Mariah Maye is a special agent for the Atlanta Field Division. She has been with ATF for five years after previously working as an air marshal based out of New York City. She joined ATF due to her desire to fight violent street crime and help deter gun violence.
Continuing Family Traditions
Maye is proud to be an Afro-Latina with her family roots tracing back to Ponce, Puerto Rico. She grew up with her Puerto Rican grandparents in a diverse household in Paterson, New Jersey. Spanish was her first language before learning English at the age of six.
She fondly remembers some of her favorite holiday traditions. This includes dancing to their favorite songs while making dishes such as empanadas, guineos en escabeche and the infamous coquito. Her mom would also play salsa music early Saturday mornings to remind Maye that it was time to get up and start her weekend chores. These are traditions that she still follows as an adult because it brings her joy and makes her proud to be a Latina.
Cultural Representation in Law Enforcement
Maye is the first in her immediate family to join law enforcement and to be a federal agent. She understands the need for cultural representation, especially with the small number of Latinas currently in federal law enforcement. She thinks it is important to be “present in the room” because it not only encourages other Latinos to join law enforcement but also helps teach non-Hispanic colleagues about her culture and how it is important to who she is.
She acknowledges that people view law enforcement negatively and it has gotten worse in recent years. This is why the people in Black and Brown communities need to see law enforcement officers who look like them and speak the same language they do. She believes her diverse upbringing has enabled her to relate to people from multiple backgrounds and communities because of that. Maye feels it is important to have diverse voices contributing to the technologies, policies and programs being implemented in these communities to ensure that every voice is being heard.
When asked what advice she would give to someone interested in joining ATF, she said, “Believing in yourself is important, so if you believe you can, you will.” She also believes that successfully recruiting more Latinos to law enforcement starts in their communities. This includes establishing outreach programs, participating in community events and having more Latino agents at recruiting functions.
Appreciating National Hispanic Heritage Month
National Hispanic Heritage Month has encouraged Maye to think about her Hispanic heritage more deeply. Her heritage is part of her everyday life, so it’s not often she takes time to think about how it affects or impacts her career or the people around her. It is also an opportunity to allow her non-Hispanic colleagues to get to know the culture and brings people from different backgrounds closer together.