By Peggy Mullin
Tajuana (T.J.) Mitchell exudes energy. Her presence lights up the room, especially anywhere in her hometown of Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Everyone knows her, either personally or by extension. Born and raised in a low-income neighborhood known by most as a “projects” community, she was raised by her great-grandmother who provided her with a stable home and “a whole lot of love.” When she interacts with the diverse members of her home community, they almost seem to entirely ignore the badge adorning her uniform. As a member of the Elizabeth City Police Department, she serves as a unique bridge between community and law enforcement.
T.J’s entry into the police force was no mistake. In high school, she became pregnant twice, and spent the next few years searching for a way to support both her family and herself. “Growing up, we always had a police scanner in the house,” said T.J. “So I said, ‘Maybe I’ll try the police force.’” She went through Basic Law Enforcement Training two times and finally completed the program, eventually going on to serve as an officer with her hometown law enforcement agency.
Now, she spends most of her time with her four-year-old son Wayland, who attends a local preschool, and her husband, who teaches BLET night classes at a nearby college.