NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — History was made Friday with the pinning of the first African American woman to earn the rank of Captain in Norfolk Police Department history.
The trailblazer who put in the work to get there, Captain Michele Naughton, says it was an overwhelming moment.
“I just hope young girls and young ladies see my story, and it motivates them that if you dream it you can achieve it, to know that it comes with hard work,” said Naughton.
Captain Naughton says her journey was difficult and seemed nearly impossible at times, but she put her faith in the man upstairs.
“In the academy I tore my ACL and my meniscus, so I had to have surgery. It took me almost two years to get out of the academy. In 2005, I was diagnosed with cancer and I couldn’t keep the baby, so I had to deal with that, not knowing if I was going to live,” Naughton said.
Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone says the moment, 22 years in the making, even got him choked up.
“I got a little emotional as you can tell, I had a difficult time getting through the oath because it was so surreal, and women, anytime they break that ceiling, particularly in a men’s occupation, it’s tremendous,” stated Boone.
With each promotion and greater responsibilities, the cancer survivor, single mother and new grandmother, since 2018, has increased her level of commitment to community engagement, recognizing that the heightened level of outreach will positively affect civic relationships, now and for the next generation.
Captain Naughton serves weekly as a literacy tutor with the PLUS initiative, co-hosts the bi-weekly radio talk show – “WE Are ONE – NPD and YOU,” in addition to the Cops & Curls, Five-0 & Fades, and Building Relations Before Graduation initiatives.
“She treats everyone as if they were her family, she’s friendly, thoughtful and caring, and in today’s climate as a police officer, that is a wonderful characteristic to have,” said Director of the Life Enrichment Center, Wanda Turpin.
Naughton is getting transferred to the Chief’s office, where she’ll be over the public information office and involved in community engagement, which she says is the perfect fit for her.