Breaking down barriers: A conversation with Pa. State Police’s first black woman Deputy Commissioner

Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Lieutenant Colonel Kristal Turner-Childs has spent more than 20 years working for the Pennsylvania State Police.

She has an impressive resume. She was the first person in her family to earn a college degree. Then she was the first African-American woman to command a troop.

Now she’s adding another first to her list with the appointment of State Police Deputy Commissioner.

“I’m not one to believe in a glass ceiling. I just believe the sky is the limit,” Turner-Childs said.

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Turner-Childs recognizes that her identity is important in a field lacking diversity.

“I try to utilize that skillset, being a female, being a person of color,” Turner-Childs said. “I think it’s my responsibility to always say hey let’s not forget, we have to include, we have to be inclusive.”

She knows just how much representation matters because she remembers a black female lieutenant she looked up to when she was starting out.

“And I remember thinking to myself wow, she made it through this academy and now she’s all the way to a lieutenant. I can do this,” Turner-Childs said.

At a time when the relationship between law enforcement and people of color is strained, she feels it’s on law enforcement to take the first step to fix it.

“Reaching out, extending the hand to the community and saying we hear you, we care, now let’s try to figure out how we can come together and make this situation better,” Turner-Childs said.

It’s not an easy job, but breaking down barriers is a habit for the Lieutenant Colonel.

“Every day is not a win here, and I recognize that. What keeps me going every day is knowing I get another opportunity to try and impact the community that I stood and took an oath for,” Turner-Childs said.

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