SAN ANGELO, Texas – Porsche Potts grew up on the south side of Chicago, Illinois. She remembers police officers frequently coming to her neighborhood but said she always felt safe and protected by them.
“So when I was about 15 or 16 I got the desire to be in law enforcement. I’m not really sure where it came from but I knew I was drawn to that career,” Potts said.
She recalls striking up conversations with her high school’s resource officers and asking them questions like ‘what is it like to be a in law enforcement?’
Potts joined the San Angelo Police Department in 2017.
“Prior to accepting the job with SAPD I was totally unaware that I was the first African-American woman to be on the patrol division. I had no clue. I didn’t allow that to deter me or stop me from staying with the department. I don’t operate from a place of fear. I knew I could still be great even though I didn’t see a lot of people like myself. This department has never made me feel uncomfortable. No body at the department made me feel uncomfortable at all so I appreciated that I could work in an environment that allowed me to be free,” Potts said.
Potts said that there are several African-American men who work at the department and she appreciated advice they shared with her.
“There may not be many African-American people working at SAPD right now but I’ll tell you this, the door is open,” Potts said.
When it came to Potts making history at the department, she reflected on the time she realized there “weren’t many people like her” but said soon found out that didn’t matter to her soon-to-be brothers and sisters in blue.
“Knowing that I made history…was interesting. When I came down to do my civil learning test that’s when I noticed that there wasn’t anyone like me in line but when we did our agility test, there was so much support from other women watching us take our test. I remember, ‘keep going 57,’ because I had on 57…’keep going.’ I remember that vividly. I was like, wow, they’re not focused on my skin color they’re focused on me as an applicant and they really want me to do well. That was another thing that made me just feel welcome,” Potts said.
Potts said she was thrilled when she got accepted to SAPD and even turned down an offer from the department in her hometown, Chicago PD, to finish her stint in the San Angelo Police Academy.
Once she began patrolling the streets, Potts soon found out that not all calls are quite the same in West Texas.
“So when I actually got accepted to be San Angelo’s finest. I was excited, I didn’t expect to go through the cultural shift …as I like to call it…instead of shock. Getting called to take care of rodeo cows, pigs in the roadway, but also hunting down aggravated assault suspects or homicide suspects so it was very different for me to have that variation of calls,” Potts said.
She said no matter what her duties were that day, she wanted to leave a positive impression on people and be a role model.
“I wanted to be involved in my community and being in law enforcement I get to do that and when I was on patrol I was very involved in the community and being a detective I’m in the office more but I’m able to go out and put those puzzle pieces together. It’s been fun, it’s been amazing, I work with a great team I love SAPD,” Potts said.
Potts’ message to others, is one of encouragement. She says she remembers times when she would lay awake at night asking “God, am I really doing what you called me to do?” and would struggle with what she calls “experiences” rather than “failures.” However, she says she would continue to fight to achieve her dreams and goals.
“What I really want people to take from that is that you are unique. I just want to let other women know, you go girl. Do your thing. Don’t let anyone turn you away from that. Know that you bring something unique to any situation you’re in regardless of whether someone looks like you or not because we really are all different anyway. So just to place yourself in a situation just because of color isn’t always wise. So walk in your uniqueness,” Potts said.