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February 2017 | Volume 10 | Issue 2

1867: African-American police officers are appointed to the police department in the Selma, Alabama; they would be followed in 1868 by officers in Jackson, Florida, and in 1870 by officers in Houston and Galveston, Texas. 

1870: New Orleans, Louisiana has 177 African-American officers, and three of five police board members were African American.

April 12, 1870: Officer William Johnson of Jacksonville, Florida becomes the first recognized African-American police officer killed in the line of duty.

1875: Bass Reeves is appointed as the first African-American Deputy U.S. Marshal.

1916: Georgia Ann Robinson becomes the first African-American woman police officer, serving in the Los Angeles Police Department.

1928: Dr. Louis Tompkins Wright is the first known African-American police surgeon.  He would later become president of the NAACP Board of Directors.

1941: William B. Lindsay becomes the first known African-American state trooper, hired by the Illinois State Police.

1966: Sheriff Lucius Amerson is one for the first elected African-American sheriffs, serving in Macon County, Alabama.

1972: The National Black Police Association is chartered.

1976: The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executive (NOBLE) is founded.

1988: Willie L. Williams becomes one of the first African-American police commissioners. He serves in Philadelphia and would subsequently become the first African-American commissioner of the Los Angeles Police Department in 1992.  

Approximately 58,000 African American Officers work in US Police Agencies today.*

* BJS Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS), 2013. Other information provided by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Museum

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