Everyone has a different answer when it comes to handling the question of law enforcement and black people. Some feel it’s a matter of political pressure, others think it’s a representation issue. For those who focus on the latter, the city of South Fulton, Georgia, is changing the tide of things by having every single criminal justice department run by a black woman.
Part of the buzz about the city came when a photo taken by Reginald Duncan went viral, showing eight black women looking at the camera inside the city’s municipal court. Notably, six of the women in the photo occupy the highest slots of the city’s law enforcement hierarchy: Chief of Police Sheila Rogers, Chief Judge Tiffany Carter Sellers, Court Administrator Lakesiya L. Cofield, Clerk of Court Ramona Howard, Solicitor LaDawn Jones and Public Defender Viveca Powell.
Sellers explains that “This is something that happened organically, but it’s a wonderful thing. We bring our experience as African-American women, mothers, and wives to the table every day. So when we’re making those decisions, we certainly don’t forget our experiences.” However, she notes that both she and her colleagues are more focused on doing their jobs than making history.
“I don’t think anyone is going around thinking we’re going to make history and break barriers. We’re just doing our jobs,” Sellers said. “We are all here and invested in the community, and I think that’s what makes it special.” She mentioned that she often works 14 hours a day to try and keep the city safe. The current newly incorporated city’s police force and municipal court just began operation in March 2018, which means that many people in cities across the country will likely be looking to see how they perform.
In that sense, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. One can’t help but look to see how such a group performs, but at the same time, it’s a bit unfair to put that pressure on them. Hopefully, these talented women aren’t held to the double standard that what they do is representative for all black women, but are still given due credit for breaking a glass ceiling that’s been around for decades. In addition, hopefully, this sight will inspire others to try to rise in law enforcement.