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    NYPD’s Judith Harrison blazes trail as commanding officer of counterterrorism division

    NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — An NYPD officer has made history throughout her career as a cop and now she’s taking on the task of commanding officer of the newly restructured counterterrorism division.

    Leading NYPD’s Counterterrorism division is Assistant Chief Judith Harrison’s latest assignment. In 26 years, she’s moved up steadily into more demanding roles, sometimes as the first woman in them.

    “I remember when I was a police officer in the 102 Precinct,” she said. “I saw one female supervisor for the whole time I was there. One female. Now there are so many.”

    Harrison’s late mother, who stood proudly at her side at every promotion, was an NYPD civilian employee.

    “She worked in the 105 Precinct during the day,” Harrison said. “And then in the evening she worked at the airport.”

    During those night shifts, her mom’s officer colleagues would check up on Harrison and her little brother.

    “They didn’t come every day, but they came often enough to have a very profound impact on me,” Harrison said. “They would activate the lights, hit the sirens. My brother and I we’d run to the door, give them a thumbs up, let them know we were ok. And I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

    As more women join the department and rise into positions of leadership, Chief Harrison says the more they support and mentor each other. She says Commissioner Keechant Sewell may not realize it, but she’s been a mentor.

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    “On her first day a cop was shot, and I got to see her on TV, at a press conference, very impressed with how she spoke,” Harrison said.

    Harrison’s career began when her now 30-year-old twins were only four. In 2020 she became the first woman to become Brooklyn North Borough commander.

    One of the more enjoyable ways she would work on building police community relations was by using the skills that got her a college basketball scholarship to connect with kids.

    “I do have a little bit of a jump shot, and it goes a long way when you show up on the basketball court and you hit a jump shot and they’re like ohhh… and it’s a door opener,” Harrison said.

    She credits other women before her in the department who opened doors, like late Gertrude Schimmel.

    “She fought for women to take civil service promotional exams,” Harrison said. “So I’m hitting here as an assistant chief, because she fought.”

    Now she’s making history alongside the department’s the first female commissioner.

    “This is the time. This is the year of the woman. This is a great time,” Harrison said.


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