This post was originally published on WBALTV NEWSAdd to Favorites
Baltimore police Lt. Col. LaTonya Lewis is moving into a new office and a new position in charge of Homeland Security for the Police Department, and in the process, she’s making history.
Just last week, Baltimore police Commissioner-designate Darryl De Sousa announced new appointments as he is reorganizing his staff.
“(I’m) proud. It’s not too often anybody can be the first at anything. I’m really excited about it,” Lewis said.
Lewis is opening up a new chapter of her life as the highest-ranking African-American woman in the Baltimore Police Department.
“The unit is responsible for our communication, information technology, central records and CitiWatch TV cameras throughout the city,” Lewis said.
It is a big change from how she started out. In 1994, she worked as a parking control agent.
“People do not like parking control agents,” Lewis said.
Lewis would frequently have to call police to help her with irate drivers.
“After a while, officers got tired of seeing me and they would say, ‘LaTonya, you should join the Police Department, so we don’t have to keep coming to help you out,'” Lewis said.
In 1996, she did just that. In her 21 years on the force, Lewis has held patrol positions the Southern, Western and Northeastern districts. She served as commander of the Northwestern District, as well as in operations, neighborhood services, education, training and earned a bronze star. Lewis said the force has served her well.
“It’s been able to provide a life for me and my family. You grow and meet a lot of people in the community, and it’s a big family here,” Lewis said.
Women and girls tell her that if she can do it they can, too.
“My Facebook is blowing up with young women inboxing me and friending me, asking how they can become police officers,” Lewis said.
While she’s getting a lot of positive feedback, she knows the department faces credibility challenges.
“We have a long road ahead of us in terms of bringing our credibility back in place,” Lewis said.
Lewis is determined to help make that happen.
“I’m really going to be more of a support for patrol officers on the street because they are the backbone of the agency. They can’t get their credibility back until they have the resources and technology they need to be successful on the street,” Lewis said.