Sonia Y.W. Pruitt
"To educate on the history of the intersectionality of law enforcement
and the Black community.
To advocate for social justice, equity, and effective police reform to raise the quality of life for vulnerable populations."
The Black Police Experience is the creation of Sonia Y.W. Pruitt, a retired police captain from Maryland. During her 28-year tenure with the Montgomery County Police Department, Captain Pruitt became the first African American woman to attain the rank of Captain, in the 99-year history of the police department. She was also only the third to attain the rank of Lieutenant. Her final assignment before leaving the department was as Director of the Community Engagement Division, where her philosophy regarding community-police relationships was always to provide quality, even at the expense of quantity. Captain Pruitt made it her commitment to learn as much possible about the science and logistics of policing from a practical standpoint--as she rose through the ranks, she diversified her educational, training, and skill portfolio. Captain Pruitt has held a number of assignments and worked in various areas of policing, including Criminal Investigations and Missing Persons, Background Investigations, Internal Affairs, and Public Information, and Executive Administration and Command.
Captain Pruitt is alumna of Howard University, where she majored in Microbiology as a National Merit Scholar. However, after several years, her interest turned towards law enforcement, and she pursued and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland, as well as a Master of Arts degree in Forensic Psychology from Argosy University. Since her retirement from policing, she has served as an associate professor of Criminal Justice at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland.
Her experiences navigating the challenging terrain within the police department caused Captain Pruitt to focus her attention on the changing dynamics of policing and incidents such as George Floyd highlighted that clear and truthful voices in social justice and police reform were paramount, both inside and outside law enforcement agencies. She decided to take her knowledge and her voice to those that needed them the most--Black and other underserved, marginalized, and oppressed communities.
Captain Pruitt is Past Chairwoman of the National Black Police Association. Under her leadership, the organization became a beacon in the fight for justice for the Black community after its unapologetic defense of Colin Kaepernick's right to kneel, and its unwavering support of police accountability in the face of systemic racism after the murder of George Floyd. She is a member of the 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center, which advocates for Criminal Justice reform, and is a speaker with as well as on the Board of Directors of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, which also advocates for criminal justice and drug policy reform. She is also a member of the Conscious Leaders Group, an affiliate of law enforcement executives in the State of Maryland that has worked closely with the Maryland legislature on police reform recommendations. Captain Pruitt was recently appointed to the Prince George's County Police Reform Task Force (Maryland).
Known for straight talk and her no-nonsense style, Captain Pruitt has spoken on a variety of law enforcement-related issues, criminal justice, and police reform issues, both in the United States and internationally. She particularly likes to speak on matters that acknowledges the history of the intersectionality between law enforcement and the Black community, and how that history manifests today. Her main interest is law enforcement issues as they relate to the experiences of Black officers, Black women, and vulnerable communities, and she looks to offer information to spur personal education, growth, and sustained change.