Power Women 2013: Brenda Bernot
Chief of Police, Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department
After 28 years with the Pennsylvania State Police, Brenda Bernot decided it was time to retire from her lifelong career in law enforcement. Her intention was to teach criminal justice at the college level, but she quickly realized she’d rather be doing than teaching.
Her revelation came at an opportune time. The Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department had been hunting for a new chief. Their search led them to Bernot, who’s been active in the position since March. The position is a welcome change for the West Chester resident. “Now that I’m working in a smaller area, I’m really enjoying getting to know the members of the community and hearing feedback from them about what they need from us,” she says. “Also, in a smaller jurisdiction, if something needs to be changed, you can change it much more quickly. That’s satisfying.”
In her new role, Bernot is certainly in the minority—less than one percent of all chiefs in the United States are women. She’s currently the only active female police chief in Chester County. In her time with the state police, she became only the sixth woman ever to lead a troop.
Bernot makes it a priority to mentor women in law enforcement and those considering it as career. “It’s an unusual path for women in general,” she says. “It’s a shame because a lot of them are looking for careers where they can feel like they make a difference in other people’s lives. This career certainly does that.”