MIAMI – Everyone in the Miami-Dade County Commission chamber rose to their feet Tuesday as the assistant director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, Stephanie Daniels, made her way to the podium.
Daniels, who grew up with six siblings in Liberty City, started as an officer in 1992 and rose through the ranks over the years.
She was honored Tuesday as both the first woman and the first black woman to reach the rank of assistant director.
When asked why she joined the police department, she said, "Because I love this community."
The job has only become more difficult. Police and community relations, specifically with the black community, are tense.
Deadly police-involved shootings have only fueled frustrations and sparked demonstrations and retaliations, like the deadly attacks on officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
"It hurts on both sides," Daniels said.
Daniels said that part of her job is bridging those gaps between law enforcement and the community.
"I can speak to the black community and give them perspective from the police side and letting them exactly know how we are, and that their perception of the police is not always accurate," Daniels said. "The same way I can be on the police side and speak to them, and letting them know that the perceptions they have to any community, black or Hispanic -- that its's not always the same."
Daniels' three sons are following in the family footsteps. Two are Miami-Dade corrections officers and one is a lawyer. All three sons and Daniels' husband, who is a corrections officer, were by her side Tuesday, as the day was officially declared Assistant Director Stephanie Daniels Day in Miami-Dade County.
Daniels became emotional as she addressed the crowd.
"If we do as much as we do to make this world better, it will be better," she said.
Daniels was officially promoted in March. Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said he could think of no one more tenacious, respected and with more integrity to fill the role.