By Naeisha Rose
Michelle and Melissa Jones are the first African-American identical twin women serving as detectives of the NYPD, but they had different paths to wearing the shield.
The St. Albans residents, both 49, were born Oct. 11, 1969, at East Elmhurst Hospital and raised in Corona. The sisters were the first in their family to graduate from college.
Melissa originally wanted to join the U.S. 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 wanted 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 her second go around, Melissa decided to give the police force a try instead of going to Georgia to pursue law.
“I passed the [NYPD] driver’s test and I said, ‘well if I don’t like it I will leave the NYPD,’” Melissa said. “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.”
Melissa started off on patrol for the 110th Precinct from 1994 to 1999 in Corona. She was later transferred to the Community Affairs Bureau and worked 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. This was between 1999 to 2010.
During this time, Melissa was promoted to detective in September 2008. Later, she was personally asked to work with the newly appointed Chief of Parole Borough Brooklyn South Thomas Chan from 2011 to 2013, before returning to the Community Affairs Bureau from 2013 to 2014 with him. She currently works with Chan at the Transit Bureau implementing Vision Zero throughout the city for the NYPD and the Office of the Mayor.
Michelle was great in accounting while in high school and did not spend too much time exploring other career options after finishing school. She attended 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.
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 began to notice the high amount 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. Jones later got a job working at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Bellerose.
Michelle was sworn into the force 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 worked as a Domestic Violence Officer from 1997 to 2011 before serving as a School Safety Officer from 2011 to 2017. She currently works for the Citywide Task Force Transportation Outreach Unit.
She was promoted to a detective the day after her sister’s 25th anniversary in the NYPD — Aug. 31, 2018 — and what followed was a celebration to be remembered for the sisters.
“I was very, very happy,” said Michelle. “We went out to dinner.”
For both Melissa and Michelle, the pride they feel comes from the hard work they put into their communities every day.
“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,” Melissa said. “You interact [with the community] and you represent yourself and the department.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose