Women of Influence: Georgia Ann Hill Robinson & Demetra Butler
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Remember this name - "Georgia Ann Hill Robinson". You probably never heard it before, but this woman helped changed the face of law enforcement. She was the first black policewoman in America. It was the furthest thing from her mind too. She was already very active with many community organizations throughout Los Angeles when a police department recruiter spotted her - saw something in her- and offered her a job. On July 25, 1916, Georgia became the first black policewoman in LAPD history. Her spirit still lives today generations later in people like Savannah Chatham Metro Police Department's Chief of Staff Demetra Butler- a woman of influence.
When most college graduates are lucky to get an entry level position, Demetra landed a prestigious job- starting her career by entering the history books as the first female associate judge in Beaufort County. "I didn't know enough to be scared I would say. I didn't know enough about how much responsibility it was. I always wanted a challenge if you told me that I couldn't do it I wanted to do it," said Demetra Butler.
She did it so well that within 6 months, the 22 year old was promoted to chief judge. Wanting to see all sides of the justice system, Demetra later became a parole officer and then a correctional officer in Chatham County. "That position was probably the most enlightening awakening because I had sat on the bench, had worked in the career with parole ,and now I was working with people who actually incarcerated. I got to see the entire spectrum of the day in the life of an individual who had taken the wrong course," added Demetra.
Demetra also helped create the highly successful Savannah Impact- a transitional program for probationers and parolees. She then became the Chief of Staff for the Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police Department where she works alongside Chief Willie Lovett. "Often times he is pulled in every direction with that being said he has to have someone who can depend on I am that person in addition to wanting to help I also know how to move forward because if he succeeds we all succeed."
That kind of teamwork makes her think about how life must have been long before women wore the badge. She's inspired by Georgia Ann Hill Robinson's life. "She was one of those individuals who she had a command performance about her. She was no-nonsense and she did what she said and meant what she said."
Left permanently blind after breaking up a fight between two women prisoners in 1928, Robinson said, "I have no regrets. I didn't need my eyes any longer. I had seen all there was to see."
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