Grace O'Donnell is Miami-Dade's First Female Cuban Police Officer.
She broke barriers when she was hired by the department in 1974, as there was not another police department in the United States with a Cuban-born woman officer on staff.
“I was the first Hispanic female Sargent, first Hispanic female lieutenant, first Hispanic female captain, first Hispanic female major," said retired Maj. Grace O'Donnell. “There were no other Latin females so in the beginning, I used a lot in translations and stuff but still you had to go out and work on the road like everybody else."
Female officers did not even wear pants when she was hired and did not even get the same weapons.
"I had a uniform with a skirt, which really does not lend itself very well to jumping over fences," O'Donnell said. “The men had a four inch barrel gun, we had a three inch barrel gun. There was some resistance from the guys who didn’t want to ride with a female, but eventually you know, you won them over and you became partners.," she said.
O'Donnell spent three and a half decades in uniform, seeking one thing acceptance as an equal.
"that's all you want is you want to be accepted as an equal," she said. "It’s a male dominated career, and you want to look at it as I want to be a police officer, not just a female police officer, not just a Hispanic police officer."
She's now a reserve officer working with comfort animals, as today a total of 368 Hispanic women in the department.
“I’m glad I got to put my stamp on the department, I got to make a difference,” she said.