North Carolina has six black women police chiefs leading police departments for the first time ever in the state's history.
Raleigh's Cassandra Deck-Brown, Durham's CJ Davis, Morrisville's Patrice Andrews and Fayetteville's Gina Hawkins sat down with local news outlet WRAL to discuss how they achieved the highest office in male-dominated police departments.
“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.” Standing out because of gender is something she is accustomed to. Deck-Brown said her class at the police academy only had four women and at the time that was a record.
Others had different back stories that shaped their careers. Davis and Hawkins got their start at the Atlanta Police Department. Atlanta—considered by most as a black mecca– was not void of racial diversity. The two women stood out because of their gender.
Andrews also believes that her gender made her susceptible to critique and unwarranted criticism.
“There was a proving ground,” Andrews said. “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?'”
Although breaking down barriers wasn't easy, it was necessary because the four women believed that things are changing. Policing will include more people of different races and genders. North Carolina is not unique.
"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."