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Bisa French was a single mother who became a cop at age 22. After years of struggling to provide her son with a good life, she is now the first African-American woman captain in the Richmond Police Department in Richmond, California and the youngest captain of any gender or ethnicity. On June 2, the 37-year-old took her position at the police department.

French’s life has changed since she first started in the force. She is now married to a police sergeant in Oakland and a mother of three children.

French is of African-American and Puerto Rican heritage. She attributes her work ethic to her parents. Her father, a carpenter, never missed a day of work. French was attending Napa Community College when she discovered she was pregnant. A recent high school graduate, French gave birth to her son and a week later returned to school for her final exams.

In 1998, French started with the Richmond Police Department. She admitted that it was a predominately male environment and she was personally ‘approached’ by officers upon her arrival to the force. She did date a few, but says she “soon realized that that wasn’t a good idea.”

Captain Bisa French now works under the guidance of Chief Chris Magnus. To date, she is the highest-ranking woman in the department and second-highest ever. Her new appointment also makes her one of only two black women to obtain the rank of lieutenant.

As part of her responsibilities, Bisa French serves as graveyard watch commander, which is the highest-ranking officer on duty from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. She works alongside Chief Magnus at the Family justice Center, which assists victims of domestic violence.

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