COVINGTON, Ga. - When Covington Police Department detective Julie English was a little girl growing up in Massachusetts, she had only one career aspiration - to be a cop.
“Ever since I was young enough,” she told The Covington News. “I knew I was going to be a police officer. I didn’t know it was going to be in Georgia, because I’m a Yankee.”
The daughter and granddaughter of retired Salisbury, Massachusetts officers and the step-daughter of an Atlanta cop was recognized by CPD Chief Stacey Cotton Tuesday for her 30 years of service to the citizens of Covington. Her tenure makes her the longest serving female officer in CPD’s history.
English said she moved to Georgia about a year after high school graduation to live with her mother and step father in Riverdale. In addition to Covington, she applied with Atlanta and DeKalb County.
“I applied to the Atlanta Police Department, DeKalb Police Department and Covington. Tom Lake was the personnel director and Chief Moody was the chief. Within a few weeks, they said ‘come on.’ It was amazing. God is wonderful and it came true.”
After a six-week police academy, English was assigned to the department’s evening watch. She credits Capt. Willie Davis with helping her early in her career.
“Captain Davis helped me the most. He was my captain on the evening watch,” she said. “Two to ten. It was amazing.”
While she was not Covington’s first female officer, English said she was the only one when she got here. She said her male colleagues did not require her to prove herself because of her gender.
“There is something that you do have to prove, but not necessarily to the other guys that you’re working with, but to yourself,” she said.
English said that once she got here, she knew she would make it CPD her career.
“I went through a lot of stuff with DeKalb, but then Covington called. I had made a choice when I was growing up. I’m going to finish high school, get a career, get a house and get a family,” she said. “I had it all planned out. I knew wherever I started would be where I would finish.”
The mother of two and grandmother of one said if she was choosing a career in 2018, she wouldn’t choose policing.
“If I was going into the police department in 2018, there is no way I would be a police officer today,” she said. “It’s just dangerous-I mean every vehicle that you stop has a gun. Two out of three persons have a gun on them. And the drugs – the drugs are just terrible.”
As a detective handling investigations in Zone 3, English handles all kinds of investigations.
“Anything that happens in your zone, you handle it,” she said.
After 30 years on the job, English speaks highly of the people she serves and her co-workers.
“The citizens of the City of Covington – they are wonderful, they’re amazing,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons I stayed here- because of the citizens. That and the people I work with.”
Assistant Chief Phillip Bradford told The News he’s worked with English her entire career. He referred to her as “dynamite in a small package,” talking about an incident early in English’s career when a suspect was sizing up his choices of fighting or running.
“A lot of criminals will size up an officer when deciding whether to fight or flight,” he said. “A young man was going to try to fight her before back-up arrived.
“She dumped him on his head.”
Bradford said English’s abilities go far beyond her toughness.
“She’s smart-very smart and street smart. But her heart is bigger,” he said. “She cares about what she does. She’s earned her respect on the street and she cares deeply about this community.”
Cotton said of English’s time on the job, “Julie has been a great employee for 30 years and also a good friend. She has the distinction of being the longest serving sworn female officer in the history of the Covington Police Department. She has impacted many people over her years of service and has served her community well.”
Asked about the positives and negatives of her time on the job, English said she’s proud that the community has come to know they can count on her.
“Positive, that’s what we get back from the community. They know we’re here to help,” she said.
“The negative is just seeing all of the abuse with children. It’s just tough. That’s what’s been more of a heavy burden than anything. Just these kids that are…”
English said she plans to stay on the job another six or so years. When asked if she was drawn to the job for the glamour of being a cop or to help people, English said it’s all about helping.
“Just to help,” she said. “The uniform doesn’t do anything for a female officer, so the glamour wasn’t there. It was totally on helping people.
“And it still is today.”