Illinois Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers Step Up As Role Models
Chicago – Illinois State Police (ISP) Officials are honoring Black History Month by highlighting the importance of an education and encouraging young men and women to become positive members and leaders of their communities.
In honor of this historic month, African American Troopers in the Chicagoland area conducted a "read-off" campaign at Edgar Allan Poe Elementary School in Chicago. The event was intended to encourage young people to make reading fun, stay in school, respect their family members, participate in community service projects, and to interact with law enforcement officers in a positive manner. The “read off” program encourages interaction between youth and adult role models and provides inner-city students with a unique opportunity to associate with Troopers who work in their community.
Additionally, active and retired members of the Illinois Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers (ABLE) participated in a mentor program that encourages the development of future African American leaders within the Illinois State Police. The mentor program called upon current and past ISP leaders to foster younger and newer ISP officers to enhance their growth, capabilities, knowledge and skills as they begin to see themselves as contributing members to the success and positive image of the ISP.
The Illinois State Police recognize the significant role African Americans have played in the history of the Department. In 1941, the ISP hired William Boyd Lindsay who is believed to be the nation’s first African American trooper. In 1953, Joseph D. Bibb made history when he became the first African American appointed to statewide office as Director of Public Safety. More recently, ISP Colonel Harold E. Nelson II, who retired in 2009, is the first and only African American to have attained the esteemed rank of Colonel.
African American females have also played significant roles in molding the ISP. Trooper Sheila Parker and Trooper Pamela Grant, for example, were the first African American females to graduate from the ISP Academy, with Parker going on to become the first ISP African American female Lieutenant.
Moreover, Lieutenant Colonel Delia Diamond, who retired in 2011, was the first African American female to reach the distinguished rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
On February 1, 2013, ISP Lieutenant Colonel JoAnn Johnson became the second African American female to attain the high ranking position. Lieutenant Colonel Johnson is among dozens of outstanding African American male and female ISP officers who have strengthened the agency through their dedication and commitment to service through the years.
“The Illinois State Police acknowledges the countless contributions African Americans have made toward shaping this organization into the nationally recognized agency it is today,” said ISP Director Hiram Grau. Director Grau also stressed the importance of diversity in the ranks and the department’s on-going efforts to recruit more minorities.
Illinois State Police Captain Patrick Kimes and Trooper Zena Smith interact with students from Poe Elementary School.