Just Curious: Who was the first African American police officer in Macon?

Thais Ackerman, 13WMAZ Intern

This report has been contributed by Thais Ackerman, a student from Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.

In honor of Black History Month, we were “Just Curious:” Who was the first African American police officer in Macon?

“World War II sparked the emergence of Camp Wheeler which stationed a number of African American soldiers for training,” said Murial Jackson, head of Middle Georgia archives at Washington Library.

This sparked a need for a another group of law enforcement officers.

The Auxiliary Police force emerged.

This new reserve of part-time officers were only allowed to perform a portion of the same duties of the regular police force, which was composed of white men.

Walter Jones was one of the first men to become an auxiliary policeman. He was a black man.

“We would see him walking and my dad would go, ‘That was the first black policeman here in town’,” Jackson said.

In 1948, black police officers were allowed to participate in the regular forces.

“But blacks could only arrest blacks and whites could arrest black and white,” she said.

The first black men to be acknowledged as regular policemen were James Curtis and Joseph Gastin.

“Gastin was known to be a ‘tough cookie’ who ‘enforced the law to the letter,'” Jackson said.

The first female police officer was a black woman who was appointed in 1971.

“It’s interesting,” Jackson said. “It wasn’t  until ‘48 we got African American policemen but women still had that glass ceiling until 1971.”

This article originally appeared here.

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