Six black women currently hold the title of police chief in North Carolina, marking the first time this has happened in state history
Among them are Raleigh’s Cassandra Deck-Brown, Durham’s C.J. Davis, Morrisville’s Patrice Andrews and Fayetteville’s Gina Hawkins, all of whom spoke to the local station last week about their experiences being women of color in leadership positions within the force. The women opened up about what’s it like being in the male-dominated field and the obstacles they’ve overcome. Women only make up 13 percent of the police force in America, according to the National Center for Women and Policing.
“We’ve broken a glass ceiling,” Deck-Brown told WRAL’s Lena Tillett. “So, becoming chief, the honor is knowing that somebody else has that opportunity to get there.”
The women, who said they often feel the need to do more to prove their abilities to men who may doubt them, have over 100 years of experience among them. Andrews, who was sworn in to her position in Morrisville last year, was the fourth black female police chief appointed in her area. Others, like Hawkins, who began as Fayetteville’s police chief in June, became the first woman and first minority in the city to do so.
The police chiefs recognize the existing tensions between cops and the black community and the unique challenges they face in building trust while keeping communities safe. The women acknowledged that compassion, empathy and communication were among the key traits they display on the job ― and that these qualities can contribute to a positive change in the way cops police communities, especially those where people of color are specifically targeted.