PATERSON, N.J. (PIX11) — As nine leaders of Paterson’s finest were sworn to higher offices on Wednesday, one also made history.
After 27 years of service, Lt. Karen Rayfield became the department’s second-ever Black female lieutenant.
“It’s humbling. It’s deeply humbling,” said Rayfield. “It was always about helping people. That was my main concern, always helping anyone that I came across, and I found I met so many people who helped me.”
Like her fellow officers who also received promotions, Rayfield has had an illustrious career in policing. She and two others who bumped up to lieutenant are now tasked with being a parental figure to sergeants, who are directly in charge of officers. Her hope is to help restore trust with the public.
“To encourage people, to ensure people that things can get better before they get worse,” said Rayfield.
Rayfield is preceded in history by Lt. Sharon Easton, who became the department’s first Black female lieutenant in 2016.
“Proudness,” said Easton when asked about Rayfield’s promotion. “We have 52 women now with our department, and any achievement and any growth and rank for policewomen, I’m always super proud.”
Hoping to build on this progress, Easton said the department is looking to start a “30 by ’30” program, which has the goal of increasing the number of female officers by 30 percent by 2030.
“Now we love our men as officers, but we do want to see a little more representation from female officers,” said Easton. “So that’s my hope, just, we’ll start with 30 percent.”
For Rayfield, she hopes to inspire little girls in Paterson to one day join her in blue.
“I have to quote former President Obama: ‘Yes you can.'”