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Famous secret agent: Chelsea Henry’s journey into law enforcement

Chelsea Henry is pursuing a career in law enforcement after seeing the events of 2020. (Photo courtesy of Chelsea Henry)

By Sarah Killip / Staff Writer

Chelsea Henry was 5 years old when she told her mom she wanted to be a famous secret agent. Her interests have varied since then, but recent events have reignited that idea of having a career in law enforcement. Now a junior sports management major and an athlete on SUNY Brockport’s women’s basketball team, Henry continues to focus on her studies while working as a trainee for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. 

“In my little young mind, being a famous secret agent sounded like the best dream job to have,” Henry said. “But I changed it to something more realistic, a police officer. However, to actually pursue and learn more about becoming a police officer was difficult. Being a young black female, I had limited access to resources and information which delayed my path to having a passion in law enforcement. So that dream slipped and faded to the back of my mind.” 

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It wasn’t until the events of 2020 that Henry reconnected with the idea she had as a little girl to pursue a career in law enforcement. 

“When I saw the video of George Floyd’s death I was frustrated and scared, yet eager to make a difference,” Henry said. “Then later on when I learned about the death of Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York, I couldn’t believe it happened in my own city. I’m hopeful for the change that my city needs and I quickly realized that I wanted to be a part of it.” 

Henry participated in a peaceful protest in Rochester, which led her to become a trainee for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.  

The protest awakened something inside that moved me to take action to change the system from within. It gave me a mission and a purpose to focus on the type of person I want to be as a law enforcement officer,” Henry said. 

There’s a wide array of beliefs toward police officers. Henry feels that to make a change there needs to be as many people as possible with diverse perspectives involved in the field. 

“With me joining law enforcement, I’ll be able to help influence the system from the inside out,” Henry said. “Joining law enforcement as a black woman in a white male dominant career is an immediate action I can take. I don’t know what branch or area I want to go into yet, but I definitely want to be a law enforcement officer that protects and serves the community.” 

Henry started as a trainee for the sheriff’s department in September. She works 18 hours a week, completes tasks assigned by the deputies and learns about the different branches in the sheriff’s office.  

As an athlete on Brockport’s women’s basketball team, Henry has received support, guidance and opportunities from her teammates and coaches that have helped her career path.  

In addition to being a part of the Monroe County Sheriff’s office, Chelsea Henry also plays on Brockport’s women’s basketball team. (Photo credit: Sam Cherubin via Flickr)

“Learning how to work with others from different backgrounds and building a bond and sisterhood with my teammates is an important experience that also relates to law enforcement,” Henry said. “Our core values, specifically resiliency and accountability, have helped shape who I am.” 

Henry’s parents have been a strong part of her support system since the beginning. 

“As a parent, I’ve always wanted to encourage my kids to dream big; aim for the moon and if you miss, that’s ok, you’ll be among the stars,” Dr. Myra Henry, Chelsea’s mom, said. “When Chelsea said she wanted to be a ‘famous secret agent,’ I didn’t discourage her, but instead tried to unpack her intentions and support her dreams. Chelsea’s dad and I are proud of her interest in law enforcement. It’s a noble career choice with several pathways to make a difference.” 

Navigating through this field hasn’t been the easiest. Henry’s encountered experiences that have been challenging and made her more aware of her gender and race, but she is determined to make an impact and continue to fight for a change within law enforcement.  

“It hurts me to see police brutality toward other African Americans, however it pushes me to be the change that is needed in the system,” Henry said. “I’m just grateful and excited for this opportunity to make a difference in my community.”

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