FWPD captain breaks barriers

A Fort Wayne Police Officer is making history.
A Fort Wayne Police Officer is making history.

The Fort Wayne Police Department has around 450 officers. However, only about a dozen of those officers are women, and only a handful of leadership positions are held by minorities, but Capt. Deborah Joyner has risen through the ranks as both.

Joyner said police work was never a career she considered. Growing up, she always wanted to teach Special Education. However, a little more than three decades ago that changed when she and a family member had a bad experience with a police officer.

“I was going to become a police officer for approximately five years, just to show Fort Wayne there was a right and wrong way to treat people,” Joyner said.

It turned in to a 32-year decorated career. She’s risen through the ranks as a Sergeant in the Southeast Division and now is a captain of the Detective Bureau. Joyner is the only woman currently holding a leadership position in the department and the first female to be a Captain. She said being a female in the department has it’s benefits and challenges. As a woman, she can show a softer side to victims which can help in traumatic situations. However, it doesn’t mean she can be pushed over.

“If the situation calls for it, I can jump in and fight with the best,” Joyner said.

With her new position, she hopes to spur diversity efforts in the department. She said Fort Wayne is a diverse community, and the police department should reflect its surroundings.

“There was not a night that didn’t pass when I was out there as a sergeant that I didn’t need a Hispanic speaking officer or an officer from Burma,” Joyner said.

She said there needs to be a better understanding of different communities and cultures within the city, including that of the police department.

“She’s a vital link to the communication that needs to happen in our community,” Officer Ricardo Robles said.

It’s her hope that more diversity will build more trust.

“I’m really tired of seeing young people die, be shot, or crippled, so I’m hoping being up in the Detective Bureau we can get more information to stop the violence,” Joyner said.

NewsChannel 15 was told the department will be accepting applications soon for another class of recruits that was made possible by an outside grant. Joyner is hoping more minorities and more women will apply.

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