Skip to main content

When the members of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s 187th Academy class walked across the stage, it became one of the most gender-diverse classes in the department’s recent history. Seven women started and completed the class together, a stride forward in CMPD’s effort to be a department representative of the community.

“This is more than just a job, this is a career,” Chief Johnny Jennings told the graduates. “I challenge you to make sure we are providing good customer service to our citizens and our community.”

Their CMPD Academy training officers have no doubt the women will rise to the occasion.

“It’s important to see these women stepping up and serving their community,” says Academy Training Officer Timothy Purdy. “They have the ability to take on the task and accomplish it. They have great attitudes and will serve this community well.”

The women of the 187th Academy class didn’t just graduate, they did so with honors. Officer Becca Stanton won the Physical Fitness Award and Officer Alexa Odom was honored with the Academic Award given to the graduate with the highest average across 35 exams.

As they take to the streets to serve Charlotte, get to know the women of the 187th Academy class:

Officer Talayna Coleman

Officer Coleman’s family moved from Pittsburgh, PA, to Greensboro, NC, where she went to the University of North Carolina – Greensboro, majoring in sociology and minoring in criminology. After college, she worked in leasing but always intended to become an officer.

“I want to be a police officer because I want to be involved in the community and be part of a team where I can help out and make an impact,” she says.

With interests in domestic violence and human trafficking, Officer Coleman searched for an agency where she had opportunities to focus on areas where she can make a difference. She chose CMPD.

Officer Miranda Dougherty

Originally from Manahawkin, NJ, it was Officer Dougherty’s parents who first made the move to Charlotte. She joined them, looking for a city with real opportunity. For her first job post-college, Officer Dougherty looked at agencies across North Carolina, eventually choosing CMPD for the quality of training and pay.

“In Charlotte, there’s a connection between community and police force,” she says.

Even through difficult moments, she found the CMPD Academy instructors to be the perfect mentors, inspiring her to grow confidence and excel.

“They’re going to push you to your limits but they don’t want to see you fail,” Officer Dougherty says. “There’s so much advice and help through the process that allows you to move past your fears. You don’t realize at first how much you know but it just builds your confidence.”

Officer Sierra Fordham

A Pittsburgh, PA, native and lifelong athlete, Officer Sierra Fordham played basketball and studied criminal justice in college. After graduating in 2018, she moved to Charlotte to become a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent. It was the chance to change the profession of policing that inspired her to make a career change.

“With everything going on, I want people to know they have someone in uniform that their families are safe with,” she says.

Officer Breanna Moore

Officer Breanna Moore left Fort Ann, NY, to serve in the Air Force for four years, then continued to college. After graduation, she moved to Charlotte for the weather and because CMPD offers so many opportunities as a larger department. She wanted to serve the community.

“You work with real people and might be changing their trajectory for the day, maybe even for their life,” she says.

“Along the way, maybe you show them a different perspective on a law enforcement officer.”

Officer Moore found policing to be a smooth transition from the military, pointing to the Academy’s team atmosphere.

“We’re all a team, going through it together,” she says. “There are people willing to help you study or with PT.”

Officer Alexa Odom

Hailing from Asheville, NC, Officer Alexa Odom attended University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill majoring in peace, war and defense and minoring in Spanish.

“I made all these choices because I want to investigate human trafficking,” she says. “CMPD has a human trafficking investigative unit, which not many departments do.”

Throughout the full training process, Officer Odom says she learned so much and goes into her first days on the force feeling prepared and confident.

“CMPD says that they’re a family but it really feels like it,” she says. “I see other smaller female officers and they radiate confidence. All the things you’re able to do as a woman here – it doesn’t seem like a factor anymore. You can do it just as good if not better,” says the Academic Award recipient.

Officer Becca Stanton

Officer Becca Stanton earned a degree in homeland security, always planning to pursue law enforcement. The Concord, NC, native is glad to find an agency close to home.

“I did an internship in Charlotte and I know why so many people want to be here,” she says. “I’m from here and I don’t want to leave. I moved a lot as a kid and this is the best area. There’s so much the state has to offer with the mountains and beach, a huge airport, major universities and sports teams. It has everything.”