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Increase in female police chiefs helps to better reflect communities

Posted June 28

— A virtual town hall meeting Wednesday night at the North Carolina Central University School of Law focused on building relationships between police and the community, including how the department can better reflect the people it serves.

The notion of police departments reflecting communities speaks to a recent trend after Fayetteville hired former Georgia deputy Gina Hawkins to join the growing ranks of female police chiefs.

The move brings Hawkins, who begins work in Fayetteville on Aug. 14, back to the state where her law enforcement career began.

“I went to school at North Carolina Central University. I started my career there,” she said earlier this month.

Hawkins joins three other black, female chiefs of police in the Triangle- Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown, Durham Police Chief Cerelyn Davis and Morrisville Police Chief Patrice Andrews.

Increase in female police chiefs helps to better reflect communities

Phyliss Craig-Taylor, Dean of NCCU’s School of Law, said there’s a reason women excel in leadership roles when it comes to law enforcement.

“They have what we call the sixth sense. They are intuitive and they tend to be very much focused on details, so we tend to be good problem solvers as leaders,” Craig-Taylor said.

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Research shows that women make up about 13 percent of all officers and less than 2 percent off all police chiefs. The recent trends indicate, though, that the ranks of female chiefs of police are increasing.

“It says that they are picking great people,” said Chris Blue with the Chapel Hill Police Department.

Blue said the hiring of female police chiefs is less about gender and more about qualified officers with leadership skills.

“I think any department and any community is most interested in getting the right fit for their community, for their town at that time,” Blue said.

The task then becomes building a relationship with the community they want to serve and protect.

“You have to have people who can reach out to the communities and, when the community sees them, they think the department represents them,” Craig-Taylor said.

Portland, Oregon was the first city in the United States to hire a female police chief back in 1908.


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