Lt. Col. Carter Reflects on Her Years of Service as a Woman in Law Enforcement

Lieutenant Colonel Donna Carter is the first female to achieve her current rank in the NC State Highway Patrol (NCSHP). She joined the Patrol in 1997 as a recruit in the 98th Basic Patrol School, where she graduated alongside two other women cadets. 

After graduating from college, Lt. Col. Carter started her professional career as a physical education teacher.  She noticed the professionalism of troopers at events such as the NC State Fair and was drawn to this challenging career path to see if she could persevere the difficult basic training.

Throughout her career in the NCSHP, Lt. Col. Carter has served in leadership roles within Troop E (District 4 Winston-Salem), Troop H (District 1 Gastonia), Troop B (District 4 Kenansville), Motor Carrier Enforcement, Internal Affairs and Support Services. Her standing within the NCSHP and her journey to her leadership role is a testament to the strength and willpower of all women who serve in law enforcement. In a report published by Statista, in 2019, only 12.8% of full-time law enforcement members in the United States were female. Lt. Col. Carter knew she would be taught everything she needed to know coming into the Patrol with no criminal justice experience. She credits her peers and members of her teams over the years in preparing her to achieve the position she has today.

“One of the first things we teach in Basic School is that you don’t get anywhere in this life alone,” said Carter. “If you work hard and work together, you can achieve goals as a team. We have to work together, no matter what stage you are in.”

She believes everyone goes through the process of earning the right to wear the NCSHP uniform. Though she has faced challenges over the years, she appreciates the growth she has gone through as a member of the Patrol. She mentioned she had some great mentors over the years, and she has tried to be a good coach to others.

“As I celebrate my 24th year with the State Highway Patrol, I reflect back with great satisfaction upon my decision to follow a calling into law enforcement. The journey to becoming a leader is filled with many challenges and successes, but it makes me proud to see what hard work and dedication to your profession can turn into. It is an honor to serve as a leader for the patrol and to continue to support our mission of saving lives.”

Lt. Col. Carter said each day you can make an impact on someone’s life and leave the world better than you found it. It is up to us all to determine if that will be a positive impact or not, Carter says.

Listen to our 2020 Safety Scoop interview with Lt. Col. Carter at

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