said you have talk to kids at their level and understand how they think, and Sheriff Chris Eaton said a female detective is the best candidate for the job.

"The trust, especially with a child and with their mother, I mean the can cope more. They can talk more to a female. It's kind of like talking to their mom about some things; she can understand and relate to the children too," Eaton said.

Eaton also said as a male it's extremely hard to talk to female victims.

"Being a father of three children, especially two daughters, it's the hardest thing in the world to do. In the 13 years I've been in law enforcement I've worked sexual abuse cases and it's the hardest thing to do to talk to a female about abuse. I think their more comfortable talking to a female."

Phelps said her male co-workers have been very supportive of her. She may be the first female detective at the sheriff's department, but said her goals are the same as other deputies.

"I want to bring something different to the sheriff's department, just like every other deputy that works here, and I want to put the bad guys in jail and keep the trust with children and victims," Phelps said.

The sheriff's department only had one detective in the past, so Eaton said Phelps will also handle other types of cases to lighten the workload of the other detective.

Ann Phelps is a native of Barren County and has a bachelors and masters degree from Western Kentucky University. She worked for the Russellville Police Department from 1998 to 2004.