First female deputy hired in Armstrong
Diane Graham made history on Feb. 10 when she started her job at the Armstrong County Courthouse.
That was the day Graham, 39, became the first woman to be hired as an Armstrong County sheriff's deputy.
The married mother of three sons is at ease and comfortable at her new post and seems to become nervous and hesitant only while talking about herself.
With her long, wavy brown hair and shy smile, it may be hard for some to believe she has spent the past 19 years working as a corrections officer at the Armstrong County Jail.
But Sheriff Bill Rupert said people shouldn't be fooled by Graham's seemingly shy demeanor.
“She knows how to handle herself,” he said.
Graham said she hadn't originally planned to get into law enforcement.
“I wanted to do something outdoors, something to do with forestry,” she said.
Graham likes camping and riding a four-wheeler. She grew up in North Buffalo Township, attended Kittanning High School and graduated in 1992 from Lenape Technical School in Manor, where she studied agricultural science.
But once out of school, she applied for the position of corrections officer at the Armstrong County Jail for one simple and practical reason: She needed a job.
“I didn't regret my choice, but I missed the outdoors when I was trapped behind walls and bars,” she said.
Now she is enjoying the camaraderie of her fellow deputies while performing duties that often take her outside beyond the confines of the courthouse. But, she said, she misses the friendships she had with the jail staff.
Jail Warden David Hogue said Graham works well with people and has been a good, dependable officer.
“She respects inmates and they respect her in return,” he said. “It's bittersweet that we're losing her, but it's good for the county in the long run.”
Graham is an asset to the Sheriff's Department – not just because of her experience in corrections – but because the jail had to provide a female officer about twice a month to accompany women inmates being taken to and from the jail, Hogue said.
“I stole her from the jail,” Rupert said, adding that Graham is able to provide supervision for females during restroom stops while transporting inmates and can assist the county's drug task force team if a woman needs to be searched.
It was an easy transition for Graham, Rupert said, because she remains a county employee so everything, including her pension, just transferred over from her years at the jail.
“The time was right for her and the time was right for the Sheriff's Department,” Rupert said. “We needed a female deputy because the number of women involved in crimes – especially drug-related crimes – has been on the increase.”
Hogue agreed, saying that when he started at the jail in 1984, there were times when the jail had no female inmates at all. A recent jail count showed that of the total 144 inmate population, 24 were women.
Graham joins the ranks of six other full-time deputies whose duties include transporting inmates, providing security for the courthouse and serving court papers.
Deputies also assist the coroner at fatal crashes and suspicious deaths and provide assistance to police at crime scenes, Rupert said.
Graham said her family is proud of her accomplishments and of her new position.
“I didn't get into the field I thought I'd get into,” Graham said. “But I'm happy with my decision and I like helping the community.”
Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Man robs Kittanning convenience store early Tuesday
- Ford City officials discuss code enforcement
- Armstrong spared worst of nor’easter’s wrath
- Paving funds could go to housing repairs
- Ford City Council overrides veto, police cuts stay
- Another threat yields no bomb at Armstrong high school
- Paranormal investigators coming to Ford City library
- Armstrong beekeepers banding together in Kittanning
- Kiski man’s death sparks calls for safety when ice fishing
- Numine man survives crash into icy river
- Kittanning YMCA waives sign-up fee