ANDOVER — Mary Barlett wanted to be a police officer since she was a child, but there were few female role models for her to follow.
Today, Bartlett is a detective lieutenant in the domestic and sexual assault unit of the Lawrence Police Department.
She is also the most recent recipient of the Women of the Year award from Delamano Inc., a non -profit organization dedicated to eliminating domestic violence through intervention and education.
She received the award during a dinner at the Andover Country Club Friday.
“My father told me ‘you can do basically what you set your mind to’,” she said after receiving the honor.
Delamano operates a helpline in English and Spanish and assists victims with access to temporary shelter, advocacy, support, counseling and educational programs.
President Mary McAlary said Delamano is Spanish for holding hands.
”Let’s hold out hands to help victims of domestic violence and make a difference,” she said.
Bartlett was presented the award by Police Chief John Romero and three seventh graders from Esperanza Academy, an all-girl middle school in Lawrence.
”I’m overwhelmed with gratitude,” she said later. “I’m very grateful to service the people of Lawrence.”
Born in Methuen, Bartlett graduated from St. Mary High School and attended Lowell State College.
Bartlett was appointed a reserve officer with the Lawrence Police Department in 1989 and became a police officer the following year. She was promoted to Detective Sergeant in 1999 and in 2002 to Detective Lieutenant. Before joining the Lawrence Police Department, Bartlett was a bookkeeper at Lawrence District Court for five years.
After Romero was named chief, he said he read the files of several officers and was impressed with Bartlett’s work in the department. He said officers who work with sexual abuse cases usually stay on the job between three to five years, but Bartlett has been doing it for 24 years.
”She sees the worst of the worst, but no one has more compassion than Mary Bartlett,” Romero said.
Throughout her career she has received many accolades including the Greater Lawrence Exchange Club Police Officer of the Year in 1996.
She was issued a commendation in 1999 from the New York City Police Department for assisting in solving a murder there.
”I wanted to help people and be of service,” she said. “This job means the world to me because it’s very rewarding. We focus on the victims who are survivors, we also keep an open mind because it’s equally important to clear people who are innocent.”
In addition to the award ceremony, the Esperanza Academy students read essays about women who have inspired them.
Cristal Delarosa said she admires the late Princess Diana for her work with AIDS awareness, but her mother is her role model.
”My mom is not famous, but her example is a great inspiration to me and my sister,” Delarosa said. “My mother inspired me because she is someone who works hard every day and takes care of her family.”
Julissa Fernandez chose Japanese atom bomb victim Sadako Sasaki, who was 2 when the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. Sasaki contracted leukemia and while at the hospital a friend taught her how to make paper cranes. The Japanese believe that you can get a wish granted by folding 1,000 cranes. She was only able to make 644 before she died.
”Although she wasn’t able to bring about world peace, her dream inspired many people, including me,” Fernandez said.
Patricia Iniro wrote about Burmese human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi who spent 15 years in police custody for her opposition to the military government. She went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal in 2012. She is now a member of the Burmese Parliament.