Norfolk Police Promotes the First African-American Female Captain
in the Departments 222 Year History
Captain Naughton began her career with the Norfolk Police Department in 2000 as a police recruit, and graduated with Recruit Academy Class 67 in 2002. Her career assignments include the Patrol Division, Detective Division, Training Division, and Vice-Narcotics Division. Captain Naughton currently serves as the Commanding Officer of Public Relations Information Marketing and Engagement - P R I M E. Captain Naughton earned both her Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration-Management (2013), and Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice (2018), from St. Leo University. Naughton is also a graduate of the Professional Executive Leadership School (PELS) Session 41, and has received several community awards for her excellence in leadership and community outreach. Captain Naughton is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE)
Captain Michele Naughton – The Back Story
Captain Michele Naughton’s path to law enforcement may seem unorthodox to many, however her ascension through the ranks of the Norfolk Police Department is nothing short of hard work, incredible perseverance, and listening to the sage advice of one’s own mother.
Captain Naughton considers herself a military brat, as her father was enlisted in the United States Army, and her mother and siblings travelled with him to several duty stations across the country and Europe, before she turned 18. In 2000, Naughton made two life changing decisions.
The single mother of 3 moved from New York to Norfolk, Virginia, and applied to the Norfolk Police Department within months of her arrival. Naughton’s mother, a Norfolk native, persistently advised her daughter to consider applying to the police department. Disappointed by the 2 jobs she left back in New York, Naughton finally responded to her mother’s advice and applied to the Norfolk Police Department.
Naughton advanced through each rigorous pre-employment background investigation, physical agility test, and mental evaluation, however she still needed to support her family, and worked an unfulfilling retail job, while praying that she would be accepted at the Norfolk Police Academy. Less than a month, after taking the retail position, Naughton learned she would embark upon a new career: she had been accepted into the Norfolk Police Academy. Naughton understood that the education and training would challenge her physically and mentally, however an unexpected knee injury during defensive tactics training and subsequent knee surgery, would temporarily take her away from the academy. After a brief recovery and physical therapy, a more determined Naughton returned to a new academy class in 2002. Her vision of a robust career and opportunities that would benefit her young family, became crystal clear, and drove her to complete Academy Class 67.
As a rookie patrol officer, Naughton began to authentically embedded herself into any community she served, and drew from her own early life experiences to empathize with citizens who often felt disenfranchised or unheard…serving at one time as Community Resource Officer, in the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority communities. At one time, Naughton lived in government housing during her childhood, and as single mother.
The former military brat was a skilled communicator in any environment, and began to emerge as a leader when she was named Officer of the Year in 2003. This was a bittersweet career moment, as Naughton was still mourning the loss of her dear friend and fellow academy classmate, Officer Sheila Herring, who lost her life in the line duty earlier that year. The loss was devastating, and Naughton realized this was the first time she had experienced the death of a close friend. Two years later in 2005, there would be more bittersweet news for Naughton and her family: She was pregnant, and diagnosed with cancer. Never one to retreat when challenged, the now veteran officer waged war on the disease, beat it, and has been in remission since 2006.
Just as her mother had encouraged her to apply to the police department, her patrol partner urged her to test for the rank of Sergeant. She tested, and ranked first on the Sergeant’s eligibility list, and thus promoted in 2011. With more advanced training under her belt, and a solid reputation for authentic engagement with citizens, it was now time to test for the rank of Lieutenant. Again, Naughton tested well, and placed number one on the eligibility list for Lieutenant’s. As soon as she was promoted to Lieutenant in 2015, she was immediately assigned to Norfolk’s most challenging area for crime. Community stakeholders praise her command leadership, and ability to swiftly address neighborhood issues with an action plan and resources.
With each promotion and greater responsibilities, the cancer survivor, single mother, and now grandmother since 2018, has increased her level of commitment to community engagement, recognizing that the heightened level of outreach will positively affect civic relationships, now and for the next generation. Captain Naughton, serves weekly as a literacy tutor with the PLUS initiative, co-host’s the bi-weekly radio talk show – “WE Are ONE - NPD and YOU, in addition to the Cops & Curls, Five-0 & Fades, and Building Relations Before Graduation initiatives.
Statement/Quotes from the Norfolk Police Department – Police Chief Larry D. Boone
1. “The historical impact of the promotion of Captain Naughton is incredible! Not only is she an inspiration to young women, she is also an outstanding model for leadership. Having overcome personal, professional and health challenges during her career, Captain Naughton’s background authentically resonates with citizens, as she is an example of endurance and fortitude for anyone facing difficulties in their life. I expect that her career legacy as “the first,” will often lead her bio, however I am certain her legacy will impact/influence the future of recruitment for women and minorities in law enforcement by her example and mentorship.”
2. “The historical significance of Captain Naughton’s promotion as the first African-American female to earn the rank of Captain, in the 222-year history of the Norfolk Police Department, is a testament to the arduous work required to shatter the glass ceiling. Captain Naughton is a respected leader, with guardian dedication to meaningful community engagement, and a warrior like commitment to the mission of the Department. Having overcome personal, professional and health challenges during her career, Captain Naughton authentically connects with citizens in a way that continues to help law enforcement close the gaps for mutual trust. SHE is truly what we ALL have waited for!”
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