History made in SCSO as first African American woman is named Chief Inspector

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Sheriff's Office is making history as they now have their fist African-American female Chief Inspector of Internal Affairs.

"I didn't see the African-American females in the top executive positions, or the chief positions or the inspector positions. So you do feel like maybe there is a brass ceiling there - like maybe you can only go so far," Rosalind Harrison said.

Harrison called that a damper but not a deterrent when she began her career in the 1980's.  She recently accepted the position as Chief Inspector after she was made Captain in 2017.

"That was history also. We promoted two African -American female captains," she explained.

The Hamilton High grad initially started on a different side of the Sheriff's Office, working in the jail but dreaming of a different path.

"I had that aspiration of law enforcement and I would see the brown shirts come in and I would say, 'hey that's my goal, that's what I'm doing. That's where I'm going."

She made it a reality, going through the Deputy Sheriff Academy.

"Immediately went to the narcotics division. The jump and grab unit," she explained.

Her drive didn't stop there.

"Taking the tests, doing an excellent job, coming to work and being committed to the Sheriff's Office as well as the community."

Harrison was promoted to Sergeant, moving into internal affairs, climbing up the ranks to where she sits today.

She said the women working within the Sheriff's Office are dedicated and passionate.

"It's not just about me. It's about the change that I feel is now within the Shelby County Sheriff's office for all women."

She says the role of women in law enforcement is crucial.

"We bring a different aspect, a different look to each and every situation, whether you're out there in the field working cases or investigating."

A field she wants more women to be part of .

"I don't want them to have this 30 year journey you know getting to this chief position. But I do want to see more women period, African American women, just women period come into the department. I hope others look at me and say, 'hey she did it. I can too.'"

Harrison's journey was not always easy. In 1998 she was part of a group that filed a racial discrimination lawsuit, that she says they won.

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