April 17, 2001 (ANNAPOLIS, Md.) – A Maryland county honors some pioneers -- the black officers who integrated its police department.
Anne Arundel County hired its first black officers in 1965. Those former recruits, Norfleet Barnes and Reginald Harris, will be among the guests tonight at a dinner at the county community college. Cpl. Elinor Foote, the first blck woman to serve in the county department, will also be thee, along with acting Capt. Athena M. Baker, the highest-ranking African-American.
Maryland remained a segregated state into the 1960s. George Phelps Jr., the first black to serve as a law enforcement officer in any Anne Arundel agency when he became a sheriff’s deputy, remembers a former county police official promising that there would be no black officers, ever.
Phelps and other officers and former officers say that Anne Arundel still has some distance to go. There are now 44 blacks in a department with more than 600 officers, and there are even fewer Hispanics and Asians.