As one of the very first women in law enforcement in 1965 in Franklin County, Ohio, Nancy Gene Giles faced challenges in a male-dominated profession, yet managed to follow her own different path even as she encountered all the issues and prejudices of that era.
In her memoir of that formative time, The Accidental Deputy: Navigating the '60s with a Badge: Protests, Guns, Drugs, Men and Chaos, Giles begins her account with stories of her family, and the important examples set by her grandparents, her mother, and especially her father, who in retrospect shaped her for the unexpected law enforcement career from a very young age.
Giles then recounts her service in the Sheriff's Office, including her readiness to say “yes” to becoming a Deputy Sheriff; her experience with police training, including becoming a trainer and learning what effective police training requires; gaining acceptance from her all-male co-workers; and the meaningful mentoring and support she received from the prominent Sheriff, Stacy R. Hall, Sr.
Some of her experiences will make you laugh out loud: her initial training days, buying the department's first uniform with a skirt, driving a huge station wagon fully-marked cruiser, and becoming the first pregnant deputy sheriff. Giles also shares raw and dramatic stories as well, including a rape investigation, a bloody car crash accident, her encounter with a used heroin needle-and the moment a thief aimed his gun directly at her.
By the mid-'60s, Giles and her colleagues faced some of the same challenges we face today, such as chaos on the streets, protests for racial equality, police training on crowd control techniques, and the barriers faced by young women in particular.