POCATELLO — Last year, Nicollette Pitcher decided to leave her established career and follow her passion.
If you’d have asked her friends and family what her calling was, they likely would have been in the dark because she didn’t talk about it until she began taking steps to become a Pocatello police officer in 2018.
“I’ve always just wanted to,” Pitcher said. “I was always kind of scared to and wondered if I could do it. And I just figured, you know I’m going to stop being scared and I’m just going to take the leap.”
Pitcher, a Pocatello resident, was one of 16 individuals in the fall 2019 graduating class for the Idaho State University Law Enforcement Academy, which held its graduation ceremony Wednesday at the ISU Student Union.
The 29-year-old graduated from ISU in 2015 with a bachelor’s in business administration and became an adjustment specialist at the Idaho Central Credit Union.
But she left the position in February when she joined the Pocatello Police Department as an officer.
“My husband had no idea that this is something I wanted to do,” Pitcher said. “A lot of people don’t expect females to be in law enforcement, so they automatically ask if I was going to be a dispatcher and I was like, ‘No, I’m going to be an officer.’”
Serving in some way was always lodged in her mind, after the Pocatello High School graduate said she regrettably didn’t join the U.S. Marines when she was 19.
Being a women didn’t give her any reservations about being a cop. She said that while men have an advantage in strength, women can bring other things to the table, including when they are talking to domestic abuse victims.
Pocatello Police Chief Roger Schei is happy to welcome her to the department.
“Any type of diversity in a program, it’s a great thing,” Schei said. “We have a very diverse department and you get different people who think differently, who can talk to people differently, handle situations differently.”
Ryen Smith is a colleague of Pitcher and also graduated from the law enforcement academy this month. The Pocatello police officer still has to complete field training, while Pitcher has already finished it.
The 28-year-old Smith was a speaker at Wednesday’s graduation ceremony after being named class president and top academic student in his class.
The seven-year Pocatello resident said the motto he will follow is doing “the right thing at the right time for the right reasons.”
“He’s got a lot of leadership qualities,” Schei said. “He leads by example. He’s very intelligent and he’s a person of character.”
Smith was previously a Bannock County Jail deputy.
“First I was looking for a secure and stable profession,” Smith said of picking his new job. “And then second, I wanted to make sure if I’m out working every day, people are safer because I am.”
Among the graduates Wednesday, four were Pocatello police officers.
“It’s a great accomplishment to successfully graduate an academy,” Schei said. “You’ve got to pass several tests, a physical and academic tests to graduate. So it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of studying, it’s a lot of time, it’s a lot of effort.”