Rochelle Bilal becomes first woman to be elected sheriff in Philly

Black woman wins top cop position in Philly with a reform platform that seems to have resonated with voters

Bilal, a 27-year veteran police officer, ran unopposed after she defeated Jewel Williams, a two-term incumbent, in May’s primary.

Philadelphia police
PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 08: Eagles fans pass police outside City Hall before festivities. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

Rochelle Bilal has become Philadelphia’s first female sheriff.

Bilal, a 27-year veteran police officer, ran unopposed after she defeated Jewel Williams, a two-term incumbent, in May’s primary. Williams was mired in sexual harassment accusations from three women, according to ABC Channel 6.

READ MORE: Philly police chief resigns as sexual harassment and discrimination claims roil department

In announcing her reason for running, Bilal said: “I’m running to reform the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office. It’s time our City has someone who will provide equal justice, compassion and opportunity for every citizen living in Philadelphia.”

The Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office operates under a $26 million budget with 400 employees, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The office handles court security, transports prisoners to court, and manages court sales of property foreclosures and tax-delinquencies.

Throughout Bilal’s campaign, she discussed the need to create programs to help distressed families avoid foreclosure. Her message resonated with voters.

It was a message that Bilal began when she became the first woman to serve as Director of Public Safety in Colwyn borough. In addition to running the police and fire departments, Bilal also started a community outreach program for the Colwyn Police Department.

On her campaign web site, Bilal said she “understands the struggles officers face while trying to keep communities’ safe. She also understands the devastation that families suffer when a loved one is locked up and the effects of insensitive policing in their communities.”

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She promised as sheriff she would “bring Philadelphians together to move the needle where it counts: policing with compassion, helping families stay in their homes, providing gun safety procedures and training, furthering education and introducing reformed programming for people to understand regulations and procedures.”

Bilal currently heads up the Guardian Civic League, a nonprofit that represents about 2,500 Black active and retired police officers. She also serves as secretary of the local NAACP chapter.

We are cheering your victory and rooting for your success, Sheriff Bilal!