Crimewatch: APD SWAT's leading ladies - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Crimewatch: APD SWAT's leading ladies

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Two of Austin's finest are making history as the first female leaders of the SWAT team. SWAT officers are highly skilled and trained and they respond 24 hours a day to the most severe circumstances. Now, a woman is with them, riding shotgun.

Assistant Chief Jessica Robledo takes a moment to introduce herself to the elite members of APD's SWAT team.

"Nothing was every handed to me okay. You guys know what it takes to stay in here. To be in here," said Robledo. "It is my pleasure to work for you."

For the first time, the all-male team is answering to two women with Robledo at the top and Lt. Katrina Pruitt as the direct supervisor.

"Totally broke the glass ceiling," said Pruitt.

Pruitt rides shotgun in the SWAT tanker to every call.

"So, I've got eyes on as they're making entry," she said.

The last time women played a role in SWAT was in the 80s. Back then it was the Special Missions Team. They inspired Robledo as a young officer to work in narcotics. She broke barriers back then too.

"They called us the jump out boys. And I was the first female and they used to call me the jump out girl," Robledo said.

Pruitt worked in narcotics for 11 years and also served as a negotiator assisting SWAT. She gives possible reasons why SWAT may have remained male-dominated for 20 plus years.

"It's not that they would take a female they have very strict guideline for their physical assessment," Pruitt said. "They're on call a lot. So a lot of female when they've got a few years on the department that may not be a role they want to take always being attached to their pager at any moment having to get up and go out to a SWAT call."

Pruitt is still getting used to those calls.

"It is pretty cool except for 3 a.m. when I have to get up and go to work. I keep telling these guys I'm not a morning person," she jokes.

But Pruitt could not be more passionate about her job. She encourages other women to join her.

"Women going forward they have an opportunity here. They have nothing but themselves holding them back," Pruitt said.

"My advice is don't let your fear paralyze you. Fear of the unknown," Robledo said. "A lot of the time women may step back maybe they're not as big, as fast, as strong, but you know what? They're just as smart. They have just as much heart and they have that fire in their gut and they can do anything a man can do."

Lt. Pruitt is also over the bomb squad. Assistance Chief Robledo is in charge of all special operations which includes not only SWAT and the bomb squad, but the air unit, the K-9 unit. She also oversees the highway unit, the 9-1-1 center, victim services and special events.

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