Thomasena Grider, a UK graduate and a 13-year Lexington police officer, was promoted to sergeant by the department on Monday.
She made history as the department's first black female sergeant. Grider graduated from UK in 2005 with a sociology degree, police spokesperson Brenna Angel said.
Grider decided she wanted to join the force while participating in a police internship. After watching a female officer pull over a large semi-truck on a busy Lexington road, Grider said she was convinced that she wanted to do police work, according to a press release describing the promotion.
Now, Grider is serving as one of seven female officers in supervisory roles.
“I don’t look like 90 percent of my co-workers. But inside the department, I’ve never felt different,” Grider said, according to the press release. “Even as a patrol officer, some women are the only female in their squad, and they take care of business just like everyone else. That’s what I looked up to when I was first on, and hopefully I’ve learned a lot of those traits so that the newer officers, male or female, can see that in me.”
According to the press release, promotion to sergeant is voluntary. Officers study department policies to be able to pass a written exam and an oral board interview. Officers that score high enough on both are slotted for the promotion when a position opens.
The historic achievement which comes with the promotion is something that Grider said she has mixed feelings about.
“I’m glad to have that happen," Grider said. "I’m glad to be a part of the history of the department. It’s also a little different feeling, because it’s 2019. So there’s that side of it as well. Hopefully most people will see that we’re making strides toward something different.”
Grider, a mother of four, will have to switch to third shift patrol— 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.— because of the promotion. But she said her husband, who is also a police officer, will be there to help their family make sense of the schedule.
She said in the press release that she's proud to be a role model for others, both male and female.
“Don’t wait for someone that looks like you to be the person to make that change," Grider said. "If I would have waited for someone that was a minority female, I may not be in the position that I’m in right now."