Black History Month: Fremont police officer paves the way for future women

Sheree Wright-Cox is known as a trailblazer for the Fremont Police Department. She’s the first African American female police officer at a time when the force was predominantly white males.
It was a homecoming of sorts for Wright-Cox who was back at the Fremont Police Department where her career as a police officer began some 27 years ago.
The Oakland native had every right to be nervous. She served from 1986 to 1992. The then 28-year-old was the sole black female officer and one of four African American officers in a department of roughly 150 officers.
“I was somewhat of a novelty in that no one had ever experienced working with a young female black officer,” said Wright-Cox. “It was new for all of us.”
Wright-Cox said at times she faced sexism and racism from slow response from back-up officers to-a citizen who refused to have Wright-Cox take a police report.
“You feel like you have to work harder to show your worthiness,” said Wright-Cox. “You figure out what it is you can bring to the table and you weather the storm.”
Wright-Cox weathered the storm by not giving up offering a cultural approach and building strong relationships with the community. Among them was MC Hammer’s entourage who in his heyday had a home and a studio in Fremont.
School-based policing brought her the most joy. She launched the DARE program in 1989 during the Reagan Administration. 
“She really developed it,” said Fremont Police Chief Kim Petersen. “She just didn't do the actions. She had the idea and she created it. She was the energy and the initiative behind our DARE program.”
Recently, the city of Fremont honored Wright-Cox for her service.
“It’s important for us to have people as role models for us to look forward to and to give us a vision and understanding,” said Fremont Mayor Lily Mei. 
Her greatest legacy may have been inspiring those along the way.
“She just had that wit,” said Fremont Police Captain Fred Bobbitt. “She had that forward-thinking attitude. She could accomplish anything and that was inspirational to me.”
Fred Bobbitt was an eager police explorer when he first met Wright-Cox. He is now a captain who has been with the department for 34 years.
“I thought to myself when I became a police officer it would have been so nice for her to see that I actually reached that goal,” said Capt. Bobbitt.
Like Wright-Cox, Captain Bobbitt is now leading a program called Building Bridges, fostering relationships with police and schoolchildren.
“If I did inspire someone I will take that as a great compliment,” said Wright-Cox. “I certainly tried to represent myself and the department in the best light possible.”
After Fremont, Wright-Cox went to serve in Redmond, Washington where she worked with current Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick. Wright-Cox is moving back to the Bay Area and hopes to help Fremont Police as needed.