Pittsfield Police Department's new officer is first black woman on city's force


PITTSFIELD — Izinna Lytle, who joins the ranks of the Pittsfield Police Department today, will be the first black female police officer in Pittsfield's history.

The Taconic High School graduate said she wants to inspire young girls in Pittsfield to be strong for their community in the same way now-Detective Kim Bertelli-Hunt once inspired her.

Growing up one of eight children to a single mother in the Wilson Park Housing Projects, Lytle says she looked up to Bertelli, who came to the projects regularly as part of the DARE program.

"Seeing her — I just thought she was the baddest thing ever, and I loved it," Lytle said. "Seeing her really inspired me."

Police work became her dream, she said, and her mother encouraged her to follow it. After her mother died of an aneurysm the year Lytle graduated high school, she said she knew she had to keep pushing.

"She's my biggest inspiration," Lytle said of her mother. "It's something she knew I wanted to do."

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Lytle said she kept moving forward, obtaining bachelor's and master's degrees in criminal justice, with support from her siblings and her uncle, Dennis Powell, president of the NAACP's Berkshire County Branch.

She said it's important for people in the community to feel reflected in the department, and she hopes to help build more trust in the city's West Side.

"If people could see more people who look like them, they might be more apt to go to the police," she said. "I believe that the department is moving in the right direction."

Lytle said she'd like to show minority children it's possible to push past adversity and follow your dreams.

"I want a child to see it and believe that they can do it, too," she said.

Amanda Drane can be reached at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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