CHARLESTOWN — When the Charlestown Police Department sought applicants to fill a vacant patrol officer position, Police Chief Michael Paliotta said he was looking for "the best man for the job."
It just so happens, he said, that the best candidate, as determined by written tests and staff interviews, was a woman.
Officer Shannon Kane joined the department late last month after completing training at the Rhode Island Municipal Police Training Academy, where she graduated alongside 33 other recruits from 16 law enforcement agencies across the state on May 24. Kane, 24, a resident of Newport, will continue to receive formal field training over the next several months and is a welcome addition to the force, Paliotta said last week.
Kane worked for the department as a part-time emergency dispatcher for six months before being hired as a patrol officer.
"Her enthusiasm is infectious," Paliotta said. "She was our top candidate and ever since being hired, she has come to work with a smile each day and is motivating others to help make a difference in the community."
Kane is the first full-time female officer hired in Charlestown in nearly two decades. The town has always sought to employ the most talented and dedicated officers it can, Paliotta said, but has struggled to find qualified female applicants since the retirement of Sandra Langlais.
Kane, the daughter of Russell and Lorraine Kane, was raised in Florida and spent her summers as a teenager along the shoreline in Long Beach Island, N.J. She gained her open ocean lifeguard certification when she was 16, and earned a bachelor's degree in communications from Pace University in New York City.
Being a lifeguard, she said, made her realize that she wanted "to find some way to protect and serve people. I enjoyed helping people, but I knew wanted to find a way to do more, to help a greater number of people."
After college, Kane was hired as an officer with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, an experience that convinced her that she wanted a career in policing. She got to know Rhode Island during a trip to Newport for a lifeguard competition and knew she wanted to return.
Paliotta said the department couldn't be more thankful that she decided to move, noting that she was considered the department's top recruit following an extensive selection process at the start of the year. "There's no doubt she has a skill set that will help us in many ways moving forward," he said.
Kane said she was ready for the challenge, and was also looking forward to stepping out from behind the wheel of her cruiser to get to know residents and business owners.
"For me, I want to interact with people and get to know those from all walks of life," she said. "I hope to get to know my community, to make the kind of difference where everyone feels comfortable to stop when they see me and shout, 'Hi Officer Kane!'"