“I haven’t always wanted to be a cop,” said Detective Alexis Mirra. “I wanted to go to film school!” Yet earlier this year, Mirra became the first female detective in the history of Hopewell Township.
Mirra, originally from White Township in Warren County, NJ, was made Detective in May 2017, after seven years on the force.
Growing up with detectives in her family, Mirra landed a job as a transcriber for the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office. For two and a half years, she worked as a transcriber and, inspired by her work and colleagues, felt drawn to pursue a career in law enforcement.
“My female co-workers were role models to me and steered me,” she recalled.
With their encouragement, Mirra enrolled at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Forensic Psychology. At the Union County Police Academy, she studied for six months using the “alternate route” – paying for her own education.
One of seven women in a class of 40, Mirra was well aware she was taking a road less traveled.
“It’s still a rarity,” she said. “Most of us go into [law enforcement] knowing it’s a male-dominated field, and knowing we have to work that much harder.”
Not one to shy away from hard work, patrol officer Mirra set about the task of becoming a detective. The rank requires at least one year of on-the-job experience, a letter of intent, a sparkling resume with examples of investigative work, and an essay about why the candidate wants to become a detective.
“I am so grateful and very proud to have finally met this long-time goal of becoming a detective, and to have had all of the hard work that I’ve put in over the last several years pay off,” she said.
Mirra – now Detective Mirra – said she also appreciates the opportunity to give back to in a meaningful way. Detectives are typically dispatched to crime scenes during their on-call shifts, after patrol officers arrive. They traditionally work both in the field – processing crime scenes for fingerprints, collecting evidence, questioning witnesses – and in the office, where they conduct more detailed investigative work.
For Detective Mirra, her work fuels an interest in the pursuit of facts. “I love digging,” she laughed. “When I was on patrol, I loved that and wanted to make that arrest myself!”
As a do-it-yourself sort, Detective Mirra said she is constantly seeking opportunities to further her education and better serve the community and is currently in the process of earning a Master’s in Forensic Psychology.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of doing everything I can to educate myself and become the most well-rounded officer I can for Hopewell Township,” she said, citing classes on interviews and investigation, and specialized training sessions on subjects including, recently, arson investigation.
While Detective Mirra is focused on being the best possible Hopewell Township Detective, she recognizes her position as the first woman to do the job is noteworthy.
“Law enforcement is still very much a male-dominated field, but we are just as capable as men,” she reflected. “Different people bring different things to the table, for example certain victims might be more at ease with women. And, it’s important for women to not to treat each other as competition,” she continued, “We should help each other out and be an example for future female officers.”
In gratitude for her work in Hopewell Township, Detective Mirra shared, “I am fortunate to work for a department with a Chief that understands the value of having female officers on the police force,” Mirra said, about Hopewell Township Police Chief Lance Maloney. “Chief Maloney has been extremely supportive and seems to be very excited about having the Department’s first female in the detective bureau. I’m very grateful for the opportunity that he has given me and look forward to this next step in my career.”