BALTIMORE COUNTY, MD. (WJZ) — Baltimore County Police is offering its condolences and gratitude to the family of the first African-American female officer in the department, Karen Anderson Shelton, who has died.

Anderson-Shelton joined the department in April 1975, graduating from the police academy as a member of the 49th Recruit Class and was on the Central Traffic Unit by August 1975.

Credit: Baltimore County Police

She moved to an investigative unit in January 1976, then to the Towson precinct a year later.

After transferring to the Employment Unit in 1979 she finally settled into a position as an instructor at the Baltimore County Police Training Academy in 1980.

Baltimore County Police cited her as making a “big impact” on the recruits she trained at the academy.

Credit: Baltimore County Police

“She did a great job breaking in and teaching the rookies at the academy. She was chosen to be the first for a reason and she showed the County they made a good choice.” One officer said.

After transferring to Employment in 1985, she helped found the Blue Guardians in 1986- an organization within the BCPD that offers representation to minority officers.

“She was a visionary as a founding member of the Blue Guardians. She knew there were issues minorities were facing and would face in the future and she addressed them fearlessly, not just for African-Americans but for women, too.” said Sergeant Anthony Russell, President of the Blue Guardians.

She retired from the department in 1993 after moving back to the Towson Precinct in 1992.