At a promotion ceremony on Friday, Bareneise Dixon earned the rank of major in the Mobile Police Department, becoming the first African-American woman to reach that milestone in one of Alabama’s largest police forces, WKRG-TV reports.
Dixon, a 28-year police veteran, saluted the “efforts of those that paved the way” for her to reach that historic milestone.
This comes against the backdrop of a police department struggling to recruit officers, especially from the city’s African-American community, the CBS news affiliate reported in February.
Mobile Police Chief James Barber told the news outlet 12 percent to 15 percent of its officers leave the force each year, and attracting new officers is a challenge. He blamed the chorus of voices nationwide expressing outrage over police brutality in Black communities. But Barber sees that protests as unfair.
“When you villainize a department or agency, it hurts our minority recruitment,” he told WKRG. “So, the ability to diversify our recruitment classes is increasingly difficult.”
The local NAACP chapter president, Lizetta McConnell, told the news station that the recruitment problem stems from the department’s history with the Black community.
She stated: “If they [African Americans] saw you[police] in the community doing good things like what we saw after this big rise in police brutality against African-Americans, and they saw you more in the community and not just to quiet us down…..That’s how you begin to build trust.”