Bad experience with trooper inspired her 36-year career in law enforcement

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One final radio call: Tuesday, Master Trooper Barbara Ehrhart signed off as the longest current serving female trooper for the state.

“This will be my final 10-42," she radioed. "I want to thank the Florida Highway Patrol for over 36 years of service...I hope that I’ve encouraged other women throughout the years that may have entered law enforcement or may be thinking about entering law enforcement.”

She started at just 21 years old and spent her career in Manatee County.

Ehrhart said she decided to become a trooper after getting pulled over for the first time.

“I got stopped on Thanksgiving morning for speeding by a trooper on I-275 in St. Pete. He was so rude and so mean. I thought to myself, I thought I could do something better than that. I could do that,” Ehrhart remembered. “I think if you treat people the way you’d like to be treated it would be a better place to live.”

Ehrhart said her mission has always been to stay positive and have a positive impact.

“That’s all I’ve wanted to do, is just better myself and I tell the people that I’ve trained over the years. I just tell everybody to keep an upbeat attitude about everything and keep going,” she said.

She investigated thousands of crashes, stolen vehicles, and DUIs. She also met her husband on the job.

“I remember a foot chase with my husband before we got married, that he tackled a man on the ditch and got green slime all over him,” Ehrhart recalled.

She said, in the predominantly male field of law enforcement, she was on the front lines of societal change.

“To have women step into this. People looked at me like, 'What are you doing here? You’re not supposed to be doing this,'” she said. “It’s gotten better and I think more people are open to females being in law enforcement.”

More than anything, she will miss helping people.

“I just remember the people I helped the most, working traffic fatalities, letting them know someone they loved was killed. I try to remember how I would feel if someone had to tell me that. That’s why I tried to be very empathetic with them and try to do what I can do for them,” Ehrhart said. “I could not have asked for a better career in my life. I’m going to miss it.”

As she radioed her last message, she was left with a message:

“Trooper Barbara Ehrhart, thank you for your 36 years of dedicated service to the Florida Highway Patrol, the residents of Manatee County and the greater Florida.”

Trooper Ehrhart will still be a part of the FHP family. She is already signed up to become a member of the auxiliary unit, of which her husband, Andy, is the captain. She hopes to continue to spread her knowledge to new recruits.