Greece Police hires its first female African-American officer

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GREECE, N.Y. (WHEC) — We think it’s important that you know the story of Officer Tiffani Gatson.

She made history this week. She is the first female African-American police officer in the history of the Greece Police Department.
News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: “Well first of all, congratulations.”

Officer Tiffani Gatson, Greece Police: “Thank you.”

Brean: “You are the first, female, African-American police officer in the history of this police department. What does that mean to you?”

Officer Gatson, GPD: “It means a lot. I would never think that someone like me would be able to make history and again, it’s a great feeling because I hope it inspires other minority females to try to various different departments.”

Officer Gatson grew up in Rochester. She went to Wilson Magnet High School and then RIT. She moved to Greece and she graduated from the police academy last Friday. Greece Police Chief Pat Phelan tweeted a photo of Officer Gatson with two of her classmates. 

Chief Pat Phelan, Greece Police: “We’re just really pleased she’s with us.”

Brean: “I hesitate to ask what took so long, but what took so long?”

Chief Phelan, GPD: “Well I think if you look at the other agencies in the area, they have similar situations. The suburban departments don’t get a lot of minority applicants. So we don’t have the pool of people to hire from.”

Chief Phelan showed News10NBC the civil service test numbers for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and suburban police departments in the county.

In 2015, 1,255 candidates were approved to take the test. Ninety-two were black.

In 2017, 1,165 took the test. The number of African-Americans dropped to 67. Both years, more than 80 percent of the test takers were white. 

Chief Phelan, GPD: “We can only hire people who take the civil service test. Those numbers are very very low.”

Brean: “How do you think it’s going to affect how you handle situations that you get called to handle?”

Officer Gatson, GPD: “Well I think being an African-American female, maybe depending on the call, some might feel more comfortable talking to me. I’m hoping for positive outcomes when I go to calls. Of course that might not always be the case, but I’m hoping more good than bad.”

The next civil service test to be a sheriff’s deputy or suburban police officer in Monroe County is Sept.14. The deadline to apply was last Monday. The next test is 2021.
Click here for a link to the to all the civil service tests in Monroe County.