Baltimore Police Officer Martha Sprinkle Believed To Be Longest-Serving Active Female Officer In U.S.

When someone has been around for decades, it could take a lot to surprise them. But on one particular day at Baltimore City Police headquarters, a veteran officer got the surprise of her life.

Video Transcript

- A historic honor for one Baltimore police officer.

- She's incredible. She served the city for decades and she set a record while doing it.

- Pretty cool. WJZ live at 5 o'clock tonight. Ava-joye Burnett has more on a surprise that has really been 40 years in the making. Ava-joye.

AVA-JOYE BURNETT: Good afternoon. This story really reinforces the fact that you never know who's really watching you. Family members and co-workers came together to honor this woman who is quite possibly the longest serving active-duty female police officer in the United States. When someone has been around for decades, it could take a lot to surprise them.

MARTHA SPRINKLE: Oh my god.

AVA-JOYE BURNETT: But not today.

MICHAEL HARRISON: Today makes the first day of her 41st year.

AVA-JOYE BURNETT: Officer Martha Sprinkle wasn't expecting this. A hug from the boss, her family showing up on the job. But on special occasions--

MARTHA SPRINKLE: It was quite touching.

AVA-JOYE BURNETT: --exceptions are made. And then reality kicks in that what she's known for so long may soon be a thing of the past.

MARTHA SPRINKLE: It's tough to give this career up.

AVA-JOYE BURNETT: Officer Martha Sprinkle started her routine on January 12, 1981.

MARTHA SPRINKLE: This is something that I've done for 40 years. Put the gun belt on and came here to hopefully touch somebody's life and make a difference.

AVA-JOYE BURNETT: And boy, did she make a difference. Eventually, her baby sister joined the force.

- She's a great inspiration. She's a great detective. A great police officer.

AVA-JOYE BURNETT: Then her niece.

MARTHA SPRINKLE: And then all of a sudden they're coming to me saying that they want to be a police. And you're saying, are you old enough?

AVA-JOYE BURNETT: Then her nephew.

- To have such an honor bestowed on her, it's an amazing feeling.

AVA-JOYE BURNETT: Officer Sprinkle is the longest serving female officer in Baltimore's history, and the department believes she also holds the record in the US for a female officer who's still serving. In an era of increased tension, this is her message to her niece and nephew who are on the force--

MARTHA SPRINKLE: The most important thing as you go home at night, make sure that you take care of people the way you want to be taken care of.

AVA-JOYE BURNETT: Officer Sprinkle says she plans on retiring this year, her 41st year in service. Live tonight, Ava-joye Burnett for WJZ.