JPD Officer Sarah King Talks About Being the Only Female Sniper in Kentucky
Looking at Sarah King’s life on paper makes her seem as normal as any member of the general population. She’s a police officer who was born and raised in Louisville, attended NKU on a softball scholarship and graduated 2004 with a degree in criminal psychology. King has a wife, Brittany, an attorney for the court of appeals, and a two-year-old son named Asher. She’s also an officer and sniper for the Jeffersontown Police Department’s Special Operations Group (SPO, commonly referred to as SWAT) and the only female sniper in the state of Kentucky.
“As of right now, there’s only a certain amount of schools here in Kentucky that host basic sniper courses and talking to them and people in the NTOA (National Tactical Officer Association) and KTOA (Kentucky Tactical Officers Association), I am the only one,” King says.
When talking to King it seems as if course of her life — from her time as a softball player to her decision to pursue law enforcement to her role on SWAT — has been fulfilled quite organically — as if everything that has happened to her was something she planned.
“I always thought this field is really interesting,” she says. “In college, with my criminal justice classes, I did some ride alongs with the police that I thought this was a career path that I wanted to go in. The reason I went into this kind of work is because I’ve always really enjoyed helping people.”
Beyond that, King loves to be challenged, something her role as a police officer provides her in abundance.
“I look forward to doing investigations I am given,” she says. “I enjoy working the puzzles and putting the pieces back together and finding that missing piece.”
To top it off, King is a sports and fitness enthusiast.
“And I’ve also been an athlete most of my life,” she adds. “I enjoy the athletic parts of this job whether it’s being on SWAT where you have to be in shape and go to the gym and things like that but you’re always out in the elements and doing things when it comes to SWAT. When you’re setting up and getting deployed, who knows what you’ll be doing. Are we going to be running through the woods or hunkering down beneath cars. I’m kind of an adrenaline junky a little bit, too.”
Many people fall into positions at the jobs or find themselves there with no idea how they got there. Not so with King. She says she has “always been interested in the idea of being a precision marksman.”
After practicing shooting with a recently retired officer, King was told she “definitely” had the capabilities, the “drive and skill and the attitude and demeanor” to become a sniper for the JPD. After conferring with other officers she knew, King decided she would look into taking the plunge into becoming an SPO officer.
“I had to go through the basic sniper course through the Louisville Metro Police Department,” she says. “I really enjoyed that. It starts you out at the very basic, you learn about your rifle, learn how it works.”
And if you’ve ever seen Hollywood portrayals of snipers, such as Mark Wahlberg’s in “Shooter”, King admits that some parts of it aren’t all that different in real life.
“We also learn different math formulas to help for windage and elevation,” she says. “At different distances you’re going to have to make adjustments in order to be on the target.”
More than simply a sniper, King has also learned many other elements of what it takes to be a good SWAT team member. She prides herself on being able to carry out any duties she might be called upon to perform.
“I’m still new,” she says. “But we have training once a month. A full day. It varies each time what we do, what task. I still work on entry stuff. I’m also an entry guy. We’re not always going to be able to deploy snipers so with that I still have to keep my skills honed when it comes to entry.”
This desire for King to understand every aspect of her job, to be a successful leader, she says, comes from an unlikely source: softball.
“From back in my days of being a catcher in college when I was playing softball, I liked to be a team leader, I like to lead the field,” she says. “As a catcher, you’re running the field. You’re making sure everyone’s good, the team knows what’s going on and has control of the situation. When it comes to snipers, it’s kind of the same thing. You are the overwatch. So when they’re making entrance into a house you always have eyes on the house to make sure they’re going in safe. I think of it like a manager. You want to know how to do everyone’s job. I really like that aspect.”
A great feature of being on SWAT is that King gets to put her SWAT-learned tactics and knowledge to use on the beat in Jeffersontown. Another good thing is, we can expect police officers like King, ones who hold the responsibility of their job in serious regard and labor to be the best they can be both for themselves and the people they protect, to be on the streets protecting us for quite some time.
“I don’t like sitting behind a desk,” she says. ‘I like being out here doing things.”