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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Highway Patrol is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the state. The agency doesn't employ too many female troopers, but there is one woman who spends her shifts on patrol, and in good company.
"I've been a trooper for a little over three and a half years," Mary Kaye Lucas says.
And she's right where she wants to be: in the driver's seat of a Utah Highway Patrol car. It has been a long road to get there, though.
Mary Kaye started out working as a dispatcher for UHP in 1997. While she was satisfied with the intensity of her job, all along she dreamed of being on the other side of the radio.
"I started with dispatch because I thought 'This will be fun and get me into law enforcement;' and eventually I did want to become an officer someday," Mary Kaye says.
That dream stuck with her, and as fate would have it, two years later she met a UHP trooper who was instrumental in pushing her to accomplish that dream.
Mary Kaye and Donovan Lucas became husband and wife. They had two kids together and another from a previous marriage.
As a mother, Mary Kaye thought staying with dispatch would be a safe alternative to her lifelong ambition to patrol -- but ambition is a hard emotion to quiet.
"You live vicariously through your husband for so long, you're like, '0h, I want to do that job!'" Mary Kaye says.
"She wanted to do the trooper thing, and I was more than happy to have her do it," Donovan says. "It's been her dream job, so let's go for it."
Mary Kaye passed the exam in January 2006. Since then, she's been on the road doing what she loves.
There are a total of 19 female UHP troopers out of the 485 statewide officers. That means only 4 percent of the UHP are women.
"Sometimes people are surprised on stops, like, 'Oh, I wasn't expecting a woman,'" Mary Kaye laughs.
It's certainly a boys club, but Mary Kaye says you earn respect as long as you pull your weight. That's something her husband is very proud of.
"It's a good thing. She does a good job out there," Donovan says. "I always hear compliments."
Mary Kaye even gets admiration from strangers, in the form of young girls staring at her.
"Their moms will be like, 'See, girls can be anything they want.' And I say, 'Absolutely. Yes you can,'" Mary Kaye says.
Mary Kaye and Donovan were married on September 11, 1999. They chose the 911 date, appropriate for a couple in law enforcement. They are one of two couples who patrol for UHP.