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Passion project: Police Chief Amal Awad creates memorials for families of fallen officers

Three things you might not know about Anne Arundel County Police Chief Amal Awad.
Three things you might not know about Anne Arundel County Police Chief Amal Awad. (Kenneth K. Lam)

The consummate trailblazer, Amal Awad is the first woman, the first Black and the first LGBTQ police chief in Anne Arundel County history. It’s a challenge she holds dear.

“There is a lot of pressure there,” said Awad, 54, a 30-year police veteran who became chief in December 2020. A native of Landover, she’s the daughter of an African-American mother and a father who emigrated from Sudan. Awad started as a beat cop in Prince George’s County and later served as Hyattsville police chief. Married and the parent of a 21-year-old daughter, she holds a master’s degree in management from the Johns Hopkins University.

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Here are three things you might like to know about Awad:

She is quick on the draw as an artist.

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“Art is in my blood; my mother was a sketch artist and I studied art history at [the University of] Maryland. I have a passion for graphic design, a gift that has helped me create memorable pieces for the loved ones of fallen officers who are struggling with the loss of their beloved who died in the line of duty.

“I’ve shared these [graphic] memorials with the officers’ families and squad mates; it helps to give them a sense of connection.”

She was a caregiver to her late mother.

“My mom, Lydia Jones, died in 2017, after three years with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, and my wife, Jade, and I were her care partners to the end. We made room for her in our home in Upper Marlboro. It was heartbreaking to watch the woman who raised me [and six siblings] struggle — a brilliant woman and the strongest, most loving person I know.

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“There were lucid moments when she’d ask, ‘What’s the matter with me?’ It was difficult to watch but it was my honor and duty as her daughter to help her make it through each day as best she could. That [experience] has given me a deeper appreciation for humankind.”

The police chief has a dog named Copper.

“A couple of months ago, while at the grocery store, our daughter found a dog wandering through the parking lot and brought him home. We searched for a microchip, put his picture on our website and, finally, adopted him. His name is Copper, like coppers and robbers. He’s half-Chihuahua, half-Rat Terrier, full of energy and an unanticipated blessing. It’s a joy to come home on days when things are challenging because Copper loves you unconditionally.”

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