BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Friday morning, the Baton Rouge Police Department honored the first black officers to work in its department.
June 8 marked the 55th anniversary of when Steven Millican, Alfred Cummings, and Joe Stevens were hired back in 1963, forever setting the pace for diversity.
Chief Murphy Paul and his staff invited retirees who worked with these officers to talk about how the city and how BRPD has grown since then. Former BRPD officer, Frank Washington, says these three men highly influenced his life. "My ideology was to come to work, be the best I can be, look the best that I could look in my uniform, represent my uniform, myself, and those people," Washington said.
These men were the first African Americans to embrace the BRPD badge while serving and protecting the community. Washington says Stevens actually recruited him in 1973 when only around 20 African American officers were on the street, so his only goal was to put his best foot forward.
"I can remember having the thought that I didn't want to do anything that would embarrass them," Washington said.
Both former and current officers can agree their influence was boundless, bridging a gap in the community and sending the department in a progressive direction.
"They brought in a whole new era of police work and the creation of diversity within the police department," said former BRPD chief, Pat Englade. "Honestly, I believe that you have to have that diversity in the police department because you're policing a diverse town."
"If it wasn't for those guys, I wouldn't be in the position I'm in right now," said Chief Deputy Robert McGarner. "They paved the way for me. We come to work every day and we have each other's back. I come to work and don't see black and white. I see my brothers and sisters."
The event was held at BRPD headquarters.