BRADENTON (CBSMiami) – It was a bittersweet day for Master Trooper Barbara Ehrhart.
After 36 years on the job with the Florida Highway Patrol, on Tuesday she worked her final shift.
“I still love the highways patrol. I always will. But it’s time for me to move on,” she said.
Ehrhart is the longest-serving female member of the Florida Highway Patrol, working F-Troop in Manatee County. When she joined the FHP back in 1983, there’d been one female trooper there before her. Since then there have been more than a hundred.
“It was a shell shock for the community. Because they had never seen female police officer’s, much less troopers. Because this was more of a male-oriented position at that point. So, it was some trying times,” recalled Ehrhart.
In those 36 years, Earhart has seen the best and worst parts of the job. The toughest part she said was delivering the horrible news of a fatality. But there have been highlights too.
“I met my husband through the highway patrol, which was exciting,” she said.
BREAKING FHP NEWS! After 36 years w/ the Florida Highway Patrol, longest current serving female Trooper Barbara Ehrhart signs off for the final time!
Trooper Ehrhart served her entire career in Manatee Co & has been an inspiration to us all! Enjoy your retirement! #FHP 🚓 pic.twitter.com/PFAW9UZc1p
— FHP SWFL (@FHPSWFL) July 30, 2019
Earhart has spent her entire career with Troop F, all of it as a state trooper. She could have stepped up in rank but chose not to.
“To me, yes this is my career, but mom was first. I was a mom first. And that’s why I chose to stay here. Because when you promote, a lot of times you get moved,” she said.
Earhart hopes her more than three decades of service has inspired more women to consider a career in law enforcement.
“Anytime that I see any females that are interested I try to let them know that you know, you can do anything you put your mind to,” she said.
Ehrhart says she’s still planning to volunteer as a reservist for the FHP since she’s not quite ready to cut the cord completely.
“I’ve been here the whole 36 years. So, it’s kind of like a home for me,” she said.
Still, it won’t be the same routine she’s known. For more than three decades, she’s been a real trooper in every sense of the word.