Cleaning offices in the U.S. Steel building in Downtown Pittsburgh in 1975 to support her two small children, Maurita Bryant did not foresee a 34-year career cleaning up the streets of Pittsburgh that has led her to become the first Black female Assistant Chief of the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. Her desire to provide a better life for her daughters prompted her to apply to the police academy after reading an announcement that women would be hired for the first time.
She now has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice, and oversees the police operations branch, with six commanders and 579 officers under her charge, including the SWAT unit.
Despite the respect she showed others, Bryant faced discrimination on the job being one of the first women.
Unlike many female officers who did not last, Bryant was determined not to quit and found a role model in the first black female supervisor, Gwen Elliott.
“She cared about everyone. She would give you the shirt off her back. She was smart as a whip.” It was Elliott’s fortitude that encouraged Bryant. “No matter how much people talked about her or tried to demean her, she kept her head up. She kept going. ‘If she can do it, I can do it,’” Bryant said.
Bryant founded Pittsburgh’s chapter of NOBLE?and will serve as national president in 2012.