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By Gabe Wells
The Intelligencer

WHEELING, Ohio - Nicole Seifert is one of a kind in the Ohio County Sheriff's Department, but her co-workers never let her know it.
The 23-year-old Wheeling resident is the department's only female deputy and just the second woman to wear a badge in its history. Seifert served her first day in the uniform July 14 before being formally sworn in July 22 by Ohio County Circuit Judge Arthur Recht.
Seifert, a 2003 graduate of Wheeling Park High School, became interested in pursuing a career as a law officer while in college. She graduated in 2007 from West Liberty State College with a degree in criminal justice. But it was a basic law-enforcement class at West Liberty that sparked her interest.
"I really enjoyed it - the training, learning," Seifert said. "There was so much to learn. It involved a lot of things like the basic laws of the state, police techniques in searches and firearms and anything along those lines."
Seifert said she's treated no better and no worse than any of the other deputies. They all are expected to perform at the same level. She said the entire staff has been helpful, and she's learned a lot.
Ohio County Sheriff Tom Burgoyne said he didn't anticipate any problems in the hiring of a female deputy. He said Seifert came to the department highly recommended, and she is well respected by the other deputies.
"They know she is a female, but they also know she is a law enforcement officer who has earned her stripes," Burgoyne said. "That also says something about the guys we've hired. It's a credit to them. She is really respected by the guys."
Burgoyne said Seifert's previous job as a corrections officer at the Northern Correctional Facility in Moundsville was excellent preparation for her work as a deputy. The sheriff added that Seifert's education is a valuable asset.
"You don't have to have a degree to be a policeman or a policewoman," Burgoyne said.
"But it gives you insight into the psychology of the people you have to deal with - the mind of the criminal. She appreciates what the administration side has to do because she studied it. That's what education can do."
The initial nervousness in her new job has worn off, Seifert said. But Seifert noted the early days, weeks and months of a deputy's career are like nothing the television viewer will see on a police drama.
She hasn't made an arrest. She's relegated to office duty for the time being. But the young deputy has a positive outlook and attitude.
"I'm still learning the paperwork," Seifert said. "This is pretty much where you start."
When asked if she looks forward to patrolling Ohio County roads, Seifert replied, "Definitely."
Seifert recently took to the shooting range as part of her qualification to carry a firearm. She said she is confident in her shooting skills. Seifert also is confident in her ability as a deputy. She doesn't believe gender has anything to do with being a quality law enforcement officer.
"It's not anything about whether its male or female because everyone has their own specialty," Seifert said. "I think we all have our certain aspects that are better than others."
She noted she has not discovered her specialty as a deputy.
"I'm sure it will come with time," she said.
Seifert said her family and friends are very supportive of the career path she's taken. She said her parents are proud of her, and if they have any concerns about the dangers she faces on the job, they haven't mentioned them to her. Seifert said she does have concerns for her own safety, but those fears are shared by every deputy and officer.
"I think you always have a fear going into a situation, but it's part of the job," Seifert said. "You can't be afraid to go out there and do your job."
Seifert said she loves living and working in Ohio County, and she has no plans to leave the area. She's pleased to be a deputy for simple reasons - she enjoys challenging work, and she gets to help people.
Seifert hopes to move through the ranks of the Ohio County Sheriff's Department. But will she eventually become the first woman to serve as Ohio County's sheriff?
"That's something that would come way down the road," Seifert said. "I don't know about that."
Burgoyne suggested that Seifert one day becoming Ohio County's sheriff is not far-fetched.
"I mentioned that to her," Burgoyne said. "I said, 'Someday, there will be the first woman (sheriff), and right now you're in line.'"

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