Trimika McGee made history at an early age. So early in fact that the magnitude of what she accomplished didn’t really hit her until nearly three decades later.
McGee in 1992 became the first Black female officer at the Dunn Police Department, blazing a trail many would follow in the years since, not only locally but across the country.
At the time, McGee simply set her sights on something and went after it. Making history or inspiring others never truly motivated her as a young 23-year-old thinking about going into law enforcement.
“I like to help people,” McGee said. “I decided to do it and I did it. I was just trying to learn my way.”
McGee, 51, served the DPD for two years before embarking on the rest of her life journey. She now works as a substance abuse clinician, modeling and acting on the side, and still enjoys chasing after dreams she sets her mind to.
“I couldn’t imagine all those years ago doing the things that I’m doing now,” said McGee. “You’re never too old, you’re never too young if you put your mind to it.”
McGee’s time serving in Dunn slowly faded to memory and she carried those experiences with her, often reflecting back on lessons learned from such a unique perspective. It wasn’t until recently that McGee let the importance of her decision all those years ago sink in.
“It’s amazing,” McGee said. “I never looked at it to be such a major event. I knew I made history but up until this past year, when I reposted the article, I never really looked at it the way I should’ve been looking at it a long time ago. It’s an honor and I was really blessed to have that opportunity.”
Following a year of widespread social unrest largely directed at law enforcement, McGee said seeing the state of the country today is unfortunate and people need to find a way to treat others respectfully.
“As a young Black female, I saw a lot of different things in regards to race,” said McGee. “It taught me a lot. Things have changed a lot over the years and it allowed me to see how people treat you based on your skin color and your sex. Here we are in 2021, and you look how people are still treating each other, and it’s heartbreaking. We should be loving each other regardless, black, white, purple, regardless. It’s like history is repeating itself instead of getting better than what it was. People need to change their heart. You’re not loving your brother and sister the way you should.”
Even though she left her law enforcement career in the past, McGee noticed a shift over the decades as more women entered the field. She admitted that being a police officer in her hometown offered its own set of challenges, but the chance to serve proved invaluable.
“It’s not like it was back then,” McGee said. “There are a lot of female police officers and a lot of females who work in law enforcement compared to when I was a police officer. It has changed tremendously. The blessing was that I was the first female Black police officer. That brought about showing individuals that they can do anything they put their mind to. It was hard being a police officer in a city I was born in. That was the hardest part about it.”
McGee’s new career kept her close to service. Much like her time on the police force, McGee sees all too often how color blind certain things are, like substance abuse.
“It doesn’t discriminate,” said McGee. “No one that I work with told me that they woke up one day and wanted to be an addict. Addiction can happen to anybody. It’s only by the grace of God that I’m not an addict. I didn’t live a perfect life. Everybody has done something they shouldn’t have done. We don’t know how they got there or what brought them to that place.”
There are times when history presents itself in obvious fashion. Other times, the moment comes later. McGee experienced her history 29 years ago, but it wasn’t until recently that she cherished the moment.
Eliot Duke can be reached at email@example.com or at 910-230-2038.