St. Albans residents Michelle and Melissa Jones, 49, are the first African-American identical twin women serving as detectives of the NYPD, but they had different paths to wearing the shield.
The sisters were born on Oct. 11, 1969, at Elmhurst Hospital, raised in Corona and were the first in their family to graduate from college.
Melissa originally wanted to join the Army, but later decided to study Criminal Justice at John Jay College in Manhattan and she graduated with her degree in 1991. While in school she had passed the police exam and was called several times to join the force, but she deferred to complete her degree first.
With little time left before her police exam list expired and having passed the NY Driver’s exam on Aug. 27, 1993, Melissa decided to give the police force a try. Had she not passed the driver’s test for a second time she would have pursued law in Georgia.
“I passed the [NYPD] driver’s test and I said, ‘well if I don’t like it I will leave the NYPD,’” said Melissa. “Of course, 25 years later and I’m still with the NYPD.”
Melissa was sworn into the police force Aug. 30, 1993.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I finished high school, but I did know that I wanted to help people,” said Melissa. “If I went to law school I realized I would be at my desk all day.”
Michelle was great in accounting while in high school and did not spend too much time exploring other career options after finishing school. She went to Virginia State University studying to become an accountant and had no idea her twin had taken the police exam during their sophomore year in college.
“Back in those days they said that once you finish high school, you needed to graduate from college and then you get a job,” said Melissa.
Michelle went on to get a temp job as an assistant buyer and later worked in retail in stores like Macy’s and Century 21, but shortly afterward saw a lot of pink slips given out, as some of these shopping centers started to go under.
“I looked at the NYPD for job security purposes,” said Michelle. “I told myself that I was not going to work as hard as my mother, and I’m going to put myself in a position where I can retire before the age of 50, and if at 50 I still want to work I will do it on my terms.”
The twins’ mother Freddie Mae Jones moved from Georgia to New York in the early 1960s and worked as a housekeeper and nanny, and later got a job working at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Bellerose.
Ultimately Michelle was sworn in 1997 and stayed on the job because of her love to serve the community.
“Every day a person should get up and make the day a better one than it was yesterday,” said Michelle.
Since joining the force Michelle has worked as a Domestic Violence Officer (1997-2011), she worked as a School Safety Officer (2011-2017) and she currently works for the Citywide Task Force Transportation Outreach Unit.
“We go to the schools, senior centers and we try to teach people the safety of crossing the street [and the] the nuances in city infrastructure, like the light symbols, the crosswalks…things to keep seniors safe and to keep safe,” said Michelle.
She was promoted to a detective on Aug. 31, 2018, the day after her sister’s 25th anniversary on the force.
“I was very, very happy,” said Michelle. “We went out to dinner.”
Melissa started off doing patrol for the 110th Precinct (1994-1999) in Corona, later she was transferred to the Community Affairs Bureau working in Manhattan and Queens visiting high schools for the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program and the Gang Resistance Education and Training Program, which were later eliminated for the School Safety Division Uniform Task Force (1999-2010).
During this time Melissa was promoted to detective on Sept. 29, 2008.
“I was excited and I was appreciative of my bosses that they saw fit to give me a detective shield.”
Later she was personally asked to work with the newly appointed Chief of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South Thomas Chan (2011-2013), then Melissa went back to the Community Affairs Bureau (2013-2014), and now she currently works for the Transit Bureau implementing Vision Zero throughout the city for the NYPD and the Office of the Mayor.
“I feel great about this job because you can make it your own and work with the community and you are still your own boss,” said Melissa. “You interact [with the community] and you represent yourself and the department.”