GREENWOOD, S.C. (WSPA) – Officer Ana Salazar has been with the Greenwood Police Department for two years.

Everyone has a different path to becoming a first responder. Salazar’s started when she was seven years old.

“I did get lost one time so, the closest thing, you see a policeman because you know they’re going to help you,” Officer Salazar said as she recalls the story.

“I grabbed the first one I could see at Walmart, and they helped me out. They helped me find my mom. I knew that I was safe with them, and I want to help people feel that way.”

Salazar completed eight weeks of training at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy in Columbia.

She joined the Greenwood Police Department and it didn’t take long before she saw some action.

It was a shoplifting call at a Dollar General on her third day on solo patrol.

“So, I’m right there, pulled up and I see him. I say, ‘police, stop!’ He takes off running and I’m OK, we’re doing this. I’m excited, it’s my first foot chase,” she tells 7NEWS.

“I didn’t win that one,” the officer said with a laugh.

Salazar is 5 foot and 1 inch tall, but don’t let her size fool you. “All the calls I go to, everyone is going to be taller, everyone is going to be taller than me,” she tells us.

“But I use my training, de-escalation and use my words to my advantage.”