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Museum honors Miami’s ‘First Five’ Black police officers

Their struggles and accomplishments helped break barriers and pave the way for future generations

first five black police officers miami

The “First Five” Black police officers of Miami are sworn in on Sept. 1, 1944. Their names are Officers Ralph White, Moody Hall, Clyde Lee, Edward Kimball and John Miledge.

City of Miami Black Police Precinct and Courthouse Museum

By Suzie Ziegler

MIAMI — A Miami museum is honoring the police officers who broke barriers as the city’s first Black patrol officers.

According to NBC Miami, the Black Police Precinct and Courthouse Museum is filled with displays that memorialize the struggles and accomplishments of the “First Five.”

In 1944, the city’s growing population meant that there weren’t enough white officers to patrol the streets. So, Clyde Lee, Moody Hall, Edward Kimball, John Milledge and Ralph White were sworn in secretly. At first, they weren’t allowed to be called officers or arrest white suspects even when the crime happened right in front of them, reported NBC Miami. The first five also had to drive bicycles instead of cars and they operated out of a segregated, separate police station.

The next year, the group of Black patrol officers grew to 15. Their efforts helped pave the way for Black Americans in law enforcement across South Florida.

“I’m nothing but grateful for everything they’ve endured because no matter what we went through, they went through so much more,” said Cpt. Delrish Moss of the Florida International University Police Department. “And the fact that they came out of it in good spirits, with their heads held high, that’s a lot. Those are big shoulders to stand on. I use every day of my career to live up to what they would have expected of me.”

Cops like Moss are paying it forward. According to NBC Miami, the museum wouldn’t be open today if not for the efforts of retired officers who fought to keep the courthouse open.