After she was almost killed by a man with a badge, Katrina Brownlee decided to become a law enforcement officer. In 1993, Katrina’s boyfriend, a corrections officer, shot her 10 times, leaving her for dead. She had called the police for help on multiple occasions, but each time they responded, her boyfriend would flash his badge, and the officers would leave, never holding him accountable for his violence.
It took years for her to recover physically and emotionally from the near fatal attack, and when she did, Katrina entered the police academy. As she describes, “I wanted to be a good cop.” “After being neglected by the police for so long, I wanted to give voice to the good cops. I felt like it was my duty.” Katrina joined the New York Police Department, working assignments from narcotics, to prostitution stings, to the Community Affairs Youth Division. She retired in 2021 as a Detective First Grade, spending the last eight years of her 20-year tenure on New York City Mayor DeBlasio’s personal security detail.
During her career in law enforcement, Katrina stayed silent about the abuse she endured.
Today Katrina tells her story loudly. She has written a memoire about her life, And Then Came the Blues, that will be published in 2022. She speaks emphatically about the need for law enforcement agencies to dedicate more training and resources to counter domestic violence. Helping domestic violence victims requires law enforcement to build trust with survivors. “When you arrive on a scene, show empathy. You never know what that person is going through,” says Katrina. She also wants domestic violence survivors to know there’s hope; she is living proof they can get out and live a good life.
Katrina’s biggest passion is helping adolescent girls develop strong self-esteem and insist on respectful, healthy relationships for themselves, so they will never become victims of domestic violence. With her foundation Young Ladies of Our Future, Katrina helps young women gain confidence and knowledge through mentorship and classes on financial literacy, anti-violence, self-awareness, and a host of other topics – “All the things I wish someone had taught me,” she says.
Detective Katrina Brownlee is a true Game Changer. She embodies the power of survivors to build successful lives after trauma, demand improvements to the current system, and inspire a brighter future for the next generations.