Partners in crime (fighting)

Published 10:35 pm Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Officers Armanda Beale, left, and Lamanda Meekins are the first known set of twins in the Suffolk Police Department.

Officers Armanda Beale, left, and Lamanda Meekins are the first known set of twins in the Suffolk Police Department.

Editor’s Note: This is the third of a weekly series of stories running through February, Black History Month, that will focus on the unique contributions of various African-Americans in Suffolk.

Twin officers work same beat

Suffolk Police Officers Armanda Beale and Lamanda Meekins confound even their own co-workers, so a suspect didn’t stand a chance.

Meekins had arrested the man before and had even been in court with him just a few days prior. So when her identical twin, Beale, worked the scene after the man committed yet another crime, he was confused that she didn’t know who he was.

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“He was giving me all types of problems,” Beale said. “I had never seen him before in my life.”

Finally, another officer told the suspect, “You know she has a twin, right?” Everyone on the scene laughed — except the man in handcuffs, who didn’t see the humor.

“I’m pretty sure there will be more days like that,” Beale said.

The 24-year-olds are the first known set of twins to be hired at the Suffolk Police Department. Meekins began working there in September of 2011, and Beale joined in May 2012.

Born at the old Obici Hospital and raised in Suffolk as the daughters of Rickey and Lela Beale, both women always wanted to work in some type of law enforcement. Beale served on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps for five years before joining the department, while her sister attended college and then signed up.

“Law enforcement was something I always wanted to do,” said Beale, who remains in the Marine Corps Reserve at the rank of sergeant.

Meekins hopes to work her way up to her dream job, homicide detective, or perhaps go into law.

The sisters, who graduated from King’s Fork High School in 2006, often think alike and finish each other’s sentences. They have children the same age. They even work the same patrol area — East Washington Street — though they’re not allowed to be on the same shift. Meekins works 3 to 11 p.m., and Beale works 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Shift change is pretty much the only time they get to see each other.

“It’s hard to catch each other now,” Beale said.

But despite the time lost with family, the reward for the job comes in the moments like when a sobbing, lost girl about 12 blocks from home ran up to Meekins and hugged her legs, grateful to see someone she could trust to help her.

“I like to help people,” Meekins said. “It’s the small things that make your job worth doing.”

Added Beale: “That’s what I was going to say.”