Meet the NYPD's first female counter-sniper

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Det. Tina Guerrero, the NYPD ESU's only counter-sniper.

You know what they say: sometimes the best man for the job is a woman. Det. Tina Guerrero is a mother, wife, and counter-sniper dedicating her life to keeping the city safe.

Guerrero usually starts her workday at 11 p.m. so she can have the days with her children. But as an NYPD counter-sniper, she is sometimes on the other side of the clock in broad daylight for target practice.

I sat down for an exclusive interview with this 5-foot, 1-inch married mother of three in the break room of the NYPD's ESU Truck 10 base in Queens. Guerrero is the department's only female counter-sniper. She insisted to me her highly dangerous job in the Emergency Service Unit is fulfilling and even fun.

"Being the lead bunker on a search warrant -- the first one being able to go through the door -- to me is just exciting," she said. "You don't know what that unknown is, and what's going to happen."

Soon after the birth of her first child at 24, Guerrero became a police officer. She worked undercover in Vice but wanted the challenge of being in the prestigious ESU, which handles everything from hostage situations and people pinned in cars to presidential details. She felt it was a greater opportunity to protect the public, and she didn't let her gender or size stop her.

"It's like a big boy's playground, and I wanted to play in it. I was welcomed with open arms," Guerrero said. "I've always been treated with the utmost respect."

Part of the reason she gets respect is because she carries her own gear -- no easy feat when the tactical vest alone is about 50 pounds and there is all kinds of other gear to carry, depending on the emergency.

For the members of the NYPD's counter-sniper team, constant training is a must. That is why they spend a lot of time at the Rodman's Neck firing range.

"In the beginning, I really was a little intimidated by it," she said. "I'd never really shot a precision rifle before. And hearing the term 'counter-sniper' -- you're looked at a little bit of a higher level, and it's a big responsibility."

She showed me the range and told me she has never had to use her Remington 700 M24 rifle or service weapon in the line of duty. But she must be prepared. During our visit, Guerrero hit a 1-inch square from 100 yards away.

Back at the base, I wondered how she goes from cleaning a high-powered rifle to making school lunches.

"You just try to leave that here, and go home and just take this hat off and go home and put my other hat on that says 'mom' and leave it at that," Guerrero said.

She said the support of her husband -- Det. Lenin Guerrero, an ESU officer in another command -- helps and so does the support of the men in the unit.

"There's always someone willing to teach you something, always somebody there to answer questions for you," Guerrero said. "As long as you're willing to do the job here and go out there and work, you aren't going to have any problems."

Guerrero told me she is sharing her story with the hope of inspiring other women to come into this special unit to see just how much they can become and contribute.