Karen Smith-Bonilla becomes First Black Woman Promoted to Sergeant in Hialeah, Florida’s Police Department

MOVING UP: Hialeah police officer Karen Smith-Bonilla made history on Aug. 17 when she became the first African-American woman in the department’s 89-year history to be promoted to sergeant. THEO KARANTSALIS / FOR THE MIAMI HERALD
MOVING UP: Hialeah police officer Karen Smith-Bonilla made history on Aug. 17 when she became the first African-American woman in the department’s 89-year history to be promoted to sergeant. THEO KARANTSALIS / FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

Hialeah police officer Karen Smith-Bonilla made history on last month when she became the first African-American woman in the department’s 89-year history to be promoted to sergeant. 

“This is not only for myself but for my coworkers,” said Smith-Bonilla. “I want them to know that all things are possible.”

Hialeah is the sixth-largest city in Florida and its police department, headed by Chief Sergio Velazquez, has 329 sworn officers. About 89 percent of these officers are men.

“We have 22 African-American officers that comprise about 6.7 percent of the department,” said Hialeah Police Lt. Carl Zogby.

Since she arrived from Kingston, Jamaica, at age 6, Smith-Bonilla’s roadmap for success has included plenty of hard work and setting serious educational goals.

“I earned an A.S. in Criminal Justice at Miami Dade College,” said Smith-Bonilla, who attended local schools including Comstock Elementary in Allapattah and Dr. Charles R. Drew Middle and Northwestern Senior High in Liberty City.

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Source: Miami Herald | THEO KARANTSALIS

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