Chief Lanier and Mayor Fenty
Being a single mom at age 15 and also a high school dropout,
it teaches you things about life that no other experience can.
I could have easily gone down the wrong path.
– Chief Cathy L. Lanier
We have the best police chief in the country.
I know that a single positive mentor in someone’s life can make all the difference.
– Chief Cathy L. Lanier
My mother could have given up on me when I didn’t make the decisions that everyone else thought I should, but she didn’t, and that’s when I learned that compassion, understanding, and patience would be the most important characteristics that I employed in my chosen profession. My greatest strength as a police officer is my ability to relate to anyone, no matter their background.
Her mother, Helen Lanier, worked as a legal secretary and helped rear her grandson. Chief Lanier divorced her son’s father, completed her GED at age 16, went on welfare, and got odd jobs to fund her education. She took advantage of the police department’s tuition reimbursement program
to get a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins. She’s had leadership training at Harvard
, a master’s from the Naval Postgraduate School, and is a graduate of the FBI Academy.
She knows what it’s like to walk the pavement. She hears crime stats all day long, but what she really wants to know is, “How’s it going on your beat?” She’s very approachable. But if you go to her with a problem, you’d better have a solution, too. She’ll give you resources if you have an answer she thinks will work, but having no solution is unacceptable to her.
- Chief Lanier and Mayor Fenty
She is a person who can draw a line in the sand that she won’t cross.
– Mayor Adrian M. Fenty
When her boss sexually harassed her, she teamed up with a colleague who had also been harassed. They filed suit against the police department. Their lawsuit was settled out of court. Each received $75,000. She told Parade:
Back then, the culture dictated that it was okay to make explicit sexual comments and have inappropriate contact with female officers. I brought a lawsuit with the goal of changing that culture and hopefully helping others going through the same thing.
It’s exceedingly tough for a woman in a predominately male profession to prevail in cases of sexual harassment. Chief Lanier, however, was prudent. Most predators have more than one prey. When they stick together, it is more difficult to sweep their claims under the carpet.
She survived. She’s thriving and has found joy.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Please join me in wearing your purple and celebrating survivors.