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Wayne Green, 55, pins the insignia of an eagle on his uniform, which identifies him as Mt. Sterling police chief. The morning ritual serves as a time for Wayne to center himself and be reminded of the community he is sworn to protect and serve.

Wayne Green, 55, pins the insignia of an eagle on his uniform, which identifies him as Mt. Sterling police chief. The morning ritual serves as a time for Wayne to center himself and be reminded of the community he is sworn to protect and serve.

 

Wayne Green had been a Mt. Sterling police officer for 21 years when he was named acting police chief and made history. He is the first African-American to hold the position since the town was established in 1792.

The significance of being Mt. Sterling's first black police chief is not lost on Wayne. He is aware of the history he has made simply by existing and strongly believes in the importance and power of representation.

"Don't let people say 'Well, your color's going to stop you.' It's not, if you don't want it to," he says – an earnest hope he has for all people of color, especially the young.

While Wayne considers the position of acting chief to be an honor and a dream job, he also says he would be remiss not to acknowledge how being both black and a police officer can often feel like a losing game, and being a minority on the force can be a lonely experience. Only six percent of Mt. Sterling's population is black.

Wayne recounts several instances from his career in law enforcement when he felt as if he were living a "dual-identity." In one instance, a local business owner whom Wayne had assisted while on duty just days earlier in dealing with a shoplifter, failed to recognize him out of uniform in their store and expressed suspicion that Wayne himself was shoplifting.

Another night while Wayne was on patrol, he made two completely separate arrests for drunk and disorderly conduct, the first being a white man and the second a black man. After being booked, the first man told the jailer, "I don't mind going to jail. I just didn't like the idea of that n***** arresting me," Wayne says. Just an hour or so later, the second man said, "I didn't care about going to jail. I just didn't like the fact that that sellout, that that Uncle Tom arrested me," Wayne recalls.

"Too black for the badge, too blue for the brothers," Wayne says about the two incidents.

It's Wayne's family who keep him grounded so he can best serve the city.

"What I love about Mt. Sterling and Montgomery Country is that it's a family-type community," Wayne says. Although there have been times when Wayne's race feels like a barrier, those instances are few and far between. "I have been respected. I have been treated like everybody else. People like each other here. I know people like me here."

With Mt. Sterling's mayoral elections approaching, Wayne knows his days as chief may be numbered if a newly elected mayor should decide to appoint someone else. Wayne says he feels he has a good rapport with the candidates, but regardless of the election outcome, Wayne accepts that the decision will ultimately be out of his control. Instead of worrying, he chooses to focus on his family, which he considers a blessing, and his continued hopes and dreams for the community he loves.

 
Wayne wields an unloaded assault rifle at the police department's private firing range outside of city limits. Sometimes community members don't recognize Wayne out of uniform. One time while shopping in street clothes another black man told him, "You look almost human."

Wayne wields an unloaded assault rifle at the police department's private firing range outside of city limits. Sometimes community members don't recognize Wayne out of uniform. One time while shopping in street clothes another black man told him, "You look almost human."

Wayne converses with coworkers between his daily tasks at the police department. Since stepping into the role of chief, Wayne's lifestyle and responsibilities have shifted significantly as his work schedule no longer adheres to a specific shift. Instead he's on call all hours of the day and night.

Wayne converses with coworkers between his daily tasks at the police department. Since stepping into the role of chief, Wayne's lifestyle and responsibilities have shifted significantly as his work schedule no longer adheres to a specific shift. Instead he's on call all hours of the day and night.

Wayne makes introductions before the start of an interview for a police officer. The department was seeking to fill three open positions to restore a full staff of 24. He sees hiring new officers as an opportunity to achieve his vision for diversity in the department. People have asked Wayne why the police department doesn't hire people of color, leaving him frustrated. "I still want the best person for the job. I would love to see people of color and more females apply, but if they don't apply then they're not a part of the interview process. It's that simple."

Wayne makes introductions before the start of an interview for a police officer. The department was seeking to fill three open positions to restore a full staff of 24. He sees hiring new officers as an opportunity to achieve his vision for diversity in the department. People have asked Wayne why the police department doesn't hire people of color, leaving him frustrated. "I still want the best person for the job. I would love to see people of color and more females apply, but if they don't apply then they're not a part of the interview process. It's that simple."

Wayne sits down with county commissioner Jack "Rackle" Adams (center) and city council member Al Botts as they judge a chili cook-off contest hosted by the Montgomery County Senior Citizens Center.

Wayne sits down with county commissioner Jack "Rackle" Adams (center) and city council member Al Botts as they judge a chili cook-off contest hosted by the Montgomery County Senior Citizens Center.

Wayne congratulates Ann Dragoo, the winner of the chili cook-off. As chief, Wayne takes pleasure in being present for community events like this where he can represent and be a face for the police department.

Wayne congratulates Ann Dragoo, the winner of the chili cook-off. As chief, Wayne takes pleasure in being present for community events like this where he can represent and be a face for the police department.

Wayne gathers with his wife Christy's side of the family for a Thursday night dinner. Wayne and Christy, who has been a deputy jailer for close to 30 years, have been able to cultivate a strong sense of mutual support within their relationship. "Having a spouse in the same field you're in gives you that intimacy to talk about things if you want to, but it also gives you that way out, if you don't want to talk about it, because she gets it. So that's powerful," he says.

Wayne gathers with his wife Christy's side of the family for a Thursday night dinner. Wayne and Christy, who has been a deputy jailer for close to 30 years, have been able to cultivate a strong sense of mutual support within their relationship. "Having a spouse in the same field you're in gives you that intimacy to talk about things if you want to, but it also gives you that way out, if you don't want to talk about it, because she gets it. So that's powerful," he says.

Wayne embraces his granddaughter, Makynleigh, 7, as Anniston, 5, clings to Christy at dinner. For Wayne, his four granddaughters are his world, and he and Christy care for them after school most days during the week. After a long day of work at the police department, Wayne will typically color or watch SpongeBob SquarePants with his granddaughters, allowing him to decompress. "I can feel the stress leave my body because of their innocence," he says.

Wayne embraces his granddaughter, Makynleigh, 7, as Anniston, 5, clings to Christy at dinner. For Wayne, his four granddaughters are his world, and he and Christy care for them after school most days during the week. After a long day of work at the police department, Wayne will typically color or watch SpongeBob SquarePants with his granddaughters, allowing him to decompress. "I can feel the stress leave my body because of their innocence," he says.

Figurines representing African-Americans in various professions sit on a shelf in Wayne's home office. Wayne hopes to inspire young people of color in the same way these figurines inspire him. His message to young people: "You don't have to be law enforcement like me, but you can be a professional. It may be harder, but you can do it; you've just got to want to do it."

Figurines representing African-Americans in various professions sit on a shelf in Wayne's home office. Wayne hopes to inspire young people of color in the same way these figurines inspire him. His message to young people: "You don't have to be law enforcement like me, but you can be a professional. It may be harder, but you can do it; you've just got to want to do it."

Wayne, left, stands with his identical twin brother, Dwayne Green. "We've been best friends for 55 years," says Wayne. Dwayne, a retired Winchester police officer, is another crucial source of support for Wayne. Both like to tell a story about when they both pulled over the same woman in their respective towns within 20 minutes. The woman complained to the Mt. Sterling Police Department that she was being harassed, but was ultimately embarrassed to discover that they were, in fact different officers.

Wayne, left, stands with his identical twin brother, Dwayne Green. "We've been best friends for 55 years," says Wayne. Dwayne, a retired Winchester police officer, is another crucial source of support for Wayne. Both like to tell a story about when they both pulled over the same woman in their respective towns within 20 minutes. The woman complained to the Mt. Sterling Police Department that she was being harassed, but was ultimately embarrassed to discover that they were, in fact different officers.