Updated May 16, 2022 - 5:08 pm
A little more than two decades ago, Jacqueline Gravatt made history by becoming the first Black woman to serve as a patrol officer with the North Las Vegas Police Department.
On Monday, her distinguished, 20-plus years on the force led the city to name Gravatt chief of police.
“We just want to be able to serve the community, to be out there and make a difference,” said, Gravatt, 48.
The city also promoted Capt. Michael Harris on Monday to assistant chief.
“I enjoy serving the community and my country,” Harris said. “That’s why I continue to do what I do.”
Gravatt was born and raised in St. Louis.
She joined North Las Vegas police in September 2001. She said at the time there was the perception that to do well in policing, you had to be male and you had to be physically strong. But in her law enforcement career, she said, she soon found the ability to communicate effectively with those in need is perhaps a cop’s greatest strength.
“My passion (as a patrol officer) was behavioral and mental health,” she said, adding, “To be able to talk to people, find out how and why they ended up in the situations they are in, and providing them assistance to address these issues.”
Harris, 46, was born and raised in Las Vegas. He played football at Clark High School before joining the Marines. He started his law enforcement career in the valley with the Clark County School District police, then joined North Las Vegas police in 2002.
Both Gravatt and Harris said Monday they intend to further community policing initiatives while increasing police training. Harris said it is “an exciting time to be a part of the North Las Vegas Police Department” as the city continues to experience rapid growth.
“We want to change what law enforcement looks like,” Gravatt said. “We are partners. We are citizens in our community.”
North Las Vegas City Manager Ryann Juden said Gravatt and Harris inspire those around them.
“Chief Gravatt is a tremendous leader, and we very quickly recognized her potential and capacity to innovate within our police department,” Juden said in a news release. “Chief Gravatt and Assistant Chief Harris have been key in developing and expanding community policing and citizen engagement initiatives that have helped bring North Las Vegas’ crime rate down 35 percent from a decade ago.”
Gravatt replaces former Chief Pamela Ojeda, who recently retired after 26 years with the department.
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