Two Elon Police sergeants are in the first weeks of new jobs after a historic promotion. Sgt. Ditra Graves and Kedrick King are the first African-American sergeants in the department’s history.
Graves started her career in law enforcement with the Burlington Police Department in 2012, before moving to Elon in 2015. King moved to Elon in 2017 after starting his career in Caswell County in 2012.
Both Graves and King were promoted from officer to sergeant on Sept. 16. For Graves, the promotion is thrilling and feels like destiny.
“Sometimes you may run into some kids or adults that feel like maybe law enforcement isn’t for a particular group of people,” she said. “Now it’s just saying ‘hey you can do anything that you want to do.’”
Only 14 percent of police officers in the country are African-American, according to data from the Census Bureau. And that same statistic is true for females in the industry. Graves said she wants to set an example for interactions between police and the public.
“A lot of times the responses that I get is because the color of the uniform,” she said. “At the end of the day, we’re all humans. It doesn’t matter the color of your skin. As long as you are living right and trying to have an integrable life it’s gonna be alright.”
Graves is now not only a sergeant, but also oversees the canine department. With the promotion, she said she’s discovering the job extends beyond herself.
“Now you’re not just responsible for yourself,” Graves said. “You’re responsible for leading other people and making sure that they are functioning to the best of their abilities and that they reach the goals that they desire.”
Shocked by the news of his promotion, King said he feels blessed and humbled. For him, the new job made him reflect on his upbringing.
“Despite what you go through, you can still overcome and you can still be whatever you want to be,” he said. “Don’t let anyone ever tell you no.”
As sergeant, King said he hopes to build teamwork within the department.
“As a leader, you have to understand that a lot of things are gonna be done and someone’s not gonna agree with it,” King said. “But you have to be that person and stand behind them and say ‘ok this is why we’re doing it, this is how we’re doing it and let’s do it together.’”
But King is looking to extend collaboration beyond the walls of the police station.
“I just wish that more students would reach out to the police.” King said. “Don’t look at us as ‘oh they’re just here to get us in trouble.’ Come to us, take time to get to know us, understand us.”
Graves said she also wants to work on building a relationship with Elon students.
“Students may look for a safe place and sometimes they may be concerned about what they can or can’t talk to police about,” she said. “We’re always available.”