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These Were The First Black Police Officers

One quality that defines a police officer is dedication. No matter the obstacles in their way, they rise to the challenge. However, wearing the uniform as a black officer in a white-dominated world wasn’t an easy thing. 

We go back in history to recognize and applaud 10 of the most famous first black police officers in American history who paved the way during the challenging era and showed unwavering dedication. 

1.   Robert William Stewart 

Robert was born on March 1, 1850, to a slave family. He later gained his freedom after the United States Civil War.

He moved to California and became the first African American officer in the Los Angeles force in 1886, where he worked until May 1900.

Robert was accused of sexual assault by a white teenager, and he was arrested but was later acquainted. That made him never return to his position again. He died on July 27, 1931, due to prostate cancer. 

2.   Samuel J Battle 

Samuel J Battle was the first black officer at the New York police department, where he started serving on March 6, 1911.

People nicknamed him Big Sam, and he had a soft spot in everyone’s eyes. He earned the respect of other officers, who voted for him to join Sergeants Academy. 

In 1926, he became the first African American police sergeant, a lieutenant later in 1935, and the first black officer to become a parole commissioner in 1941.

He retired as a parole commissioner in 1951 and died on August 7, 1966.  

3.  Georgia Ann Robinson 

If you think there was no female officer in American history, you should reconsider that thought.

Georgia, born on May 12, 1879, worked as a volunteer jail matron for three years and was appointed an officer in 1919.

That made her the first black female American police officer who served the Los Angeles police department. She solved black women-related issues, homicide, and juvenile cases. 

Her career came to a halt when she lost her sight as a result of an injury from a prisoner. She later died on September 21, 1961, at the age of 82. 

4.   Bass Reeves 

Bass Reeves, born in July 1838 to a slave family, joined the ranks of law enforcement after he became a freeman.

He was a farmer, scout, and gunfighter who became a deputy US Marshal. He became the first black deputy Marshal, whose primary job was tracking fugitives.

He quickly made a name for himself as he arrested 3,000 men and killed 14 in his line of duty. He died on January 12, 1910, due to Bright’s disease. 

5.   James Wormley Jones 

James Wormley Jones, born September 22, 1884, was a black policeman and a veteran of World War I. James began his career serving in the Washington Metropolitan Police Department in 1905. 

His dedication and hard work made him climb the ladder quickly, and he became a detective in 1919.

He was the first African American to join the Bureau of Investigation (now known as FBI) due to his expertise in making explosives. He also worked as an undercover for the anti-terrorism general intelligence division. However, he retired in 1923. 

6.   William Boyd Lindsay 

William Boyd, born on January 14, 1915, was the first black trooper commissioner in the Illinois state police Department.

He had intensive training as a cadet, which saw him secure a police officer post where he served for five years. 

He later advanced his service by becoming a sergeant. In 1946, he transferred to the Chicago Police Department, where he served until 1966 when he retired. 

7.   Moses P Cobb 

Moses P Cobb was born in 1856 in Kinston, North Carolina. He was an officer in the New York Patrol Department from 1892 and the first African American officer to retire from the force. 

He walked 500-plus miles along the underground railway from New York to Brooklyn.

His positions as an officer included guarding prisoners and helping transport them.

He also worked as an undercover officer infiltrating gambling houses. He retired in 1917. 

8.   Charles P Williams 

Charles P Williams was born in Waco, Texas, on March 3, 1887. He later moved to Los Angeles, where he worked at Southern Pacific Railroad as a dining waiter before joining the Los Angeles Police Department on August 13, 1920.

He also worked undercover with his partner lover, but on January 19, 1923, he was shot dead in the line of duty. 

9.   Oscar Joel Bryant 

Oscar Joel Bryant was born on January 8, 1942. He was an African American who served the Los Angeles Department for four years. However, four armed robbers killed him while in the line of duty. 

10. Lucius Amerson 

Lucius Davenport Amerson, born on October 7, 1933, was a black officer who became the first African American sheriff.

He was elected to the Alabama office police department and started his work in 1967. He was elected four consecutive times and served for 20 years. 

These pioneers stand as shining examples of the first black police officers in American history, whom we proudly commemorate. They proudly served their communities no matter how daunting the task was. 

Though serving in a white-dominated profession was difficult, they rose to the occasion. Their dedication and hard work ensured American’s safety, so we applaud them.

Geoffrey Migiro

Geoffrey Migiro is a contributor at Kenyalogue.com, dedicated to sharing impactful stories. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Science and Technology from Egerton University. With a keen ability to uncover the human aspect in each story, Geoffrey excels in crafting compelling narratives that resonate with his audience. Prior to joining Kenyalogue, he worked at WordAtlas.com

Geoffrey Migirohttps://kenyalogue.com/
Geoffrey Migiro is a contributor at Kenyalogue.com, dedicated to sharing impactful stories. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Science and Technology from Egerton University. With a keen ability to uncover the human aspect in each story, Geoffrey excels in crafting compelling narratives that resonate with his audience. Prior to joining Kenyalogue, he worked at WordAtlas.com
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