African Americans in Law Enforcement
1897 – 1995
Patrolman William Jenkins - First Black Dayton Police Officer 1897
The role of African Americans in law enforcement in Dayton is one of limited numbers but heroic action and great sacrifice. In 1897, William Jenkins became the first black man to be appointed to the position of patrolman. No other African American men are known to have been appointed to the police force until Lucius Rice joined in 1909 and George Wheeler joined in 1910. These two men would have long and remarkable careers. In 1915, Patrolman Rice became the first African American to be promoted to the rank of sergeant.
In 1926, Sergeant Rice was wounded in a gun battle but was able to shoot down his attacker. Thirteen years later, in 1939, Detective Sergeant Rice became engaged in another gun battle… this time he was killed. Det. Rice was the second African American and the longest-serving Dayton police officer to have been killed in the line of duty with 30 years of service. On either side of Det. Rice were two other courageous African American police officers who sacrificed there lives in service to the Dayton community: Patrolman William ‘Tom’ Wilson, the first African American Dayton officer to die in the line of duty in 1928 and Officer Eddie Hobson in 1981.
In 1943, Patrolman George Wheeler became the first African American police officer to retire from the police force after a 32-year career. Three years later, in 1946, Phillip Greer was appointed to police service and patrolled the streets of Dayton. Greer would follow in Lucius Rice’s footsteps by advancing to the detective ranks. Detective Greer retired from the police force in 1972, after a 26-year career. There were six black officers on the police department when Det. Greer joined and by 1964 the number had increased to seven.
In 1973, cities across the nation were pressed by federal civil rights legislation to alter hiring practices, and Dayton began adjusting as well. Consequently, the police department began actively campaigning to increase the number of African Americans in its ranks. That year, Tyree Broomfield was appointed to Chief of Staff at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, the first African American to serve in a command position on the police force. By 1977, there were 50 black officers on the Dayton Police Department.
In 1983 Lt. Col. Broomfield became the Dayton Police Department’s first African American Chief of Police. Other African Americans who were the first to be promoted to higher ranks on the Police Department were Officer Jaruth Durham-Jefferson, a black woman to the rank of sergeant in 1987; Sergeant Steven Miller to the rank of Lieutenant in 1991 and Ronald Lowe, Sr., the first African American career Dayton police officer appointed to the rank of Major in 1988 and then to the head the police department in 1995 as Chief of Police.
Women in Law Enforcement
1888 – 2007
Camerica Feature on Police Off. Dixie Belt 1956
The role of women in law enforcement in Dayton has evolved a great deal from the 1880s to the present day. But change came gradually and many times with reluctance.
Early on, women served as caretakers for troubled youths. Later, they were given assignments that had to do with social welfare. Eventually, women were placed in uniform assignment – initially to handle traffic posts or jail duty – and became some of the first in the nation to conduct patrol, answer service calls and respond to emergencies.
The position of Police Matron began as a temporary position in 1888, and became a permanent part of the police force in 1894. Initially, the matron’s duties were to assist in looking after female prisoners and to care for arrested, wayward or lost children.
In 1914, the Bureau of Policewomen, the first “women’s police force,” was organized and reported directly to the Director of Public Safety. Matron Annie R. McCully was named the first Dayton Policewoman and was given the responsibility of organizing this “women’s police force.” These new policewomen had more duties than the matrons had, including handling probation cases, conducting limited forms of police surveillance of conditions and institutions, and giving “talks” to organizations.
In 1947, a study of Dayton’s police division concluded that “Dayton has developed the use of policewomen to a greater extent than any other large city in Ohio” having the Ohio’s second largest women’s force, consisting of seven policewomen and three matrons. In 1950, Hazel Clark, who had become a policewoman in 1926, became the first woman to be appointed to the rank of sergeant.
By the 1970s, women were becoming more integrated into the police force. In 1973, patrolmen and patrolwomen were renamed “police officer” – badges and hat shields reflected the change – and assigned to uniform patrol duties. In 1979, Officer Vickie Hensley became the first female street patrol sergeant. In 1988, Officer Nancy Breen became the first woman patrol officer to retire on police service pension after a 32-year career.
Over the last quarter century, women have been involved in every aspect of police service, including patrol, vice, investigations, training, supervision and command. Women have continued to advance in law enforcement careers across the nation and on the Dayton Police Department. Chief Wanda D. Smith was the first woman to be promoted at three ranks: Lieutenant in 1986, Deputy Chief of Police in 2002, and as the Interim Chief of Police in 2007, making her the first woman to head the Dayton police force.
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