BJ COUNCIL

Founder, Primary Presenter of You & Five-O

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Beverly “BJ” Council is the founder and primary presenter of You & Five-O, LLC (YFO). As the first African-American female to achieve the rank of Deputy Chief within the Durham City Police Department, she addresses community challenges slowly and methodically to create lasting change. As a Black female and retired police officer, she offers a unique view from both sides: she understands the police perspective while also being aware of the systemic issues and generational trauma that affect the Black and Brown communities.

Originally from Eastern North Carolina, BJ grew up on her family’s farmland with her parents and brother. It was a rarity for Black communities to own land in those days, and from an early age, she learned the value of hard work and resiliency. After a short stint at North Carolina Central University and a little time spent back at home, BJ returned to Durham, where she slept on a friend’s floor until she found a place of her own. Never deterred from making the most of her circumstances, BJ worked several jobs to make ends meet, before joining law enforcement after a suggestion from a friend. She graduated from the Durham Public Safety Academy in 1982, trained as both a firefighter and police officer.

At first, being a police officer was just about paying the bills, but it soon became about much more. Being a part of law enforcement gave BJ the ability and agency to connect with and impact her community. As an officer, she was active in a variety of community outreach and policing enforcement programs. She spearheaded a program promoting the new seatbelt law, and ran a sting operation to serve warrants by inviting those with outstanding warrants to get a “prize” at a “pawnshop.” BJ was promoted to Corporal in 1987, and remained in Patrol as she later moved up to Sergeant. Eventually she was assigned as the Sergeant for the Violent Crimes Unit in Investigations, and by the mid-90s was promoted to Captain as a Watch Commander, then as a District Commander.

BJ was promoted to Major of Operations on September 10, 2001 - the day before the world changed. She retired as Deputy Police Chief of the Durham Police Department at the end of 2009. Her law enforcement career allowed her to serve and protect her community, as well as gave her many speaking opportunities, including talking to women about personal safety, homeowners concerned about safety in their communities, and youth about careers and the choice to join law enforcement. BJ takes every chance she gets to support others, and has even done a tandem parachute jump to raise money for victims of sexual assault.

BJ created You & Five-O in 2015 as a response to the rise of deaths that were occurring during interactions between law enforcement and the communities they serve. As the issues between these groups grew, their relationships were being damaged. After retiring from the Durham Police Department, BJ wanted to find a way to ensure that law enforcement maintained its honor of serving and protecting those in need, while also understanding the importance of asking and, most importantly, hearing the community about how they need to be served.

 

You & Five-O enables communities and citizens to become empowered by understanding their rights and knowing how to safely interact with law enforcement. BJ says “my inspiration comes from the examples my parents displayed as I was growing up. They both taught through action and were always helping people in our community. They showed me to treat people with respect and care, no matter their lot in life.” BJ’s mother, a teacher, was consistently the last person to leave the school building, often because she was sharing a laugh with the custodian. BJ’s father, with just a 7th grade education, always made sure the “town drunk” had food.

Caring for all people, including “the least of us,” comes naturally to BJ. Police work provides an up-close and personal view of the lives of people from all walks of life, so utilizing her compassion as an officer was essential in connecting with her community. You could often find BJ visiting with members of the communities she served, attending neighborhood meetings, and creating relationships with as many people as possible. She was a part of her community as an officer, not just someone that came when called. And even now, BJ cares for “the least of us” as she picks up earthworms from the hot street and secures them back on the earth during her daily walks.

BJ believes that when local police departments embrace the community policing philosophy and communities understand their role in it, both parties can work toward trust and mutual respect. When this initial step is taken, and when it’s accompanied by diversity and cultural training within law enforcement, YFO believes relationships between law enforcement and the citizens they serve can be improved. In this current moment, BJ aims to be an ally to those who are working toward reimagining policing. She started her YFO podcast in 2020 in response to the death of George Floyd, and as a way to express her thoughts and ideas about policing, protests, and the Black community, while also providing her unique perspective as a Black police officer.

Outside of running You & Five-O, BJ enjoys time at home with her wife, Chris. They have been together for 31 years, seven of those married. They have one furbaby - a mixed Rottie/German Shepherd named Frankie. And in her spare time, BJ enjoys watching cartoons, going for bike rides, and collecting all things Charlie Brown (Peanuts) - at one point she had over one thousand pieces!

BJ’s expertise, approachable personality, and unique perspective has allowed for opportunities to speak in numerous situations; including at Virtual Town Halls, on Podcasts like the Atlanta-based show Boss Locks, and in schools, community groups, local businesses, and justice-served organizations. BJ strives to be viewed as an individual who has learned from personal failings, discrimination, and struggling with her sexual orientation. She has utilized counseling in many ways and hopes to share her life lessons with others. BJ says, “I’d simply like to be seen as a member of humanity, that wants to lean into whatever the Universe has put me here to do and do it well.”

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PR REQUESTS

Crystal Kimpson Roberts

Please send any interview requests or press inquiries to Crystal at crystalkimpsonroberts@gmail.com or call 919-600-0435.