There is no denying that African-Americans have had a complex relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department throughout its 149-year existence.
Retired captain Ann Young knows that history, which is why the LAPD pioneer now serves and connects with others after succeeding in the black and blue. Today, she connects with "future police" by teaching criminal justice at Cal State Dominguez Hills and two other colleges.
In April 2000, the New York native became the first African-American female captain of the LAPD. She said her career choice was inspired by her positive experiences with Brooklyn cops when she was a child.
"Foot beat officers in New York were so warm. They knew everything about us, " she said. "I think it was true community policing. They would know if we had detention, why we were late from school, if we were working on our homework."
Young served the LAPD for 19 years on the field, working in undercover narcotics, vice, internal affairs, robbery/homicide and more. But being the first female commanding officer at the department had its hardships.
"The entire community is not going to always be accepting of you," she said, "but you stay professional and do your job."
Those experiences inform every lesson plan in her classroom. "Community policing is truly the key and the tool," Young said. "We have to learn to listen to understand."
Devon Taitt, a student in one of Young's classes at CSDH, said he appreciates her lessons and legacy, and not just because of her accomplishments in the force as an African-American woman.
"I don't think it has to be colored, it doesn't have to be gender-based," he said. "We just respect people's accomplishments and their willingness to help others, and I think that she's a living example of just that."
Pioneers like Young are also valued at the Los Angeles Police Museum in Eagle Rock. "Robert Stewart for example, Georgia Robinson," said museum cofounder Bob Taylor, "those are all early black law enfacement officers and they're important to the Los Angeles Police Department."
Young now serves on the museum's board, retired from the LAPD after 35 years. Someday, however, there could very well be an exhibit dedicated to her inside the museum's walls.