Officer Tiffaney Bratton made history last month when she was put in charge of the South Boston Police Department’s Investigations Division, becoming the department’s first-ever female lieutenant.
When asked how her new position fits into her career goals, Bratton said she has always strived to reach the top.
“I never started out saying ‘yeah I want to be a lieutenant,’” Bratton said. “I just thought that I could do a good job in a supervisory role because I think I’m a team player.”
Though she has long strived to improve as an officer, Bratton said working in law enforcement wasn’t always in her plans. Right after she graduated college, Bratton said she was hired to work as a technical writer in North Carolina. Unable to find a job in the same field when she moved back to Halifax County, Bratton said she saw a need in her community.
“I always saw police, but I never saw any female officers. And I thought to myself that we need some more female officers,” Bratton said. “It also helped that my neighbor at the time was the sheriff.”
Thus, Bratton was hired as a Sheriff’s Deputy. She started as a courtroom security officer before going to road school and joining the South Boston Police Department as a patrol officer in 2006. She worked her way up to Corporal in 2010, and then Sergeant in 2015. She then moved on from the patrol division and began working as a criminal investigator in 2019.
During that time, Bratton has trained in criminal investigations, criminal drug interdiction, advanced investigations related to crime scene photography, stalking and domestic violence, and leadership and supervisory skills through the Public Agency Training Council, on top of years of on-the-ground experience.
Bratton said she has always tried to educate herself and her fellow officers. In her new role, she said she plans to educate investigators and patrol officers alike. One area she wants to focus on is computer-related crimes. Bratton said she wants to make sure the department stays at least one step ahead of criminals.
“The only way to do that is to be more educated,” Bratton said.
Before Bratton was promoted, the department had two types of investigators—drug and gang investigators, and general investigators.
South Boston Police Chief Bryan Young, who started with the department earlier this year, said he spoke with every department employee about what could be done to improve the department after he was hired. It soon became clear that the department’s investigators had a heavy workload, and more communication was needed between patrol officers and investigators.
To streamline the department’s operations, it was decided the two types of investigations would be housed under one department, and the head of that department would communicate regularly with the lieutenants responsible for patrol and administration.
Young said Bratton’s years of experience as a patrol officer and in investigations, along with her knowledge of the community, made her a natural fit at the head of the department’s new, consolidated investigations division.
“She’s highly thought of in the community, highly thought of by our staff, extremely credible, extremely professional, extremely competent… it was pretty clear who the new lieutenant was going to be,” Young said.
For her part, Bratton said her promotion has given her extra motivation to help the department, and that she is grateful for the recognition she has received. But, she also wants to give credit where it is due.
“I am the first female lieutenant at the South Boston Police Department, but I am not the first female lieutenant in Halifax County,” Bratton said, explaining that another lieutenant who worked for the Sheriff’s Office and is now retired, came before her. “I had the pleasure of working with her. Her name was Lieutenant Tracy Clark. And she never got the recognition. So even though I appreciate all of this, really, it should have went to Lieutenant Tracy Clark.”
Bratton said she would encourage any interested females to consider joining law enforcement.
“Always remember that you’re not just a female officer, you’re an officer,” Bratton said. “I bet that you won’t just be a lieutenant, you’ll be a chief, or a sheriff.”
It’s a goal that Bratton is still working towards.
“It still is my ultimate goal, to be the chief,” Bratton said. “And I think it should be every police officer’s end goal, to be at the top.”