Celebrating Black History: 1st black Sumter Chief of Police

SUMTER (WACH) -- Patty Jaye Garrett Patterson patrols the streets of Sumter whenever she TMs not handling day-to day operations at the Sumter Police Department.

But she TMll be the first to tell you, that being the boss wasn TMt what she wanted.

Did I ever think that I would be where I am today? Quite honestly, no. I had no thought of that, says Chief Patty Patterson.

The thought of being the first female and first African American chief of the Sumter Police Department. She says her journey to the top began in 1979 after working for the Magistrates office.

And I started out as a traffic court clerk, working with the officers when they brought in tickets, says Chief Patterson.

A few years later Chief Patterson became a deputy sheriff at the Sumter County Sheriffs Office.

Years later she left for the police academy in Columbia, where she taught police officers.

She was only twenty-three years old at the time.

I taught report writing and crisis intervention, practical problems. I was teaching sexual assault interviewing investigations of sexual assault cases.

Her time at the academy was cut short because her work experience got the attention of officials at SLED and then eventually she was offered a position at the Sumter Police Department as Major of Operations.

I had D.A.R.E under me. I had criminal investigations under me, narcotics was under me, says Chief Patterson. Chief Patterson was major for ten years, when her former chief announced that he would be leaving the post. The city manager appoints the chief of police and to Patterson TMs surprise she was the top pick in 2001.

I was like whoa because I didn TMt know. He didn TMt tell me. The former chief didn TMt tell me. I didn TMt know what the outcome was going to be. Some around town say this historical moment was a long time coming.

We have come a long way. Because in my earlier days in college, there were very few opportunities for woman. You could be a school teacher, a secretary or a nurse and that was it, says Collen Yates, former Sumter City Council Member.

Chief Patterson says her determination and faith has allowed her to become a history maker.

Without his guidance his guiding hand really and truly I probably wouldn TMt be where I am.

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