KCPD Historical Information   Lest We Forget
Leon Jordan
May 6, 1905, Kansas City, Missouri - July 15, 1970
Leon Mercer Jordan was an African-American teacher, police detective and politician. From Kansas City Missouri, He graduated from Wilberforce University, in Wilberforce, Ohio, and later worked as a social caseworker and teacher.

In 1938 he joined the Kansas City Police Department, working for 16 years and becoming the first African-American to achieve the rank of lieutenant. He was granted an extended leave of absence in 1947 and lived for eight years in the West African country of Liberia, where he reorganized a 450-man police force. Jordan participated in the reorganization of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department under Chief Lear Reed and used his experiences in that effort in his work in Liberia.

He left police work soon after his return from Liberia and launched both a business and political career. Jordan was first elected to public office in 1958. He founded Freedom, Inc. in 1962, with Bruce Watkins, his longtime friend and ally in inner-city political affairs. The club was established to give Black voters more influence and to develop Black candidates for political office. In 1963, under Jordan's leadership and with a public accommodations ordinance on the ballot, Freedom, Inc. conducted one of the most massive voter registration drives ever seen in Kansas City.

Jordan was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 1964. In 1970, Leon Jordan was perhaps the most powerful African-American in the state of Missouri. He also owned and operated the Green Duck tavern. Jordan was assassinated (shot at close range in a gangland-style killing) in the early morning hours of July 15, 1970, as he was closing his tavern. Although charges were brought against two individuals, no one was ever convicted and numerous attempts at investigating his murder during the following years were unsuccessful.

The Leon M. Jordan Memorial Park at 31st Street and Benton Boulevard, which features a statue of the slain leader, was dedicated in 1975.

In 2010, the Kansas City Police Department's Cold Case Unit reopened the investigation that resulted in new evidence being revealed that Leon Jordan's murder had been an unsanctioned mob hit finally giving closure to the 40 year-0ld investigation of his murder. A 900 page report documenting the investigation implicated the mastermind behind the murder as James "Doc" Dearborn a deceased organized crime leader. Dearborn and two associates had been indicted in 1973 but when one of the alleged triggermen was acquitted, charges against the others was dropped.