Remembering, Honoring and Celebrating ISP African American “Firsts”
Springfield – Illinois State Police (ISP) Officials are honoring Black History Month by saluting outstanding black leaders who have dedicated years of service and have left historical legacies for future Illinois State Troopers.
Not long after Tuskegee Airman Ellsworth Dansby, became the first African American master sergeant in the first black fighter squadron – the 99th Fighter Squadron - William B. Lindsay, became the first black state trooper to join the Illinois State Police in 1941, and is also believed to be the nation’s first black state trooper.
In 1941, the Illinois State Police was formally known as the Department of Public Safety operating with a budget of $60M and included Illinois prisons, parole agents, criminal investigations and 1,100 State Highway Police Officers.
Trooper Lindsay’s legacy was soon followed by another milestone for African Americans in Illinois law enforcement. Joseph D. Bibb, a prominent lawyer, was the first African American appointed to statewide office in Illinois government. In 1953, he was appointed to the cabinet of Governor William Stratton as the first African American Illinois Director of Public Safety.
Other trailblazers included Captain Robert M. Patton, the first African American to obtain the rank and position of District Commander. A college scholarship has been named in his honor and is awarded annually to five students selected by the Illinois Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers.
Trooper Sheila Parker and Trooper Pamela Grant were the first African American females to graduate from the ISP Academy. Their cadet class, CC53, was the first class to allow women to enter as cadets. Parker went on to become the first ISP African American female Lieutenant. Their legacies have paved the way to recent ISP history. Recently retiring in 2011, Lieutenant Colonel Delia Diamond was the first and only African American female to reach the distinguished rank. Colonel Harold E. Nelson, II who retired in 2009, is the first and only African American to attain the esteemed rank of Colonel. He is the son of Lieutenant Harold Nelson Sr., one of the first few African Americans to achieve the rank of lieutenant.
“The accomplishments of these leaders are admirable and should be celebrated during Black History Month. Their stories are notable and nationally recognized and they are excellent role models for this Agency and generations to come,” said ISP Director Hiram Grau.
Grau also stressed the importance of diversity in the ranks and the department’s on-going efforts to recruit more minorities.
The Illinois State Police is proud to recognize employees who have demonstrated their ability to be leaders, innovators, and team players. The Agency supports all of its employees and takes pride in recognizing those who strive to exceed the expectations of excellence, safety and security on behalf of the citizens of Illinois.
Trooper William B. Lindsay