KCPD Historical Information   Lest We Forget

K.C.P.H.S. Dedicates Gravestone for the First African-American Police Officer of the Kansas City Police Department

Beneath the bright blue skies of Father's Day Sunday, the Kansas City Police Historical Society began its step into history. After months of research, the founding members of the society diligently researched one particular past member of our police department. Their goal was to identify and locate as much history as possible about the member. His name was William F. Davis, the first African-American officer appointed to the department.

Officer Davis joined the department in 1874, the same year the police department came into existence under Chief Thomas M. Speers. Until now historians had claimed that at least two other black officers- Lafayette Tillman and Robert Alexander were the first African-Americans. However a line-by-line search of the city register from 1874 and a 1878 K.C. Times newspaper, revealed William F. "Bill" Davis was a "colored" policeman for fifteen years. He died in 1891 at age 48 from liver complications.

To honor Officer Davis, the Kansas City Police Historical Society dedicated the below marker at his gravesite, located at the Elmwood Cemetery (Truman and Van Brunt) on June 19, 2005 so future generations will know who he was and why his legacy was important to the history of this department.

Article from the July, 2005 issue of the Informant written by the Media Relatons Office of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department.