02/26/2001

History of blacks in the police department
[St. Louis, MO]

February 25, 2001, Sunday, Five Star Lift Edition
Copyright 2001 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Inc.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
February 25, 2001, Sunday, Five Star Lift Edition

(ST. LOUIS, Mo.) -- Important African-American achievements in the history of the St. Louis Police Department:

1899: Andrew J. Gordon and Hugh Allen are the first African-American applicants to pass a police exam. They don't get appointed because they don't join the Democratic Party.

1901: Gordon and Allen Wilkerson are appointed to the force by a Democra tic mayor. Some white officers threaten to strike, and both black officers are assigned plainclothes duty to make them less conspicuous.

1921: The St. Louis Police Board appoints 10 African-Americans to the department. They are the first black policemen allowed to wear police uniforms in St. Louis.

1923: Ira Cooper, a college graduate appointed to the force in 1906, is promoted to the rank of sergeant. He is not allowed to wear a uniform and is restricted to supervise the black detective unit.

1924: The St. Louis Relief Association, which raised money to support benefits for retired officers and their widows, initially rejects but then accepts 20 African-American officers.

1930: Ira Cooper becomes the department's first black lieutenant. He is assigned to supervise only blacks.

1935: A black applicant, Thomas Brooks, is rejected for poor eyesight by a police department doctor. Brooks obtains the services of an outside doctor and the support of his political ward leader and is accepted. In 1971, Brooks is promoted to major.

1948: James A. Taylor becomes the first black officer to wear a sergeant's uniform. He supervises a platoon of black uniformed officers.

1956: Edward Bolden becomes the first African-American promoted to the rank of captain and to command a district station.

1968: St. Louis becomes the ninth major city to recognize a black police association. That same year, Roy Miller becomes the first black St. Louis police officer to graduate from the FBI Academy in Washington.

1970: Atkins Warren becomes city's first black major.

1973: Theodore McNeal becomes the first African-American president of the St. Louis Police Board. By the end of his tenure in 1977, St. Louis had the highest proportion of black officers above the rank of sergeant of any major city in the nation.

1974: Atkins Warren becomes the first black lieutenant colonel in the department.

1978: William Alphin becomes commander of the department's first Hostage Response Team.

1990: Audrey Lee becomes the city's first African-American female police officer.

1991: Clarence Harmon becomes the first African-American chief of police in the city. He is succeeded in 1995 by the second African-American and current chief, Ron Henderson.

Source: St. Louis Police Department

Terms and Conditions
Copyright©2000 LEXIS-NEXIS, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.

Back to previous page