A FORMER Dalry woman has retired from her dream job 35 years after she left Kilwinning Academy and moved to America.

Angela Stewart wanted to be a police officer since the age of 10, so when she joined the Los Angeles Police Department she knew she had hit the jackpot.

The 53-year-old moved to California to live with her father when she was 20.

She said: “It was hard. I was leaving everything I knew behind, but it was out of necessity. It was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.”

Arriving in the US, Angela tried to join the police force, but she was told she had to be a citizen first – a process that takes five years.

But as soon as she could, Angela was signed up and on her way to LAPD police academy.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Angela Stewart joined LAPD 27 years agoAngela Stewart joined LAPD 27 years ago

“The first day you all line up on a black painted line and the instructors come out,” she recalled. “They start yelling, getting up in your face to try and weed out the people that can’t handle it.

“I’m from Dalry, I used to hang out in Glasgow. I can handle someone yelling in my face.”

After seven months, Angela started her probation of the streets of Hollywood.

“It’s as weird and wonderful as you could possibly imagine,” she said.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Angela Stewart in her patrol carAngela Stewart in her patrol car

One case that sticks in her mind was when a spree killer, who had committed five murders in one day, ambushed Angela and her partner in the Hollywood Hills.

She told the Herald: “We had a description of him, he didn’t know someone had seen him leaving the crime scene.”

Angela remembers having her finger on the trigger ready to pull, the only time in her career she said she was preparing to shoot someone. The man continued to approach Angela and her partner as they repeated their instructions for him to show his hands.

He took his hands out his pockets and the police officers moved swiftly to arrest him, finding a gun in the pocket of his baggy clothes.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: LA Rams football gameLA Rams football game

Angela was made detective, covering serious crimes in the city from auto-theft to attempted murder.

She was awarded Investigator of the Year in 2008 for implementing a program that tracked when people held for mental health reasons tried to access guns they owned, for which they would need a judge’s ruling.

Angela also received a proclamation from the Los Angeles City Council and the Mayor for helping a family in need.

The pandemic has meant she has been unable to visit her family in Scotland, including her mum Roberta in Dalry.

She said: “I still consider it home. My mum hasn’t been able to come out this year. That’s been tough, but she has neighbours that check on her so at least she is safe.”