Blair finds purpose as officer

Published 8:25 pm Saturday, January 8, 2011

From bus driver to police officer, Cheryl Blair’s life has been a search for purpose.


The newly-minted Suffolk police officer was sworn in last month, 10 years after she went back to school for her general education diploma after dropping out at age 16.

“I got married at 16, and I dropped out of school thinking that I was grown and I didn’t need an education,” she said.

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Blair got a job driving a school bus, but soon grew to realize that wasn’t her purpose.

“While I was driving a school bus, I was trying to think of jobs that I could do,” she said.

A friend from North Carolina who was a police dispatcher talked her into applying for a similar position in Suffolk. After taking classes at Paul D. Camp Community College in data entry, she finally took the step of applying. She got hired in March 2003.

“The Suffolk Police Department, to me, is my family,” she said. “A lot of them have shown so much support and encouragement. I couldn’t imagine going to another department.”

But even in such a vitally important position in her “family,” she still felt restless.

“I was always wondering what was going on, on the other end of the radio,” she said. “My character was more suitable to be a police officer. For years, I just kind of battled with it.”

Finally, on the advice of several friends in the department, she applied and was hired.

“It’s been a revelation for me,” she said. “I never realized how much officers were having to do on the street.”

Blair said the police academy was mentally tough, because she had to shift her way of thinking.

“I had to really catch myself not to think like a dispatcher through the academy,” she said. “I had to retrain myself to think like an officer.”

Blair currently is going through post-academy training, where new officers are taught Suffolk-specific aspects of the job. Soon, she will be on the streets with a field training officer.

That’s what she’s been waiting for.

“I want to be able to get out and help people,” she said. “I enjoy speaking with people and being able to be a source of help for someone that’s in a crisis.”

Blair believes she will be able to help crime victims through her personality.

“Right now, I think that my heart is pulling me toward situations of domestic violence,” she said. “I want to be able to help people that have been victimized, to let them know they don’t have to stay in this situation.”

Blair said she has finally found her purpose — to be a police officer and help let people know they can change their situations.

“Even when I drove a school bus, I always told my kids, ‘You can make goals and have a better life for yourself.’”