Amal E. Awad, Ed '11, '12 (MS), became the first Black, female, and openly LGBTQ person to serve as chief of the Hyattsville Police Department in 2018, her 27th year in law enforcement. In this moment, with the spotlight on lethal force by police and the rise of Black Lives Matter, she also wants to "help demonstrate who we are as a collective," she says.
She hears the cry to "defund the police" as a call for "reallocating funding to community-based programming." To that end, she has hired a mental health programs manager and is working to evaluate the effectiveness of mental health crisis models pairing officers or EMTs with clinicians.
When Awad swears in officers, pinning a badge over their heart, she tells them "their oath is their promise to our community to serve and treat all with whom we engage with the dignity and respect they deserve." They aren't just words, she says. "We live it. We do it. I demonstrate it."
In 2020, the Alumni Association honored Awad with a Community Champion Award.
Editor's note: Awad was named chief of the Anne Arundel County Police Department shortly after this issue went to press. In a statement to WBAL-TV, Awad said, "I'm deeply humbled yet very excited at the opportunity to continue the work ahead within our respective communities and this noble profession."