RICHMOND, Va. -- For 23 years, Carol Adams has worn the uniform of a Richmond Police officer.
She is also well known in the Richmond community through her work as the founder of the Carol Adams Foundation, a non-profit that provides emergency assistance to women, men, and children who are victims of domestic violence.
Now, recent police brutality demonstrations in Richmond and across the country have sparked new conversations about racial justice and police reform.
"When I put the uniform on, then I'm Officer Carol Adams, but still I'm always going to be Carol Adams. It's about being a human being," said the long time officer.
As a police officer, an African American and a woman, she understands why some protesters have concerns.
"Until you walk in my shoes and understand what that means by being in this profession and being a law enforcement officer, then could you really, really understand my role,” said Adams. “But then on the other side is the same as an African American. Until you walk in these shoes and understand what that means and what you have to take from society.”
But across the country and in the City of Richmond, some have cast a shadow of suspicion over the conduct of some law enforcement officers in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
"Of course you get backlash because when people see the uniform, they say 12 and stuff like that, but that does not get to you when you know you're here for the right reason," said Adams.
Despite the protests and demonstrations, Adams says what's happening now doesn't mean danger is any greater than any other time in her career.
"We have critical incidents and crises all the time, where when you put this uniform on, every day we walk out of our houses, there's no guarantee we're going to return,” she said.
Officer Adams says she has no doubt she is where she is supposed to be in her life. In 1980 she was just 17 years old when her mother was murdered in Richmond.
Now she's a part of trying to make a difference.
"If you're a black, white or brown person and you've had a negative interaction with police officers, then if that's what you want to be, become a part of the profession so that you can give that young person a different experience from what you had,” said Adams.
Adams says she believes some of the protesters will sign up to become police officers as a way to make change happen.