MARION COUNTY, Fla. – Pastor Alice Mae Faison changed the face of the Ocala Police Department quite literally.
She became the department’s first Black female police officer at a time of discrimination and divide in this country. Yet, she handled the racism with grace, opened doors for other Black officers and to this day continues to serve the City of Ocala.
“I’m color blind,” Faison said. “I don’t care what color you are. I love you the same. Let’s make it plain: I love the white as much as the black!”
But some whites didn’t love her when she was hired on the spot by the department in 1969 as the city’s first-ever Black female officer.
“One day I was late for work and going upstairs, this officer told me, ‘You better tell your Black sisters and brothers if they throw another rock at my car’ what he was going to do,” Faison said. “Comments like that.”
When Faison was hired, segregation had just ended officially, but it still existed unofficially in Ocala, Faison said, and so did discrimination.
“I heard that some of the women said that I better not ride with their husbands,” Faison said. “It was just a whole lot, a whole lot. But you know what? It didn’t bother me at all, I laughed at it.”
Faison said the police chief was very protective of her and did not tolerate racism. So in the years to come, Faison was promoted and commended and served the City of Ocala until 1985 when she was hit by a drunk driver. Otherwise she would’ve stayed longer.
How did she change the Ocala Police Department and Marion County?
“Better communication between Black and white,” Faison said. “And more Blacks were getting jobs and it was just an open door.”
More than half a century later, Faison continues to serve. She is the founder of Sisterhood/Brotherhood Ministries. Besides worship services, the ministry does regular outreach, donating clothing, food and supplies to the community.
Her clothing closet is open every day to anyone who needs it.
“That’s my heart, that’s my passion — people, I love people,” Faison said. “I took a lot, and I try to do everybody right.”
Faison was also a chaplain with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office for 13 years after she retired from the police department.