There are currently six African-American women police chiefs in North Carolina, the most the state has ever had in its history.
Four of the six sat down with WRAL’s Lena Tillet to share their experiences being trailblazers from the moment they graduated from their police academies. The women are Raleigh’s Cassandra Deck-Brown, Durham’s CJ Davis, Morrisville’s Patrice Andrews, and Fayetteville’s Gina Hawkin.
“We’ve broken a glass ceiling,” Deck-Brown told WRAL. “So, becoming chief, the honor is knowing that somebody else has that opportunity to get there.” Her class at the police academy only had four women, which was a record at the time.
“There was a proving ground,” Andrews said of her early years in Atlanta’s police department. “It wasn’t because I was a black woman. It was because I was a woman, and I think (everyone just wanted) to see, ‘What is she really made of?’”
And as black mothers, they still have to have the same conversations with their children about how to interact with the police.
“We’ve always been of color,” Hawkins said. “We’ve always had those family members, and that conversation that we have with our family members and our friends doesn’t change because we happen to have our uniform on.”
As for what it takes to do the job well? They each say that “compassion, empathy, communication and quick-thinking” are key. And with the recent appointments of black women police chiefs in other parts of the country, this is now a trend — not a one-off moment.
“Know that it’s not just happening here,” Andrews said. “It’s happening in Dallas, in Portland – it’s all over. It’s happening all over, and I just tell you, I love the black girl magic.”