MESA COUNTY, Colo. Rebecca Spiess has known since eighth grade she wanted to dedicate her life to law enforcement, but she never expected to become Mesa County's first female sheriff.
"Frankly, back then, that was very unusual for women," Spiess said. "I don't think there were any women in law enforcement."
Spiess has been the Mesa County undersheriff for more than eight years. She was sworn in as sheriff in front of an excited crowd Friday at the Mesa County Sheriff's Office.
"I think it's cool that I get to be the first woman from Mesa County SO," she said. "Other people think it's really cool. I'm getting a lot of feedback that way. It's a huge honor. Something that's completely unexpected."
Spiess said the male-dominated law enforcement industry and her male supervisors like Hilkey have always been supportive of her career despite her gender.
"I never got the feeling that I was being impeded, stepped on. If anything, it was just the opposite," she said. "I feel that the men that I worked for always gave me the opportunity to excel and I don't think I let them down."
Fruita Police Department also has its first female police chief, Judy Macy, as of last Sunday.
"Obviously there are more men in the profession, but I feel that it's been very accepting and welcoming of women," Macy said. "We add a different tone to law enforcement, but I've never had problems with stereotypes."
Stan Hilkey is leaving before his term is up to start a new job as executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety.
A new sheriff will still be elected this November to take over the position in January 2015.