OCALA, Fla – Alice Faison says she can still recall the day she walked into the Ocala Police Department 52 years ago and asked if they were hiring.
That day in 1969 was historic for both Faison and the city of Ocala.
Faison got a job as a police records clerk, becoming the Ocala Police Department’s first Black female employee.
Later in the 1970s, Faison was sworn in as a police officer for the city. From there she worked car accidents, patrolled the streets and took part in crime prevention.
But there were invisible obstacles that she had to face in a profession that men historically dominated.
There were death threats made against her.
“I didn’t pay any attention them,” Faison said
Racial slurs were also said to her.
“I loved anyway. My mother raised us to be color-blind,” she said.
Faison said she remembers having to type up a letter and give it to the police chief after racial slurs were used toward her.
”He did not tolerate it,” she said.
She credits her supervisor and former Chief Kenneth Alvarez who she said, were “colorblind” to the fact she would be their first Black woman officer during racial segregation in the South.
In the last years of being with the police department, Faison served as a Community Crime Prevention Coordinator. She also received a commendation for the work she did on the force improving the relations between the community and the police, bringing them closer together.
Officer Faison now goes by Pastor Faison, dedicating her time to preaching in Ocala churches.
Faison said she made the transition to preaching in the late 80s after a drunk driver seriously injured her.
Faison began preaching for Sunday services at a church. She said the ministry is for ‘hurt women and men’ who need prayer.
Faison believes preaching was meant to be, crediting her time on the streets working as a police officer for showing her, firsthand, what was really going on in the community.
Also known as “Momma Faison.” she said members of the community were able to confide in her.
“They were able to go to me and tell me things like a ‘mom would,’ to inform me about issues within the housing projects,” Faison said. “There was a young man who was arrested by (us) for selling drugs. Years later, he came into my congregation, walked up and thanked me.”
Faison said the young man is now grown and has taken on a career as a physical therapist.
She said it is very rewarding to have served the community protecting it and now being able to use her voice to inspire others to love more and do good for others.