It’s 10 o’clock and most of the city is settled in for the night. But Sharmaine Harris-Howell’s day is just getting started.

As a Moline police officer that works third shift, she’ll be on patrol until sunrise.

It started a little over five years ago.

“And I was like inside a building and I was like, you know, I don’t want to be inside all day,” Harris-Howell said. “I like to move around, get out and do something different every day.”

It was in the police academy where she realizes as a woman she’d sometimes have to go that extra mile. 

“My FTO told me, he asked me when I first got here… ‘What do you think? How do you think people are gonna judge you? And I’m like I don’t know what you mean, and he’s like they’re going to be comparing you to and to see if you can handle yourself just like the men,” Harris-Howell said.

Keeping up with her male co-workers isn’t the hard part.

“There are times where people prefer a woman to talk to,” Harris-Howell said. “A lot of times we go to calls and we’re able to deescalate things sometimes better than our male counterparts in my opinion, and our uses of force are lower.”

What can be challenging is balancing life behind the badge and her other full-time job: Being a mom.

Sometimes even that part can be scary.

“Yeah, she sent me out the door with ‘Mom don’t die today,'” Harris-Howell said.

But most days, the good outweighs the bad.

“It can be satisfying. You just can’t get away from it. To me it’s one of the best jobs.”

Which is why each night she puts that uniform on with a purpose.

“I can pull somebody over and they’re like, ‘Hey that lady was actually pretty nice,’ you know? So police officers can change the way people think about law enforcement and that’s my goal every day,” Harris-Howell said.

She hopes to eventually move up the ranks…

“We don’t have any women in command right now. That’s where I’m going, that’s where I’m going.”

But in the meantime, she’ll keep doing what she loves most.

“Come in just like any male would and people don’t realize how valuable it is to have women on the force.”

Proving when it comes to the call of duty, it doesn’t matter who you are, but how you answer.

“We’re approaching things in a way so you could have a whole shift of females and the department trusts that they’re going to go out and do their jobs just as good as the males.”