Civil Servant of the Week: Sugar Land PD’s Mayra Cardenas
By Michael Sudhalter
Mayra Cardenas has worked in law enforcement in Fort Bend County for the past 11 years, first in Meadows Place and Stafford, and now with the Sugar Land Police Department.
Cardenas, 35, said she was interested in public safety from a young age to be able to help out people without a voice.
“When crime (victims) get justice, it makes all of the (officers’) long hours and lack of sleep worth it,” Cardenas said. “To me they’re not victims, they’re survivors.”
“A lot of brave men and women who, regardless of how scared they are or how crazy it sounds, still do what they do because it’s their calling. We don’t question it. We just go so everyone can sleep at night and live their lives. But we also have families to get back to each night.”
As a relatively new Meadows Place officer in 2005, Cardenas survived a situation where a suspect attempted to strangle her before Fort Bend County Sheriff’s deputies intervened. That experience only emboldened Cardenas to bring suspects to justice.
Cardenas is married with two young children and does everything she can to set a good example for them. She currently sits on the board of directors for Behind the Badge, a non-profit organization that supports law enforcement officers.
“I want to make sure my kids have a good future and that everything I do is for them,” Cardenas said.
Cardenas has a story that epitomizes the American Dream.
She was born in a small village in El Salvador, without electricity or other amenities, and moved to the Houston area at age 3.
As a teenager, she applied for citizenship and passed the test.
“It was a huge accomplishment,” Cardenas said. “I worked really hard for it. People who were born here don’t understand what a privilege it is.”
Soon thereafter, she attended the police academy. Growing up in a Harris County neighborhood, Cardenas said many people around her didn’t have a positive view of law enforcement.
“I really believe you can’t complain about something if you’re not trying to fix it yourself,” Cardenas said. “I wanted to be a voice for everybody.” While Cardenas has worked as a detective in Stafford, she feels most at home as a patrol officer.
“I’m always going to be a street cop – I have more contact with people,” she said.
Cardenas is also a Field Training Officer and a certified basic instructor.
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