Carson woman makes history again with Highway Patrol promotion |

Carson woman makes history again with Highway Patrol promotion

by F.T. Norton, Appeal Staff Writer

Michelle and Danielle Sandage will have bragging rights to their mother’s legacy some day.

But at 8 and 6 years old, their attention was directed more at the snacks laid out than the fact that their mom was becoming the first woman to be promoted to the rank of captain in the history of the Nevada Highway Patrol.

To them, she’s just “Mommy.”

“What’s after captain?” Michelle asked Friday as she nibbled on a doughnut at the NHP offices in Reno. “It’s something that starts with an ‘M.'”

The rank of major may not be very far off, considering Jacquelyn Sandage, 34, of Carson City, was the first woman promoted to lieutenant only last year.

Her husband, Ken Sandage, a lieutenant with the Carson City Sheriff’s Department, said he long ago predicted her rise through the ranks.

“She’ll be the first woman chief,” he said assuredly following a short ceremony in which Sandage’s rank was pinned on by her father, Jack Mertz, and children. “She’s talented. She’s educated. She’s very focused on her goals.”

An 11-year veteran of the patrol, Sandage is taking over the Reno urban command where she oversees management of 90 troopers and civilian employees.

With her recent promotions, the native Nevadan is keeping company with other department pioneers like Lorie Libby, who in 1980 became the first female trooper, and Camilla J. Munns, who achieved the title of first female sergeant in 1989. Munns also was the first female to serve 20 years with the agency before her retirement in May 2002.

Sandage’s mother, Nancy Mertz, of Reno, said the youngest of her two daughters was introduced to law enforcement during college.

When no police departments were hiring, Sandage got her teaching credentials and spent some time substituting at elementary schools in Reno before becoming a trooper in 1992.

“We are extremely proud. She is a very capable young woman,” Nancy Mertz said.

During the promotion ceremony, Col. Dave Hosmer noted Sandage was moving up quickly in the ranks.

“It is with a great sense of pride that we get to promote Jackie, at somewhat lightning speed,” he said. “Boy, if there’s a glass ceiling at the Highway Patrol, look out, there’s a titan missile on the way.”