It was eight years in the making for Kankakee Police officer Lacie Zingre.
For the Kankakee Police Department, it was a first.
Zingre has became the first woman officer promoted to the rank of sergeant. The 32-year-old Zingre has been on the Kankakee force since 2013.
When she began her law enforcement career, Kankakee was the only department she applied for.
“When I was at [the Police Training Institute], others were talking about how they had applied and tested at multiple agencies. I was like, ‘Wow.’ It was almost like fate that I landed where I did.”
Other female officers have taken the sergeant’s exam, so the weight of her accomplishment is not lost on Zingre.
“It’s everyone’s victory,” she said. “While law enforcement is still a male-dominated profession, there is plenty that females have to offer and there is room for us, too.”
Many of the local female police officers are mentors to Zingre as well as other female officers in the county.
Among them are retired Kankakee officer Sue Wagner, Angie Kinstner of Illinois State Police, Teresa Lanie and Brooke Payne of Kankakee County Sheriff’s Department, and fellow KPD officer Marci Gearhart, who has been on the force for 30 years.
“Marci was a big push. She said, ‘You got to do this,’” Zingre recalled. “We all support one another.”
Zingre also has the support of her male counterparts on the force.
“You grow a bond with one another,” she said. “When there’s trouble, your training kicks in. You work as a team. You can’t do this working solo.”
To women looking to get into law enforcement she says, “Know your strengths and constantly work to improve your weaknesses. Always work to improve yourself and learn new skills. Let your skin be thick, but maintain compassion and self-love.”
From the start of her career, Zingre’s goal was to be promoted in rank.
“Pretty much since I got hired by Kankakee and found out a female had never been promoted, it was so unbelievable. It was 2013 and no female had been promoted. It quickly became a goal of mine,” Zingre explained.
Retired Investigation Commander Jay Etzel worked closely with Zingre throughout her career.
It came as no surprise to him to learn Zingre had been promoted to sergeant.
“She’s going to be a fantastic addition in a supervisory role as our first-ever female sergeant,” Etzel said.
“That says a lot about her character and her work ethic. She will continue to make Kankakee PD the best in our area.”
As he handed Zingre her sergeant’s badge, Kankakee Police Chief Frank Kosman said, “You have been working hard, overcoming obstacles, proving yourself, which you have done.”
Outgoing Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong has watched Zingre grow in the past four years.
“The first time I met you, I saw the passion you had,” Wells-Armstrong said during Zingre’s promotion ceremony last Friday.
“You are an asset to the community, particularly our young people. They love you.”
Zingre enjoyed working in Kankakee School District with the students.
“I like to make a difference in their lives,” she explained.
Now she gets to make a difference in a new role.
“I’m not done climbing yet,” Zingre said.