Vidor promotes first female officer to captain

Capt. Aleta Cappen

Applause echoed through the Vidor City Hall on April 10 as Sgt. Aleta Cappen again shattered a glass ceiling at the Vidor Police Department when she was promot - ed to captain – the first female captain on the city’s police force.

Before she was the first female captain, Cappen was the first female sergeant at the department, and before that, its first female officer in 1978.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I figure I’d ever be here and do the things I have been able to do for the city and for the police department,” Cappen said at a pinning ceremony Tuesday.

Cappen started working at the department as a dispatcher in 1976 and became a police officer two years later, eventually “assuming almost every role with the police department during her tenure,” according to Chief Rod Carroll.

“I can’t thank enough the people that have guided my career in law enforcement from the time I stepped into the dispatch office green as a goose, didn’t know what I was doing,” said Cappen. “I decided OK, I can do that. I can go to police academy. Why not? And I accomplished that goal and came back to Vidor and worked my way up.”

Cappen wears many hats at the department and will continue working on grants, leading the high school Explorers program and performing any other special services related to community outreach in the city.

In her 35 years on the force, Cappen has seen her share of disasters come through town. During Hurricane Harvey last year, she worked diligently through the disaster even though she was concerned about family members.

“My mom had to be evacuated from her house in Port Arthur to a shelter, and then my son had to go and pick her up to take her to Lake Charles,” she shared.

But Cappen herself could not leave. She is the city’s emergency management coordinator and was hard at work, organizing resources for the community and utilizing limited assets to evacuate 1,400 people on buses out of town to Louisiana. During that time, Cappen displayed leadership skills that impressed her boss and her coworkers.

Rodney Johnson, who has been at the department for six years, was also promoted to captain at the pinning ceremony. Johnson was the assistant emergency coordinator during last year’s hurricane. Johnson will lead the law enforcement division. He is currently working toward a master’s in criminal justice through Texas A&M Commerce. He too was commended for his leadership during Harvey and additionally for his communication skills. After his pinning, Johnson praised Cappen.

“I’d like to thank everybody that has played an important role in getting me where I am,” Johnson began. “Ms. Aleta, you’ve been a great mentor for me. You’ve guided me in the ways of your experience and knowledge that you’ve passed on to me. Thank you.”