First Grade Detective Michele Randall-Williams broke the proverbial glass ceiling in 1989 by becoming the first woman assigned to the security team to protect former Mayor David Dinkins.
In the last several years, she has led the security detail for Public Advocate Letitia James. Both officials spoke at Randall-Williams’ “walkout ceremony” last Wednesday at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park.
“When Michele was on the case, I was never ever concerned,” said Dinkins, New York City’s first African-American mayor. “It is so important to feel secure at home.”
“She was never security, she was part of the family,” he added. “I’ll never be able to thank you for what you and your folks did for us.”
Born into a family of nine children in Brooklyn, Randall-Williams was raised on a farm in the upstate town of Davenport. Her mother died when she was a teenager, so her older siblings helped raise her.
She joined the NYPD in the early 1980s, and became the first woman on the force to accomplish many goals. Randall-Williams was the first female highway safety officer at the 13th Precinct, the first woman to complete NYPD Motorcycle Training School, and the first woman to participate in a multi-agency federal investigation sting.
She was also the first woman to protect a head of state during the United Nations General Assembly.
Her trailblazing career is recognized with a place marker on the history timeline at the NYPD Police Museum.
In 1999, Randall-Williams was appointed by former schools chancellor Rudy Crew to serve as associate director of the Department of Education (DOE)’s Division of School Safety and Prevention Services.
She has a bachelor’s degree from Oneonta State University and an executive master of public administration degree from Baruch College.
Public Advocate James said she first noticed Randall-Williams’ presence and professionalism when she served on Dinkins’ security detail.
“She appeared to be fearless to me. Fearless, brave and solid in the face of danger,” James said. “It was at that time, I said if I should ever ascend to a position of public service, I would want this warrior by my side.”
James also praised the detective as an unsung “shero” who works behind the scenes to keep New York City safe.
“She’s always tried to do right by others,’ she said. “To me and my staff, Michele is like family.”
Tira Randall, Michele’s older sister, said her family felt pride for her decades of service to the city and the accomplishments that Randall-Williams has achieved. Randall recalled the day when her sister told her she wanted to take the police officer exam.
“I knew in my heart then that you would be successful in this work,” she said. “From that day on, you took on the challenges within the department with dedication and commitment.”
Randall said their family is ready to support her sister as she moves onto the next chapter in her life.
“It’s time to rest your badge and your gun now, time to focus on Michele,” Randall said. “Time to turn this over to others who are ready to serve this city.”
Randall-Williams, who spoke last at her walkout ceremony, said her journey in the NYPD has been one of the most rewarding in her life. She thanked the dozens of family members, friends and supporters who helped her along the way.
She especially gave thanks to former Mayor Dinkins for giving her the opportunity to serve.
“He had faith in me to believe that I was going to do a good job,” she said. “He’s my biggest role model.”
“I love his family like I love my own,” Randall-Williams added. “I wanted nothing more in the world than to make sure that we kept you and your family safe.”
She called James her “sister,” a voice for the people and a fighter. Like Randall-Williams, James made history when she became the the first African-American woman to hold a citywide elected office.
Randall-Williams said she’s looking forward to supporting James’ career, including her run to be New York’s next attorney general.
But for now, the history-making detective is going to take time to enjoy her post-career life.
“I’m just happy to be here,” Randall-Williams said. “I’m going to be taking some ‘me’ time.”