The Baltimore County Police Department, along with family and friends, is mourning the loss of the first African-American female officer employed with this agency.
Karen Evetta Anderson (Shelton) joined the department on April 14, 1975. She graduated from the police academy as a member of the 49th Recruit Class and was assigned to the Central Traffic Unit in August that year. She transferred to an Investigative Unit in January, 1976, then to the Towson Precinct a year later. In 1979 She transferred to the Employment Unit, and a year later, in December, 1980, she finally settled into a position as an instructor at the Baltimore County Police Training Academy.
Officer Anderson, as she was known then, made a big impact on the recruits she trained during the four years she served as an instructor at the academy. Many of them are fondly remembering their time under her guidance on social media. One officer recounted,
"She did a great job breaking in and teaching the rookies at the academy. She was chosen to be the first for a reason and she showed the County they made a good choice."
Another officer recalled a lesson she gave to the 51st recruit class about not being bashful when searching a female prisoner:
"When the poor guy assigned to search her was done she pulled weapons off herself from everywhere..."
Retired Colonel Dennis Robinson was also an instructor during Officer Anderson's time at the academy. He reflected on her commitment to her responsibilities as an instructor, actively engaged in both classroom instruction and scenario training, saying she loved to motivate the police recruits. Colonel Robinson further commented,
"Karen was a pleasure to work with during our shared time together as academy instructors."
There is a consensus across the department among those who had the pleasure of working with Karen that she was an outstanding human being and an outstanding police officer; well respected during a time when a member of a minority class faced so many challenges. Karen transferred to Employment in 1985, and in 1986 she helped found the Blue Guardians, an organization within the Baltimore County Police Department that offers representation to minority officers. Sergeant Anthony Russell, President of the Blue Guardians, worked with Karen during her time with the department:
"She was a visionary as a founding member of the Blue Guardians. She knew there were issues minorities were facing and would face in the future and she addressed them fearlessly, not just for African-Americans but for women, too."
Karen retired from the department in 1993 after transferring back to the Towson Precinct in 1992.
Baltimore County Police extends our gratitude to Karen Shelton and her family for the sacrifices she made to the citizens of Baltimore County and the lasting impression and immeasurable impact she made on the community and coworkers alike.