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Arkansas sergeant conducts research showing benefit of Black women officers

Sgt. Marilyn Thompson says one of the major benefits of being a Black female officer is the de-escalation of situations in minority communities.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Sgt. Marilyn Thompson has been in law enforcement for the last three decades. She's currently a sergeant of second shift for UA Little Rock and wrote a research paper in 2017 for the Criminal Justice Institute on the benefits of African American women in departments.

One major benefit is de-escalation when it comes to situations in the field in minority communities.

"It was a situation where several white officers were chasing this Black man on Fair Park. I was stern. I said 'STOP! SIT DOWN!' and he literally stopped and sat down in the middle of the street," said Thompson.

She says without any physical or verbal abuse, they were able to handcuff and detain him. 

The man would later tell Thompson that she sounded just like his mother, which made him comply.

Thompson's research touches on the history of African Americans and law enforcement, women entering the force, and how Black women have come to be accepted in departments. 

The first African American woman officer in America was Georgia Ann Robinson with LAPD.

"It kind of intrigued me, the things we went through. Back in the day, women wore heels and dresses and more so stayed in the office to do paper work versus being out in the field where the work is," she said. 

Thompson says the intersectionality between being Black and a woman is looked at as a double strike, unless you remember the benefits of what impact being a part of both minority groups would be. 

There's a sense of wanting professional acceptance as well as community acceptance. There can be a mistrust in both areas.

"I get it. There's depictions in the media about Black women in power in departments," Thompson said. "I have family members and friends who have told me if I hadn't become a police officer, they wouldn't have ever trusted the police."

Although Thompson wrote her paper five years ago, she says the information is still relevant today. In a new conclusion, she told THV11 that she wants more opportunities for Black women in law.

"You're seeing more and more Black females and females in general that's taking over police departments and running it effectively. All we need is a chance," she said.

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