Melissa McFadden was born and raised by her mom in the coal country of southern West Virginia, with a strong sense of justice. She always wanted to be an officer. She entered the US Air Force right out of high school to gain the training she thought would give her a shot at realizing her dream. Even as a trained military special police officer, the Black girl from the hillbilly state had to fight her way into the Columbus Police Academy in 1996.
She immediately saw discrimination and bigotry she had never experienced before. She didn’t know it wasn’t her job to fix it. But with her belief in God, her military training, and her love of learning she set out to right decades of wrongs perpetrated by Columbus police against the Black community, which as she quickly found out, included Black officers.
This memoir is the story of her journey through the bureaucracy, the trauma, and the endless confrontation with racism within the Columbus Division of Police. The culture is very practiced at retaliation against anyone who dares to tell this story. Melissa has endured that retaliation for twenty-four years. She is still standing. And now she is ready to share her truth so that other little Black girls everywhere can grow up in a safe world--and follow Melissa into policing if they dream, like she did, of helping to keep it safe.
In the field
Clergy members support Columbus police officers experiencing discriminatory retaliation. Learn more about Melissa’s effort to bring this culture to light in Chapter 13.
Melissa tells the story in Chapter 14 of trying to keep protesters safe at the George Floyd protests in Columbus.
Melissa was delighted to advocate for police reforms during the George Floyd protests in Columbus.