Raleigh PD's highest-ranking black woman inspired by King
Posted February 25, 2011 1:11 p.m. EST
Updated February 25, 2011 9:16 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — Maj. Cassandra Deck Brown is the highest-ranking black woman in the Raleigh Police Department.
Her rise to crack the brass ceiling in a predominantly male profession followed a saying of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King:
"I am not interested in power for power's sake, but I'm interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good."
Brown said she made up her mind to be a cop as a young girl when she saw a black policewoman.
"Watching her literally handle that call, handle her business, make that arrest and get back in her car – she never knew what kind of impact she had on me," Brown said.
Brown graduated from the Raleigh Police Academy in 1987. She was one of only four women in a class of 20.
"We supported each other, and we recognized that to get through this, we had to create a team of one," she recalled. "Those relationships still exist."
From a rookie officer, Brown climbed the ladder to the rank of detective and up to an elite group of four majors in the Raleigh Police Department.
One hundred seventeen officers answer to her, and she has left her mark on crimes that range from murder to shoplifting.
Brown said she aimed to rise to authority in way that left "others knowing that I was fair, I was honest, and I believed in helping others achieve."
The 47-year-old major believes her success in the Raleigh police force shows other women what is possible in law enforcement. She's hopeful that the capital city will one day see a black female police chief.
As for herself, Brown said, she aims to keep improving and bettering herself.
"I can see myself in many capacities," she said. "Going back to my very first resume, my goal is to achieve the highest position that I could attain."
WRAL-TV celebrates Black History Month with Living the Legacy. This month-long series spotlights the accomplishments of local individuals who are living the legacy of their ancestry and great African-American leaders.