North Carolina currently has six Black female police chiefs, the first time this has ever happened in state history, according to WRAL. Raleigh’s Cassandra Deck-Brown, Durham’s C.J. Davis, Morrisville’s Patrice Andrews and Fayetteville’s Gina Hawkins, three of the six chiefs, spoke to the station about their unique positions.
“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.” All three said that they felt that they had to work much harder than their white male counterparts, and they all were sure to acknowledge the increasing enmity between police and communities of color, an enmity that they are trying to help soothe.
They said that they are working to introduce more empathy and compassion to policing in an attempt to help change the way that police are perceived by their communities, especially in areas that have a history of specifically targeting people of color.“This is a paradigm shift in policing,” Deck-Brown said. “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.”
Hawkins, the mother of black children, also admitted that it was sometimes hard to reconcile her life and the fact that police often are the perpetrators of racism. “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.”