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How These Six Black Female Police Chiefs Broke the Glass Ceiling in North Carolina

For the first time in the history of North Carolina’s police industry, there are six female police chiefs who are Black and together, they are a force.


In an interview withWRAL, a local NBC News affiliatein Raleigh, four out of the six female game-changers joined together to share their accomplishment as women of color who are driving leadership change in the police field.

Among the police chiefs are Cassandra Deck-Brown who leads Raleigh’s police department, Durham’s CJ Davis, Morrisville’s Patrice Andrews and Fayetteville’s Gina Hawkins, according to the news station. Catrina A. Thompson, who leads Winston-Salem’s police department, and Bernette Morris, chief in Morehead City, did not appear on camera.

“We’ve broken a glass ceiling,” Deck-Brown said during the group discussion. “So, becoming chief, the honor is knowing that somebody else has that opportunity to get there.”

She further added about the changing faces and gender in leadership roles, “This is a paradigm shift in policing. This is what 21st century [policing] looks like. All we need is the opportunity. Some do it better than others, but we need the opportunity.”

The chiefs told the interviewer, Lena Tillett, that from the first day of the police academy they knew they would have to work twice as hard to get through because they were women something that they said posed more challenges than the color of their skin at times. The Raleigh Police Department where Deck-Brown attended class at the time only had four women, which was a record, according to WRAL.

Police chiefs Hawkins and Davis both got their start while at the Atlanta Police Department and shared a similar experience. Though racial diversity wasn’t an issue while in Atlanta, the two chiefs noted that there were only a handful of women.

“Even far into our careers, it was always a proving game,” Davis said in the interview.

Andrews added, “There was a proving ground. 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'”

According to theNational Center for Women & Policing, a foundation that promotes increasing the numbers of women at all ranks of law enforcement as a strategy to reduce police brutality (more specifically against women), female police officers practice a style of policing that relies less on physical force and more on communication.

The foundation, which was established in 1995 and has conducted nearly 20 years of research. says that despite its compelling research, women are strikingly underrepresented in police departments, with women accounting for only 13 percent of officers across the country.

“Know that it’s not just happening here,” Andrews told WRAL among the police chiefs. “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.”

She added, “When I walked in today, I had to just stop for a second because I saw these women, and I thought, ‘Let me just soak it in.'”

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