New Orleans police’s first Black woman officer has died

July 06, 2020

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The first Black woman to serve as an officer in the New Orleans Police Department has died.

The department announced Yvonne Bechet’s death on Twitter Sunday, saying the legacy of the 22-year veteran of the police force will “never be forgotten.”

Bechet was one of the first seven women to enter the department’s Academy in 1968, WWNO-FM previously reported. During her career, she was “among the first courageous advocates for reform of the NOPD,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement Monday.

Bechet told WWNO-FM in 2018 that she encountered racism during the early parts of her career, including a moment when some officers called in sick to avoid doing an assignment with her.

She previously said the officers did this “because they knew I was an African American.” Bechet said she received an apology from the officers after her boss heard about the alleged incident.

She eventually rose up the ranks to serve as a deputy superintendent in the police force. During the span of her career, she also worked as an undercover narcotics officer and a commander of the community relations division, the radio station reported.

“She didn’t just talk the talk, she walked the lonely and often dangerous walk,” Cantrell said.

National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial, the former Mayor of New Orleans, issued the following statement on the death of Yvonne Bechet, New Orleans’ first Black woman police officer: 
“New Orleans has lost a true trailblazer with the passing of Assistant Superintendent Bechet. She not only persevered but excelled at a time when not only women but Black officers were a rarity in the Department. She overcame racism and sexism to become a respected leader within the department. She embodied the spirit of community policing long before it became a watchword for modern policing.
“It was among the proudest achievements of my father, Ernest ‘Dutch’ Morial, to appoint her Assistant Superintendent when he served as mayor in the 1980s. She will forever hold a place in every New Orleanian’s heart.”

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