Series Kickoff: Meet Captain Ann E. Young, first black woman captain named to LAPD

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When I was asked if I would like to speak to Capt. Ann E. Young (Capt. Young) and given her bio, I responded with a resounding yes.  Her career has included service in the Juvenile Division (Abused Child Unit), Robbery Homocide Division (Rape Special Section), and Internal Affairs. Outside of her main responsibilities, Capt. Young is very active in the community.  Just the day before she she was part of the Los Angeles FOX 11 News “Wednesday’s Child” segment, a series that features older children in foster care, after spending a day with Christopher who is an aspiring police officer.  Check out the segment below.

Wednesday’s Child: Christopher

Capt. Young was one of the first African-American female captains to be named to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), in its 131 year history, at the time she was appointed in April 2000. Who knew?  Exactly!  That’s why I’m excited to bring her story to my blog and Examiner women’s column in a series of posts.

I happened to be in Los Angeles on a visit, back in September, and arranged to meet Capt. Young in person at her office in the LAPD headquarters.  Naturally, entering such a building came with some nerves.  I don’t believe I’ve ever walked into a police department in my life (a good thing, of course).  Fortunately, LAPD headquarters is just offices which made getting in to see her much simpler than if there were any holding facilities.

After being escorted to her department (Office of the Detective Bureau and Vice Squad), I waited patiently for Capt. Ann to complete a phone conversation.  When she walked out, we greeted each other with a smile.  You may argue whether or not this detail is significant, but I was pleased to see a woman in her position wearing her hair in a nice, neat short afro.  I had a “Go ahead, girl!” moment in my mind as I shook her hand. ;-)

As she led me to her office, I looked around.  I don’t know what I expected to see, lots of hustle and bustle like you see on tv, but it was kind of quiet.  She shut the door and came over to a small conference table and sat next to me.  In that moment, I began to move past Capt. Young as strictly a woman in a high ranking position and began to see her as an entire woman.  She was shy and very soft spoken.  While Capt. Young is very active in the community, I do not think that she’s had many opportunities for someone to come and feature just her story.  I admired her sense of humility and wished I could have spoken to her all afternoon, but the time I did have with her was well spent as you’ll read in this post and upcoming posts in this series.

Just as I did, you have a lot to learn, so let me just give you an introduction to Capt. Young.

Affrodite:  Tell me about yourself.

Capt Young:  I’ve been on the department for about 28 years now.  Prior to coming on, I was a teacher.  I taught five years in Las Vegas and one year in Compton Unified School District which is kind of like a suburb of Los Angeles.  Then I came on the department.  I always wanted to be a police officer.  We grew up in New York, actually, in Brooklyn, and I guess I was interested in becoming a cop back then.

Affrodite:  So you do not come from a family history of those who served in the police force?

Capt. Young: Not a history, per se, but while living in New York I had a cousin that was a detective in the NYPD. He has since passed away, but I used to hear his stories when he would come to visit…He used to talk to my dad a lot because he was working undercover narcotics at the time back of [NYPD Detective Frank] Serpico,  probably before your time.  There was a horrendous scandal in New York…[and my uncle] was working narcotics.  He was afraid for his life, and I used to listen between the doors because they didn’t want me to hear, but I thought ‘It sounds exciting.’  Then we moved as a family out to Los Angeles, out to Compton, when I was just about to go into high school.  I finished high school in Compton and then went on to college at UC San Diego for two years, and then I went to UCLA and graduated there.  Then I got my teaching credential, and then I moved to Las Vegas and then came back home after a few years.

Affrodite:  How did you end up joining the police force if you went into teaching first?

Capt. Young:  When I was living in Compton and teaching…at Compton college…I was happy with teaching, but I thought this might be a good time to go into law enforcement.   When I had [originally] looked into it, before I went into teaching, the height requirement was 5’-9” or taller.

Affrodite:  Really?

Capt. Young:  Yes, back then.

Affrodite:  I never knew there was ever that kind of requirement.  That’s interesting.

Capt. Young:  So that eliminated a lot of people, not just women.  There’s some short men, too!  It eliminated a large section of people because everyone’s not 5’-9” or taller, but you have to know the history of LAPD.  Twenty, well maybe thirty or fourty years ago, a lot of people left the military and then joined the police department, back in the 1950s and 60s, and those were tall men, so they had that requirement, but times have changed so they…looked at it again and decided 5’-9” was not realistic.

Affrodite:  What was your first job as a police officer?

Capt. Young:  Well, my first job was trying to get out of that academy. (laughs)

Affrodite:  Were you one of only a few women in the academy?  I remember reading a statistic, not sure how current it was, but something like 19% of the LAPD is made up of women.

Capt. Young:  Well, now it’s 19% women, but it was much lower 20 years ago.

That’s the first snapshot from our interview. Much more to come. Stay tuned!

Related Links

LAPD official website- Captain Ann E. Young (BIO)

Free Online Library- LAPD promotion makes history, new police captain looks forward to work with community, kids

FOX 11 News- Wednesday’s Child: Christopher

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