TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Last July, Melissa Hyatt became the first woman to lead the Baltimore County Police Department.
Yes, she’s a woman — a fierce one. But that’s not why she got the job.
Hyatt said she ignored gender and focused on hard work to get to the top spot. Her story echoes that of a new CBS series, “Tommy,” that premieres Thursday night.
Looking back on her time as chief so far, Hyatt said the job chose her.
“Although it’s not something I initially ever set out to do, it really became something that I aspired to do,” she said. “So ending up in a job in the jurisdiction where I grew up and lived my entire life, really was a dream come true.”
Hyatt spent more than 20 years on the police force in Baltimore city, following in her father’s footsteps. While he has since retired, she’s grateful for the example that carried her to the top rank.
When asked about the biggest piece of advice or lesson her dad taught her, Hyatt said it came down to two things.
“Hard work and dedication really do pay off and it’s not easy,” she said. “There are times that you may have to put in more hours than some of the people around you. Sometimes you have to work a bit harder.”
Real-life stories like Hyatt’s being told on CBS’ newest prime-time show “Tommy,” which stars award-winning actress Edie Falco as the first female police chief in Los Angeles.
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While the vast majority of law enforcement officers — 87 percent — are men, Falco thinks “Tommy” can change that.
“If they see it on television, it’s a little like ‘ No, I guess it’s possible. I saw it on CBS,'” Falco said in an appearance on CBS This Morning.
Both on and off the screen, it’s not an easy job.
“I think it’s just important to stay true to yourself,” Hyatt said.
Woman or man, one thing is certain: shattered glass from ceilings Hyatt soared through now leaves a path for others.
“I know that over the course of time I can make a difference in my role,” she said.
“Tommy” premieres at 10 p.m. only on CBS and streaming on CBS All Access.