WEST PARK — It’s a perfect fit. As Black History Month draws to a close, the Broward Sheriff’s Office has named its first African-American female police chief.
Nichole Anderson, serving as interim chief since Nov. 20, 2010, was officially hired on Jan. 12 and sworn in on Wednesday in a ceremony at Mary Saunders Park in West Park.
Anderson, who took charge of the cities of West Park and Pembroke Park in South Broward, is fulfilling a dream that started after watching a television movie about Johnnie Mae Gibson, who became the first African-American FBI female agent in 1976.
“I remember watching that when I was in middle school and I was so intrigued by it. It was my first time seeing a black female in that light,” Anderson said in an interview Tuesday. Community-minded and with a “heart for the youth,” one of Anderson’s first goals is to improve community relations.
“I’m a very community-oriented individual. What I want is to bring the community together so we can work together. We have to get back to the place where we take care of each other,” she said.
The Fort Lauderdale native is the second of three daughters in a household where the importance of education was stressed. A self-proclaimed nerd, she graduated from Dillard High School in the top 10 percent of her class.
“My parents were very engaged in our education. My mom wouldn’t let us bring home anything under a ‘B,’” Anderson said. “I had the fear of God in me and the fear of mom.”
She earned an academic scholarship to attend Fisk University in Tennessee but, after her freshman year, she decided to return to Fort Lauderdale and complete her studies at Nova Southeastern University. There, she majored in legal studies. “I just knew I was going to be in law enforcement,” she said.
Anderson earned a bachelor’s in Legal Studies in May 1993 and in May 2006 she received a master’s degree in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix. She also passed the initial entrance exam for the FBI but her love of South Florida wouldn’t let her leave.
“I was preparing to continue with the entrance process, but when I called and asked what the chances were of me being assigned to South Florida, [the agent] said I would probably be well into my career by the time that happened. I decided right there not to do it,” she said.
Instead, she began a career in law enforcement with the Florida Department of Corrections as a probation officer in May 1994. By October 1994, she was working with the Florida Highway Patrol and, in September 1996, she joined the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
In the BSO, Anderson served as a road patrol officer in Lauderdale Lakes, was promoted to sergeant in 2001 and then worked for the Tamarac district. By 2004, she was promoted to lieutenant and was serving as the executive officer in Lauderdale Lakes when she was assigned as interim chief for West Park and Pembroke Park. As chief, she oversees 45 deputies, including six sergeants.
“It’s a pleasure coming to work every day because they have made the transition very easy for me,” she said.”We’re a family.”
Anderson has been married to fellow BSO oficer Fred Anderson for five years and they have a 2-year-old son, Fred Jr.
Margarita Sweeting can be reached at email@example.com