My Distinguished Esteemed OFJ Members,
The Officers For Justice Peace Officers Association (OFJ) recognizes March as our Women's History Month. This month we say, “ASE” (All Seeing Eye) or “Ashe Selah” (so be it, so it is) to several accomplished Black female law enforcement executives.
Based upon the 2020 report generated by the Department of the Status of Women, in San Francisco we still make up a relatively small percentage of the officers in the San Francisco Police Department. No matter how insignificant these statistics may appear, we recognize women have had a major influence and impact in law enforcement, and definitely in the San Francisco Police Department. Women in our department have created and enhanced trusting long lasting relationships as well as demonstrated transformative leadership in our diverse communities.
In 1908, Lola Baldwin became the first sworn female police officer hired by Portland, Oregon. Like so many other women of color in law enforcement, I stand on the shoulders of women like Alice Stebbins Wells the first Black American-born female police officer hired in 1910 by the Los Angeles Police Department. Beverly J. Harvard, the first Black female police chief of a major city (Atlanta). Jacquelyn Barrett, the first Black female sheriff and the first female president of NOBLE. On a local level retired Commander Sylvia Harper, the first Black female Captain and Commander of the San Francisco Police Department.
Today, women are leading law female enforcement agencies across the country. There are approximately 175 (one hundred seventy-five) women chiefs of police in the United States. I proudly say in the midst of the COVID pandemic we concluded Black History Month in February 2021 on a few high notes for several Black women. The U.S. Park Police has named Pamela Smith as its new chief, making her the first Black woman to lead the 230-year-old law enforcement agency. On January 8, 2021 another historic first occurred, the U.S. Capitol Police named Yoganada Pittman acting chief of police. Black females are leading us into historical firsts due to national reform measures, reimaging, and our persistence in breaking the glass ceiling. Other firsts for Black females continue occurring in other places such as: Raleigh, Fayetteville, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle, Portland, Virginia, Richmond and Dallas to name just a few. Change is slow, but we must all acknowledge the need for change across America can no longer be disregarded.
As your President, I will continuously remind you about the importance of dedicating yourself to ensuring justice, equality, and reformatory processes continue to co-exist, recruit, mentor and remind other women of your presence, seek leadership opportunities. With our presence, change and positive transformations will occur.
Women let’s continue to be courageous, bold, be strong, Stand Up! This month I am so proud of each of you press on and be honored every day not only during Women's History Month.