MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Throughout the month of March, CBS4 is shining a spotlight on women who have shattered the glass ceiling in our community.

One of those women is Miami Police Commander Nerly Papier.

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“Whatever you want to do in life never give up, if you want something bad enough you can do it,” Papier said.

Papier began her career with the City of Miami Police Department as a civilian temp employee. She later became a secretary, then a police officer, and six years later she was promoted to sergeant. Over the years she continued moving up in the ranks to lieutenant and later to her current rank as commander.

CBS4’s Marybel Rodriguez asked Papier what it was like moving up in the ranks as an immigrant and a woman.

“We all know a police department career is male-dominated. I’m actually only 5’2″, I’m physically small. Not only being Hispanic but having an accent, being tiny, it’s been difficult, but I’ve been able to work with a great group of people and always had support” said Papier.

The determined, heroic, mother of two and the wife of Ronald Papier, who served as the police department’s Interim Chief said none of her accomplishments would have possible if it weren’t for the unconditional support of her mother.

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“My mother lived with me, that was a huge help. Honest to God, I believe I would not have been able to make it if she wasn’t around” said Papier.

Another secret to her success is balance.

“I’m able to keep a good balance between work and family time. My husband, when we’re at work it’s sir and ma’am, and Chief and Commander. It’s very personal when we’re at home, we try not to discuss work. He is my mentor, I’ve learned a lot from him, he’s helped me grow a lot” said Papier.

She too has mentored and helped many officers following in her footsteps. She is also a role model to many little girls including her daughter and her greatest supporter, her mother, who is now her guardian angel.

“I was able to show her that I was able to make it, that I’m successful, that I could take care of my family my kids. I gave her everything she wanted and she ever needed,” said Papier.

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Papier also mentioned that she believes most people find female police officers less intimidating which helps in de-escalating situations. Currently, only about 20 percent of police officers in the country are women.

Marybel Rodriguez