The Thin Blue Line


Freda Lester is a retired Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) Major. Over a 29-year career, Freda served in various capacities and districts. She served as a community liaison for several neighborhoods, creating programs that reduced crime and strengthened community advocacy. In her last post she commanded the Northwest Service Patrol Area, one of the most challenging patrol areas in the City of Charlotte. Freda has received numerous awards and accolades for her police work, including CMPD Officer of the Year and the CMPD Medal of Valor for saving the life of a citizen. She serves on several non-profit boards, including chairing the board of the Keith Family YMCA. She earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a master’s degree in business administration from Pfeiffer University.

This episode is perfect for anyone interested in law enforcement, community policing, civil emergency response to protest, and a life dedicated to community safety.  


  • Freda shares what wearing the badge meant to her.

  • She assesses the relationship between the CMPD and the community.

  • She tells a story about not being liked simply because she was a police officer.

  • She identifies what CPMD is doing right in the community and what it could do better.

  • Freda reveals what her priority would be if she was the police chief.

  • She addresses how much of policing has become social work.

  • She discusses her involvement and the police reaction in the Keith Lamont Scott shooting that led to protests and civil disturbance in the City of Charlotte.

  • She answers criticism about how the CMPD Civil Emergency Unit responded to citizen protest during the Keith Lamont Scott shooting.

  • Freda shares how she feels when citizens protest against the police.

  • She discusses when a police shooting is justified.

  • She tells a story about drawing her gun at a vehicle felony stop and controlling adrenaline.

  • She remembers fellow officers who died from police killings and suicide.

  • Freda talks about what makes for a good cop, what parents say to children about police officers, and how she feels when she arrests someone.

  • She reveals what comes to mind when she hears the phrase ‘The Thin Blue Line.’

  • She remembers growing up on a farm, her time in high school, and how she came to join the CMPD.

  • She talks about being a rookie cop, how her CMPD career evolved, and being promoted to Sergeant, Captain and then Major.

  • Freda answers whether she still feels like a police officer and what’s next for her.

plus Mark’s Personal Word Essay: A Visit to Jail

To Learn More About Freda


  • What struck you about Freda’s comments?

  • What are your thoughts about the police?

  • What does ‘The Thin Blue Line’ mean to you?

  • How should public safety be maintained?

We invite your posts on our Facebook page.

This episode is sponsored by Blumenthal Performing Arts, celebrating its 25th year presenting the best in performing arts. 

Further support is provided by Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, one of America’s leading urban public libraries, delivering exceptional services and programs, with a mission to improve lives and build a stronger community. 

And by the Arts & Science Council, Charlotte-Mecklenburg's resource hub and lead advocate for the regional cultural community, providing Culture for All.

Additional support is provided by the UNC College of Arts + Architecture, celebrating a decade of creative education in the arts and design.