The chief of police

Tyler Martineau/Lingle Guide Chief Endra Andrews is entering her 12th year as Lingle’s Chief of Police. However, being chief was never part of her life plans.

LINGLE – Despite being one of the longest tenured female police chiefs in Wyoming and the second longest police officer in the Lingle Police Department, Endra Andrews said being a cop was not part of her life plans.

“Becoming a police officer was a complete accident,” Andrews said. “What’s funny about that is it’s an accident, but yet looking back, every single thing in my life prepared me for this.”

Andrews grew up near Boulder, Colorado, in Nederland. While the population of her hometown was more similar to Lingle, Andrews loved spending time in the big cities of Boulder and Denver and wanted to live in one of the biggest cities in the country.

“When I was little, I wanted to be a narcotics officer in New York City,” Andrews said. “For some reason that seemed like a cool thing.”

Knowledge was always something which interested Andrews. In third grade she was reading textbooks. By fourth grade she had an interest in sociology which grew when she started reading her youth pastor’s sociology books. In sixth grade her science project was on the effects of drugs.

“I was just enamored, by drugs,” Andrews said with an eyeroll.

Her love for reading was instilled in her by her parents, specifically her mother.

“She was not very intelligent, admittedly. She had told me from the time I was very little ‘I don’t want you to be stupid like me’ and she made me learn how to read,” Andrews said. “I went into kindergarten already reading and so I was armed with a bunch of knowledge, and I loved to read.”

Along with the abundance of knowledge came expectations of going to Harvard Law or Berkley Medicine while Andrews was still in elementary school.

Andrews said her grades started to slip in high school and her career path took a major turn when she met with her former in-laws.

“I went back to my husband and my in-laws and thought we would have a great conversation about what I would be doing with my life and my mother in-law sat down and told me my job was to take care of her son and her grandchild and why in the Hell do you think you can go to college you’re too stupid to be a doctor,” Andrews said. “For hours they just ripped me.”

From there, Andrews started working at the school district where she found a new passion of working with kids.

“I had the opportunity to go up and work at Adams Youth Service Facility, which is a huge detention center serving, at the time mostly Sureños and Crips and any other kid that got into severe legal trouble, but mostly it was gang members at that time, and I loved that job,” Andrews said.

Working with kids ended up becoming a major part of her job with the police department as well since she spends a lot for time at the schools for a variety of events. During her 13 years in Lingle, Andrews has seen many of the kids grow up.

“All the kids that have gone to school here from preschool have known me and it makes things easier. When the older kids go off into adulthood, they find themselves in trouble or something,” Andrews said. “They go down to the bar they get a little too wild and I can just walk in and be like hey get in my car we’re going home, and I don’t have the problems with them.”

A lot of Andrews’ previous life experiences have helped her serve the public, including those who go through domestic violence.

“When I came here and became a cop, I realized that how women are victimized over and over again. Not only in toxic relationships, but when they come to get help, we revictimize them so I became a huge proponent for women and children,” Andrews said.

Andrews has also been studying domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse to have a better understanding of how to help.

While Andrews has enjoyed being a police officer in Lingle, she almost didn’t even apply for the job.

“I came down here to get an application, made it half way down Main Street and turned around and ran back home,” Andrews said. “And with some prodding I came down filled out the application and here I am.”

Andrews has seen plenty of things during her 13 years on the job and loves to meet people at traffic stops to hear about the places they are going.

“I’ve met some very interesting people at traffic stops. I love doing traffic because people are so fun. They get to go places and they get to do things and I’m like, wow this is so cool talking to people,” Andrews said.

There is no doubt community is important to Lingle and especially to Andrews. The chief is involved with a lot of the things which go on in the town and even was accidently added to a high school party group chat making her job a little easier.

With the small community, however, also comes the 24/7 need from the people for their chief.

“I’ve taken a lot of calls from my living room. I’ve had some really good times. Gone through a lot of crises with people,” Andrews said.  “The big difference here is that I know them. It’s not some random person that life is happening to. It’s somebody that I know, which always makes things way more difficult and frustrating sometimes because I can’t just put it away.”

Andrews has had to bury three kids who have graduated from Lingle since she has been on the job but said it is an incredible experience to be there for the grieving families.

While Andrews has had to set up some boundaries to avoid brining her work home, she still understands what her duty is to the community.

“My job is to serve and protect. Serving doesn’t generally happenwhen it’s convenient,” Andrews said.

In terms of her expectations of being a cop, Andrews actually thought it would be much harder because she thought kids would be harder to deal with. Her experiences with cops as a teenager and even a child shaped a negative image of police officers which she expected other kids also had.

Andrews recalled a time when her parents fostered her brother, but he was taken away by the police.

“Cops are scary. I was so little, they were so huge and even though they didn’t say anything or do anything it was terrifying to watch my brother being taken out of the house,” Andrews said.

Her perception towards cops started to change when she started working in the school system and built up a better relationship with the officers she didn’t get along with in high school.

Since becoming an officer herself, she rarely has issues with kids.

“I found out they’re actually pretty good kids after the first year or so. I didn’t have many problems with them,” Andrews said.

As a female police chief, Andrews has noticed some discrimination but said it’s not in the way most people think.

“It’s not about salaries and it’s not about rude comments. Sometimes there’s just a flat out I’m not going to listen to you,” Andrews said. “Sometimes I feel like people like to pat me on the head and stick me in the corner and tell me that I am only good for picking up dogs and dealing with kids.”

Andrews has learned the best way to deal with it is to ignore it and lead by example.

People are also often surprised when they find out Andrews is the chief. The title at first seemed to not carry much weight to Andrews in a small town until former Goshen County Sheriff Don Murphy told the importance of her job.

“I was like, so I’m a chief of 468 people and I don’t have anyone below me and what does that really mean, it’s just kind of chief by default and [Murphy] got kind of angry at me and he said you’re not chief by default. You are a chief. They are showing the respect to a rank, and you were appointed by a mayor not to lead a department, but to lead a town,” Andrews said.

“That was shocking, because having the longest serving sheriff in the state of Wyoming basically just kind of slap me and say, ‘step up’ that was just kind of an eye opener.”

In April, Andrews will be chief for 12 years, and for this year she hopes to keep improving the town and herself.

“My goal as always is to keep everything, shall we say safe, and keep everything in control, Andrews said. “Every time I’m always working on myself and how better to handle whatever comes up.”

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