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Credit: WIVB

It's beautiful (but sad at the same time). The first Black police lieutenant has been sworn into the Niagara Falls Police Department. He is the first in the Department's 129-year history, which is why I say it's sad. Joel Smith grew up in the Riverside area of the Falls. Smith told WIVB,

“The environment I grew up in, high drug volume lots of fights, assaults, high crime area. And I always wanted to do something to help take that away.”

That was his inspiration for joining law enforcement. He started his career as a school resource officer. Community policing helped him get his start. You can check out the full feature on Channel 4's website.

Stories like Smith's highlight the accomplishments of Black folks, but also highlight the inequities in America. He is the first lieutenant in 129 years. That is ridiculous! Do you mean to tell me that no African-American has been qualified for that rank in 129 years? Respectfully, GTHOH. When we have "firsts" like this in 2021, it just reminds me of how African-Americans have been treated as "less than" in this country. I say this without taking anything away from Smith. While I don't know him personally, I am happy that he has helped the Department reach this milestone. I am happy that there is finally an African-American in the higher ranks of the Niagara Falls Police Department. It also reminds me how much more work we have to do. Even though we have made strides, we clearly have so much more work to do!

Congratulations to Smith and his family.

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