St Louis Police Veteran's Association City of St Louis Metropolitan Police Department City of Saint Louis Missouri Early Black Police Officer History
Seth Singleton A former school teacher and merchant, was employed on May 22, 1897 by the St Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
At age 44 Seth Singleton was assigned to be a secretary to William Desmond, Chief of Detectives.
Seth Singleton became a Captain and died March 21, 1933 as documented in the
March 25, 1933 St Louis Police Journal.
March 28, 1901 Two Black men, Allen W Wilkinson, a barber and Andrew J Gordon, a shoemaker
were the first Black men to be appointed to the City of Saint Louis Police Department as Probationary Police Officers.
They were assigned as special officers under the supervision of the Chief of Detectives
and were never to appear in police uniform.
Police Officer Allen W Wilkinson was dismissed October 16, 1903 over a complaint from a saloon owner.
Another Black man by the name of Hugh Allen was appointed in November 1903.
Police Officer Hugh Allen resigned in May 1904 because of political influences.
Another Black man by the name of Reece Evans was appointed in December 1904 and resigned in 1906.
On June 16, 1905 a Black man by the name of Joseph Wilson was appointed.
Allen W Wilkinson was reinstated in 1906.
On June 19, 1907, William W. Crockett and Ira L.Cooper were appointed as Probationary Police Officers.
Photo of Ira L. Cooper Police Officer Saint Louis Police Department Saint Louis Missouri
IRA L. COOPER
Ira Cooper was probably the most significant Black African-American police officer of the early history of the
Saint Louis Police Department.
Ira Cooper was a native of New Florence, Missouri, moved with his family to Mexico, Missouri, in 1889 when he was twelve.
Ira Cooper was appointed June 19, 1907 as one of the "negro specials" and served only the city's black neighborhoods.
Officer Cooper was a college graduate with a degree in ophthalmology.
The degree was received from Northern Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago.
Ira Cooper had come to Saint Louis to practice his profession of medicine dealing with the eye and its diseases.
Ira Cooper decided to join the police department after realizing he had to find another line of work.
During his career he survived racial restrictions imposed on Black Police Officers to solve several important crimes.
In 1924 he solved a $35,000 Mercantile Bank embezzlement scheme concocted by a black porter.
In 1930 he solved the Jacob Hoffman, a bookmaker, kidnapping breaking up a ring of criminal operating in the city.
Officer Cooper would become the first Black Sergeant in 1923
and the first Black Lieutenant in 1930 and commanded a squad of Black Detectives.
Ira Cooper died in 1939.
There were as many as 12 Black specials at one time with the Police Department before 1920.
The number of black police officers was down to six in 1921.
In 1921 the first uniformed black police officers who served Saint Louis started.
In February 1924 there were twenty Black members of the Saint Louis Police Department.
In 1991 the first Black African-American
was appointed to Police Chief of the Saint Louis Police Department.