Troy is stuck in Atlanta! Have no fear, Thomasine is here! Thomasine interviews Philadelphia’s first elected African-American woman sheriff, Rochelle Bilal.
Sheriff Rochelle Bilal was sworn in to a four-year term to lead the Office of the Sheriff for the City and County of Philadelphia on Jan. 6, 2020. She is the first elected African American woman sheriff, in the 181-year history of the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office. In fact, Sheriff Bilal is the department’s first-ever elected woman.
Bilal, a 27-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, formerly served as secretary of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP. She is president of the Guardian Civic League, a law enforcement community oversight organization, made up of over 2,500 active and retired Philadelphia police officers.
As a Philadelphia police officer, Sheriff Bilal served in units that focused on sex crimes and drug trafficking, including work in HIDTA (high intense drug and traffic area), a joint task force with the FBI and DEA.
She also spent time in patrol, and taught recruits at the Philadelphia Police Training Center, where she launched the Steer Straight initiative. Steer Straight, which is still in existence today, helps new police recruits to identify and avoid situations that may pose potential risks to their future careers in law enforcement. Bilal retired from Philadelphia Police Department in 2013.
Sheriff Bilal’s experience also includes time spent as the director of public safety in Colwyn Borough, where she managed the police and fire departments while developing a community outreach program for the Colwyn Police Department.
Sheriff Bilal is an advocate of criminal justice reform and encourages community engagement and outreach with her office. As sheriff, she will implement policies and procedures to improve the efficiency and engagement of the more than 400 employees of the department. The Sheriff’s Office has a $26 million budget and oversees court security, prisoner transportation to and from court, as well as managing sheriff’s sales, court-ordered sales of foreclosed and tax-delinquent properties.
Sheriff Bilal is a lifelong resident of Philadelphia.