New Commander of Reading-Based Troop L Introduces Herself to Public
by Michael Yoder - Reading Eagle
March 18, 2016 - Reading, PA State police Capt. Kristal Turner-Childs took the helm of what she describes as her "dream job" in February, serving as commanding officer of Reading-based Troop L.
Now the 19-year veteran of the state police said her next goal is to connect to the community members of Reading and Berks County, building bridges between the public and law enforcement.
One of her first steps was a town hall meeting Thursday night sponsored by the Reading Branch of the NAACP at God's Worship & Praise Temple of Spirit & Truth Ministries.
Wearing a simple black dress, silver jewelry and a wristwatch, Turner-Childs said she specifically didn't wear her uniform to the meeting.
She wanted to surprise people, showing the community members in attendance that an African-American woman is commanding the local station."
I wanted you all to see me for who I am, and this is it - this is who I am," Turner-Childs said.
The hourlong meeting featured an introduction to Turner-Childs, along with a question and answer period that also included Trooper David C. Beohm, public information officer with Troop L, and City Councilwoman Donna Reed, who was representing Crime Alert Berks County.
A member of the audience of about a dozen asked Turner-Childs about the current cheating scandal unfolding at the State Police Academy. She said she's disheartened, pointing to the public trust in law enforcement that's necessary to keep a healthy and safe relationship.
She recited the state police Call of Honor oath by heart, emphasizing the line, "I must serve honestly, faithfully, and if need be, lay down my life as others have done before me, rather than swerve from the path of duty."
Turner-Childs said police departments across the country are in desperate need of people who want to serve as honorable officers, and she is making a point to invite the community to the station, creating an environment where people can engage with officers and possibly become interested in law enforcement."
When we go to visit people's homes, sometimes it's not a positive type of encounter, and people remember that," Turner-Childs said. "But what we want you to remember is we're just doing our job."