Black History 365 – First African-American police officer in present-day New York City

Photo Source: (Not sure if this image is actually of Wiley Overton or is just a file photo of a random Black officer)

Photo Source:
(Not sure if this image is actually of Wiley Overton or is just a file photo of a random Black officer)

In 2016 for my Black History 365 series, I explore the obvious and not so obvious parts of American history that those called Black have taken part in. The things that we (Black people) have done other than be stolen from our homeland and made forced labor in a land foreign to us. I’m going to start this series by looking up the first time someone African-American did something and broke the color barrier in that activity or field. I’ll be starting with Wikipedia and working my way out:

I will be learning a lot of this as I go since I am a product of the standardized Euro/Anglo/Caucasian leaning public school system. I hope you enjoy learning with me. I’ll be going down the list chronologically as it appears in the Wikipedia article.

If you have any other sources or additional information for this topic, please share in the comments. I also welcome any and all comments and discussion. Thanks for reading!
There was not a Wikipedia article so this is what I found from the few things listed online:

Hired by the City of Brooklyn before it merged with New York in 1898, the Police Department considers Wiley G. Overton, sworn in by Brooklyn in 1891, as the city’s pioneer black officer. [1] Sadly, Overton was met with hostility from his white counterparts and only two years later, he resigned from his post. [2]

There is not much information online about Wiley Overton and I am not sure that the image on the Crime Stoppers article is really Overton or not. I did contact the The National Black Police Association (NBPA) to see if their organization keeps any historical records of things like this. I also contacted the City of Brooklyn Police Department with the same question. I’ll update this if I can be given more information and/or sources of info.



[1] Recalling First Black Appointed to New York Police Dept.

[2] Google Books: African American Firsts: Famous Little-Known and Unsung Triumphs of Blacks by Joan Potter (p 135)

Crime Stoppers Atlanta
(I’m not sure why this article which is CLEARLY about 1st black police officer has a URL saying first black president but it IS the URL that was in the address bar)




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