The largest police department in the country has upped its stakes. For the first time ever, the force will have a Black woman as its chief of patrol.
Chief Juanita Holmes will manage most of the department’s patrolling uniformed officers, CNN reports.
On Thursday, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea made an unprecedented announcement, adding that he was “beyond proud” of the decision. Holmes has improved history by becoming the highest-ranking Black woman in the history of the department, as well as the highest-ranking uniformed woman ever.
“She has walked the walk, and she talks the talk,” Shea said. “I think she is the complete package.”
Holmes will fill the shoes of Chief Fauto Pichardo, who made a hasty retirement in the earlier part of October. Depending on what happens next, Holmes can be a candidate for the department’s next police commissioner.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has failed to place a person of color in this top position. Ben Tucker, who was the second in command at the department and highest-ranking black leader, was overlooked for the position. Instead, De Blasio chose Shea, and before that, it was James O’Neill. But the decision on Holmes is one that De Blasio stands by, saying he is “proud of the history being made.”
“The first African American woman to be chief of patrol. These are important steps for our city,” de Blasio said. “She will have direct leadership over more officers than are members of any other police force in America,” he added.
Holmes has been with the force for 30 years, carrying out her role with “equality, fairness, transparency” something that “has always been at the very heart” of what she does. She vows to carry that over in her role as chief of patrol.
However, this is not the first time Holmes has made history. Throughout her tenure, she has spent time as a sergeant, lieutenant, captain, deputy inspector, inspector, deputy chief, and then assistant chief—which marked her as the first Black woman to serve as borough commander.
Holmes works with 16 immediate family members at NYPD. According to the news publication, she has managed the department’s School Safety Division, as well as the Domestic Violence Unit and the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Training.
Her next goal is to have an impact on race relations between the city and the police department. She hopes to strengthen the ties, adding that “community engagement is ever-evolving in the NYC police department.”
“People want to be heard, and we’re there to listen to them, but they have to play an intricate part in crime reduction as well as improving quality of life,” Holmes said. “Strengthening those relationships is my plan.”