Newly selected Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman must restore the dignity of the Capitol Police department in the wake of last week’s riots, ready it for the threat of another potential domestic terror attack, and regain the trust of a shell-shocked corps of more than 1,200 officers, the vast majority of whom look nothing like her, reports Politico.
Her department is under fire for failing to prepare for and control the Jan. 6 insurrection, which resulted in the deaths of five people, including one officer.
Pittman’s ascent follows a familiar trajectory: She’s a Black woman tapped to lead a police department in the wake of a crisis.
But history demonstrates that for them, the job is especially onerous. Police departments remain disproportionately more male and whiter than the communities they represent. Racial and ethnic minorities account for about a quarter of police forces and just one-in-eight police officers are women.
Black woman officers say they face the double-prejudices of racism and sexism while on the beat. And when they assume interim leadership positions, their tenure is often short-lived.
“Black women [in police leadership] have become a great punching bag,” said Sonia Pruitt, a retired police captain in Montgomery County, Md.
“So rather than seeing us as ‘Wow, she’s got the ability to lead us out of this,’” she said, Black women are rarely promoted or taken seriously in leadership positions.