CLINTON (WSPA) – It was a long and winding road that took Lieutenant Catherine Anderson to where she is now, an officer with the Clinton Police Department.

In the early 1980s, she said she wanted to be a game warden.

“I applied to them and they said, ‘no we don’t allow women,'” Anderson said.

Her mother suggested she become a firefighter. “I tried that, and they said ‘no, we don’t hire women,'” was the answer she received.

Anderson said she became an athletic director in Irmo, South Carolina. One day during an event she became involved in a situation.

What happened next was being watched by South Carolina Highway Patrol Lt. Israel Brooks, according to Anderson. “An incident happened at Southern Oaks Park where I held my ground.”

“And then next day, he came in with an application and said, ‘we’re hiring women, fill it out.'”

Trooper Anderson with the South Carolina Highway Patrol

She wasn’t just any recruit. Anderson attended the academy in a group of four women. She eventually became one of the first female graduates of the South Carolina Highway Patrol right along with men.

“Shooting, driving, defensive tactics. There was absolutely no difference. What they did, we did. I even had to box.”

Anderson would stay with SCHP until around 1990 when she left to eventually raise four sons.

They are all adults now and she accepted the offer to join the Clinton Police Department. She served as a school resource officer for six years at Clinton High School before becoming a patrol officer.

“I work third (shift) where I can get out and actually walk the sidewalks and yell and scream and wave. Have a good ole time with them,” the lieutenant tells 7NEWS. “I walk the square, check it out. Go into restaurants, how you doing? it’s a wonderful little town, it’s warm as the dickens. Everybody knows everybody. You can’t do anything without anyone finding out anyway. I love it here.”

The Clinton Police Department appears to feel the same way.

Lt. Anderson has twice been named as the city’s Police Officer Of The Year. The honor is awarded by a vote of her peers.

“So many good officers here,” Anderson said. “I thank them so much for this. It means a whole lot to me.”

“Where else do you get to ride around, turn on blue lights and sirens and wave at people? And it’s just so much fun.”

Anderson said, “I’m one of the few people I know that get to get up in the morning or in the afternoon and say I get to go to work.”