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125 Years Of African-Americans In The LAPD

The men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department proudly commemorate and celebrate National African-American History Month.  We salute the brave men and women of African descent whose actions and achievements contributed to the advancement of the nation’s and Los Angeles’ history.

This month we celebrate 125 years of African-Americans in the LAPD.  Throughout our history, African-Americans have helped shape the Department into what it is today.  From the first African-American officer in 1886, Robert W. Stewart, to the first African-American LAPD officer killed in the Line of Duty in 1923, Charles P. Williams; African-American’s influence is woven into the fabric of our organization.

In 1916, Policewoman Georgia Ann Robinson became the first African-American female officer. In 1992 Willie L. Williams became the first African-American Chief of Police followed by Bernard C. Parks as the second African-American Chief of Police in 1997.  In April 2000, Ann Young became the first African-American female Captain, and in 2010, Regina Scott was appointed as the first African-American female Commander in the history of our Department.

Homer F. Broome, Jr. became the first African-American appointed to each of these positions in the Department’s history.  In 2006, the Southwest Community Police Station was renamed in his honor.
Although the contributions and accomplishments of African-Americans in the LAPD are many, the plight to cement their place in the history of our organization did not come without historic barriers.

Two examples of this are Roscoe “Rocky” Washington, the Department’s first African-American lieutenant watch commander, and Earl C. Broady, also an African-American lieutenant.  Washington received his promotion in 1940 at Newton Street Division which was located in the heart of Los Angeles.  Although the Department was segregated during this time, many who were predominantly White were also assigned to Newton Street Division.  Washington’s new position posed a dilemma for the Department: should an African-American man have authority over White officers?

Added to this predicament was Earl C. Broady.  Broady, a former mail carrier, also advanced to the rank of lieutenant on the same day as Washington, leaving Newton Street Division with two Black watch commanders.  The Department reacted by creating an early morning “all black” watch for Washington and Broady to supervise.

During the middle of his probationary period, however, Broady was demoted to patrolman without cause or an official hearing.  After numerous unsuccessful attempts to regain his position, Broady resigned from the Department in 1945 at the age of 42.  He attended law school and was later appointed as a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge.  Washington made history again in 1949 when he became the first African-American watch commander to oversee White officers.

Tom Bradley joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 1940 and rose to the rank of lieutenant.  In 1973 he became the first African-American mayor of the City of Los Angeles.  A  five-term mayor, he served in office from 1973 to 1993. His 20 years in office mark the longest tenure by any mayor in the city’s history.

Today African-Americans can be found throughout the Department’s rank and file.  From Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger to the newest recruits out of the Academy, African-Americans are a part of this Department’s rich history.  We take the time in February to celebrate this history and to look forward to another 125 years of African-Americans in LAPD blue.