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Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown. Brown is a 1987 graduate of East Carolina Univesity and the first African-American woman to lead the department.

Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown. Brown is a 1987 graduate of East Carolina Univesity and the first African-American woman to lead the department.

By Katherine Ayers

Saturday, February 9, 2013

 

An East Carolina University graduate recently became the first black female police chief in Raleigh history.

Cassandra Deck-Brown, who graduated from ECU in 1987 with a criminal justice major and social work minor, was promoted from deputy chief Feb. 1. Following a nationwide search, she was selected from a pool of 48 applicants.

Deck-Brown, who’s been with the department since her graduation, said she didn’t originally intend to become an officer and completed a college internship in probation and parole in Pitt County.

“I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go in, then one summer I just happened to be in Philadelphia visiting my grandparents,” she said. “I saw a female police officer respond to a call, diffuse the situation, put a suspect in her car and drive away.

“I just saw this calmness, it was a bit impressive the way she handled it and just went on her way,” the chief said.

After that summer, Deck-Brown began to look into law enforcement and policing and began taking career-specific classes at ECU.

“After graduation I was accepted into the Raleigh Police Department,” she said.

Deck-Brown started at the bottom rung of the ladder as a street patrol officer responding to 911 calls and routine calls for service. From there she was promoted to detective where she investigated assaults, sexual assaults and adult abuse cases. She later was promoted to sergeant, supervising a team of officers.

Eventually Deck-Brown became a human resources and recruitment sergeant and later oversaw the commercial-based crimes detectives. Once promoted to lieutenant she became a grants manager and oversaw the “programmatic side” of the department.

Upon her promotion to captain, Deck-Brown became the first female to command a district. Raleigh is divided into police districts and hers had close to 62,000 residents.

“I was almost like a little chief,” she said. “The district becomes the hub (from which police work) and we basically respond to the needs of that community.”

In 2006 Deck-Brown was promoted to major, becoming the first black female supervisor promoted to the rank of sergeant or above. From there she was promoted to deputy chief, then interim chief and now chief.

At one point, being a “meter maid” was the only job women qualified for at the department and they fought for the right to become officers. Deck-Brown said she was thankful for those women that paved the way for her to earn her way through the ranks.

“I stand on the shoulders of those women,” she said. “Being given the opportunity to perform in a way that the ratings showed I was qualified (to advance in rank) made a difference, but those women before me allowed me to have the opportunity.”

Deck-Brown said she now serves as a mentor for other women in the department.

“To whom much is given, much is expected,” she said. “I serve as a role model to women so they see what they can acquire.”

Although she has been with the Raleigh department for 25 years, Deck-Brown said she has never thought about leaving.

“The plus about law enforcement is that every day is different,” she said. “You have so much to look forward to when you come to work.”

Contact Katherine Ayers at kayers@reflector.com and 252-329-9567. Follow her on Twitter @KatieAyersGDR.

via The Daily Reflector.

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