Inspiration for their aspirations
Three top local African-American law officers tell SPC students about what their jobs are like.
By JOSE CARDENAS
Published February 13, 2007
CLEARWATER - The panel of three high-ranking law enforcement officials - one city, one state and one federal - dished out valuable career information to St. Petersburg College students Monday.
But the FBI special-agent-in charge, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement special agent and the Clearwater police captain were inspirational in one other way, too.
Carl Whitehead, Jacquelyn Hodges Bradway and Anthony Holloway are accomplished black law enforcement officials.
The idea was to highlight contemporary African-Americans as role models, said Denotra Showers, who leads the Clearwater campus student-support services program.
"We have looked at individuals in the past who have paved the way," Showers said about previous events marking Black History Month. "What we would like to do is look at individuals who are (current) leaders."
"I was first surprised that the FBI was headed by an African-American," student Nikia Smith, 22, said of Whitehead, who heads the bureau's Tampa office. "It was more inspirational to me personally than informative."
Whitehead, 50, has led the FBI Tampa office for four years.
Bradway, also 50 and based in Lakeland in Polk County, became a special agent for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in 1980.
Holloway, 44, worked his way through the Clearwater Police Department to become a captain. He is in charge of the patrol division.
The three mixed practical career advice to students with insight into gangs, terrorism and other challenges facing law enforcement agencies.
The FBI once concentrated on investigating domestic federal crimes, Whitehead said. But since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the agency's first priority is preventing terrorism.
"On that day, it all changed," Whitehead said.
"What is the FBI's progress in other countries?" asked Efe Ovwielefuona, 24, who is studying international business.
"We actually have over 180 agents in Pakistan and Afghanistan," Whitehead said.
The moderator of the session was Terry Byrd, 58, program director of career development at the St. Petersburg College Allstate campus, which houses law enforcement programs.
Before he retired from the Clearwater Police Department as a lieutenant in 1991, Byrd challenged other African-American officers to reach for promotions.
"He's not just gotten one promotion," he said of Holloway. "He's gotten three promotions."
Holloway used the opportunity to tell the students what it took to become a captain.
When he asked for a promotion, he said Clearwater police Chief Sid Klein told him: "You're going to have to go back and get your four-year degree and build up your leadership skills."
Not all the students got a chance to ask questions during the session.
Zwadie Castro, a black student whose family is from Honduras, said after the event that he was curious to know the black leaders' views on one topic.
"I had a question about the 3-million African-American brothers who are in prison," said Castro, 32, who is studying mass communications.
"It would have been interesting to find out what they can do to give back to the community."