February is Black History Month, and the Golden Valley Police Department (GVPD) is celebrating by sharing stories about African American men and women who were pioneers in law enforcement and criminal justice across the United States.
As Golden Valley’s first African American police chief, Virgil Green knows he’s part of that group, and he believes all people need to hear these stories. The GVPD will be sharing them on the City of Golden Valley website and the GVPD Facebook page.
“It’s important that all races know more about the African American men and women who were trailblazers during their times, when many were not allowed to hold positions and titles that were only for whites in law enforcement,” said Green.
One example is Bass Reeves, who was appointed the first African American Deputy US Marshal west of the Mississippi in 1875. Another is Georgia Ann Robinson, who was the first African American female police officer, serving in the Los Angeles Police Department in 1916. Closer to home is Deborah Montgomery, who in 1975 was the first African American female police officer in St Paul, Minnesota, and Alice White, who in 2021 became the first female assistant police chief in Golden Valley and who later served as interim police chief, a position no Black female had held in Minnesota.
Green said this type of outreach is a first for his department. “Growing up in Hobbs, New Mexico, in junior high and high school they didn’t teach you much about Black history.” he added. “It’s important that not just younger generations know more about the impact these men and women had in law enforcement.”
“The history is there,” said Green. “We just need to make sure everyone knows about it.”