CHARLOTTE -- Since she was a little girl, Nina Wright always wanted to be a cop. 

But she knew it wouldn't be easy especially as an African-American woman.

 “Women, especially in policing, were not viewed very well. We were considered being in a field beyond our of expertise and ability,” said Wright.

She joined the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in the late 1980s.

One of first her challenges on the job was proving this is where she belonged. She said, “I had to tackle a man by myself, fight with him, get him handcuffed, were tussling around on the ground, get him cuffed, and then get him in the back of my patrol car and that's how I gained a little bit of respect from the men, saying, 'Yeah you're a female. Yes you're small but yes you can do the job.'”

But as she got promoted to sergeant and then captain, Wright says she had to keep proving herself -- often times, dealing with pushback from her brothers in blue.

Despite these obstacles, Wright says she let her work speak for itself.

“I can respect you even if you don’t respect me, and we [can] get this job done. Over time, they would begin to see that you aren’t what they stereotyped you to be,” she said.

In 2000, Wright became the department's first African-American woman deputy chief.

She said, “I felt like I could do the job, but [I knew] I was going to be tested all over again. It was a daunting task to say the least but exciting.”

Wright says she's proud of her career, but she didn't do it alone.

“I had my faith to fall back on, and I had a couple of really strong mentors and some key people who worked for me as a worked through the ranks that supported me.”

Now, more than ten years after retiring from the department in 2007, Wrght is back at CMPD – this time, working as the community relations manager

Wright says she's proud of the department's progress, but she says there's still room to grow.

“My hope and my efforts are to continue to do that, to mentor and to help make a difference for those that are the up and coming.”