Friday, March 5, 2010

Women Making History: Laytreda Schultz

I wrote about two women for the Women Making History supplement in the Idaho Statesman on March 4th, 2010. Laytreda was one.
The articles are not available at IdahoStatesman.com, so I've posted them here.
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Laytreda Schultz goes to work surrounded by what she fears most. She is a marine law enforcement officer who cannot swim. She is also a visionary who sweats the small stuff and a sheriff’s sergeant with enough financial smarts for street cred at a CPA convention.

“Marine work got me out of the office,” she says, “and it was also a way to make extra money.” But her biggest motivation was overcoming her fear of water. “A lot of kids learn to swim when they’re young, but I didn’t. I grew up afraid of water. Although I’ve conquered that fear, I still have a healthy respect for it.”

Laytreda started with the Elmore County Sheriff’s Department in Mountain Home, Idaho as a dispatch operator when she was a teenager. After 14 years, she had worked her way up to supervisor. When she found that she could go no farther to advance her career, she tried a year working in Boise. But Laytreda soon returned to the sheriff’s department, this time working in both the warrants and the accounting offices. She tracked down outstanding warrants throughout Idaho and across the country. And as an accountant, she honed her skills at tracking down and capturing the funding needed to help keep the sheriff’s department in operation.

When a part-time position on marine patrol opened up in 1996, Laytreda seized the chance to get out on the water and face her fears. Although she doesn’t see herself as a daredevil, she admits that she enjoyed the challenge of running white water. She says, “The first time I took a boat through some rapids the adrenaline rush afterwards was amazing!” And it wasn’t long before she used her financial skills to locate funding for greater resources and better maintenance of the marine facilities.

Laytreda left the paperwork of the warrants office for the towns of Elmore County after she helped obtain funding for a community policing deputy. In this position, she patrolled in town during the week and still spent weekends on the water. During her first year as a new deputy, Laytreda attended the Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Academy, was certified, and became a sworn law enforcement officer. This gave her the authority to arrest suspects.

Five years later, Laytreda was promoted from deputy to sergeant. “It’s hard to explain what I do,” she says. “My job didn’t exist when I started and it’s different every day.” She supervises deputies in Pine and Featherville, who are responsible for backcountry law enforcement in the mountains of Elmore County. When the primary marine deputy left, she began supervising the marine program as well. Over the years her job has expanded to include Recreation and Search and Rescue.

Laytreda is also responsible for special events like the Three Island Crossing reenactment. This commemorates the Oregon Trail pioneers who crossed the Snake River near Glenns Ferry. The journey was a perilous one for the pioneers, but fortunately for modern-day river crossers, Laytreda was standing by to help ensure everyone’s safety. She especially remembers one year—seeing a close friend swept off his horse in the chaos of an overturned wagon and the struggle to unhitch the horses. Although her friend was not injured, her helplessness, as her jet ski stalled in the moss-chocked water, haunts her. “It’s still hard to think about. I can still see him in the water and remember tying to get to him but not being able to.” Laytreda watched over her last crossing in August, 2009, when the event officially ended after 24 years.

Laytreda is also involved in safer events like Shop with a Cop. This program helps children from disadvantaged families buy Christmas gifts for their siblings and parents. Each December, over one hundred law enforcement officers convoy through Mountain Home, lights flashing, for a shopping spree with young deputies-for-the-day.

Even with a heavy schedule in law enforcement, Laytreda still helps manage the department’s finances—nearly a full-time job by itself. “If I had it to do over again, I would be an accountant,” she says. “You have to live on a budget at home. It’s the same thing here at the sheriff’s department. Knowing your limitations and working within them is the key to a successful program.”

Although she understands the limitations of the sheriff’s budget, Laytreda shows limitless creativity in locating sources of funding. She knows where to look for money and how to secure it through warm personal relationships and persistence. She says, “When I walk in to the county commissioner’s meetings they sigh and ask me what I want.”

Once the sheriff’s department has purchased new equipment, Laytreda shows the same persistence and attention to detail when maintaining it. Her fleet includes boats and jet skis for marine work, and snowmobiles and four wheelers for search and rescue work. She is currently planning a new county building that will provide safe equipment storage, plus offices and classrooms. Even in these difficult times, she has located enough source of funding to reach her goal.

Laytreda’s coworker, Deputy Sheriff Nancy Hawley, says, “Laytreda stays on top of the little stuff, so that the big stuff all works.” Laytreda sees herself simply as a problem solver. “I solve the community’s problems through my law enforcement work, and I solve funding problems at the sheriff’s office.”

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