HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — For the first time in the department’s 116-year history, Gov. Tom Wolf confirmed an African American woman has been appointed as deputy commissioner of staff for the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP).

Lieutenant Colonel Kristal Turner-Childs is described by subordinates as brilliant, bold and brave – attributes that helped her work her way up through the ranks, according to the Governor’s Office of Communications.

Turner-Childs, a Harrisburg native, enlisted in the PSP in February of 1998. As she progressed through the ranks, officials said she served as the first African American woman to command a troop when she was promoted to captain in 2015.

She served as director of the Bureau of Forensic Sciences where she became the second African American woman to obtain the rank of major in 2018. She also served in various roles at York and Harrisburg stations and with the PSP Recruitment and Special Services Office.

As the deputy commissioner of staff, officials said she will assist the commissioner in the development of policies and procedures to achieve maximum efficiency in functional responsibilities and to ensure optimal utilization of available resources.

“My mentality has always been to help and serve the department and the diverse communities of the commonwealth,” Turner-Childs said. “I am honored to be the first African-American Deputy Commissioner of Staff and hope the appointment inspires others to pursue their passions.”

It’s reported Turner-Childs became the first person in her family to earn a college degree when she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Elizabethtown College in 2005. Later, she earned her Master of Professional Studies in Organizational Leadership from Central Penn College. She is also a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command and the FBI National Academy.

Turner-Childs said she sees every day as an opportunity to help someone else.

As a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, she helped to start a line-dancing class at the Boys and Girls Club of Harrisburg. She’s also the recipient of several awards, such as the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and CREDC Athena Award, NCBW Trailblazer Award and the Greater Harrisburg YWCA Woman of Excellence Award.

“Lieutenant Colonel Turner-Childs has worked her way up through the ranks and served the state police with valor for more than 20 years,” Wolf said. “Her exemplary service and commitment to protecting the public makes her extremely qualified for this leadership role.”

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