West Virginia city welcomes its first black female police officer

Charlene Diggs is the first woman of color to become an officer at the Beckley Police Department, and while she grew up in the area and doesn’t feel like her job is a big deal, she understands and feels the weight of so many eyes on her.

“I personally don’t feel like it’s a big deal,” she told The Register-Herald. “But to other people on the outside, looking in, it is a big deal. For Beckley to be so integrated and … for there to be no other black female, ever, on the police department, I guess it is a big deal, in some aspects.”

“To me, it’s not a big deal,” she added. “I just put on a uniform and start my day, just like any other police officer does in this city.”

BPD Police Chief Lonnie Christian said that this is just the beginning of plans for a more diverse, and more qualified, force.

“As far as the other officers, it really doesn’t have an impact, internally,” Christian said. “We see one color, which is blue. They’re trained, they’re working side by side. It doesn’t matter — male, female, race, whatever.”

“But in the community, it does make a big difference. We have a very diverse community in Beckley. For a lot of people, whether it be that they feel they can trust certain people more because they’re female or because of a race factor, whatever it is, sometimes, just, those things help with the trust aspect in law enforcement.”