TEXAS PEACE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION
TEXAS PEACE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION. On October 17, 1935, black police officers in South Texas organized the Texas Negro Peace Officers Association, the first black police organization in the United States. In March 1934 black police officers in Houston laid the groundwork for the organization by hosting a ball to raise money for a burial fund. Black police from Galveston, San Antonio, and Beaumont attended the ball and with the black officers of Houston decided to make it an annual affair. On September 18, 1936, the officers adopted a constitution and a month later met in Dallas to form a statewide organization. At the Dallas meeting the members marched in uniform. They were the highlight of the "Negro Day" parade held at the Centennial Exposition of the state of Texas on October 19, 1936. In their 1949 charter the members stated that the organization was formed "to encourage and promote improvements in the qualifications and the efficiency of Negro peace officers of Texas and to encourage more qualified and capable Negro men to become peace officers and to promote their employment in all capacities and grades by all towns, cities and counties in the state of Texas." In the 1930s and 1940s there was considerable hostility toward blacks serving in law enforcement. Black police did not arrest whites in most cities and locales in Texas. During Reconstruction blacks had served prominently in the state police. The Texas Negro Peace Officers attempted to overcome this hostility by holding annual conventions throughout the state to meet local law enforcement officials and to demonstrate that blacks were professionals. The association also required members to contribute to a defense fund to defend member officers who became involved in litigation as the result of an arrest or legal investigation in the performance of their duties. During the fifty-two years of its history the organization has undergone a number of changes. After its formative years World War II interrupted the growth of the organization, and it declined. After the war the organization revived and under the leadership of Brown L. Brackens of San Antonio increased its membership. In 1954 the organization's leadership even attempted to form a southern peace officers' association with black police officers from Louisiana and Oklahoma. In 1955 the organization dropped "Negro" from its name and became the Texas Peace Officers Association. This name change represented an attempt to remove the stigma from themselves as being different from other police officers on the basis of race. In the 1960s the improvement in race relations in Texas and in the status of black police allowed the organization to drop its defense fund for the protection of its members and concentrate more on benevolent activities such as providing scholarships and assistance to the needy. In the 1970s the Texas Peace Officers Association remained an important organization among black police officers in Texas, but local black police associations, such as Houston's Afro-American Police Officers Association, supplanted it as the major organization attempting to improve the status of black police in law enforcement agencies in Texas cities. In August 1985 the Texas Peace Officers Association held its fiftieth anniversary convention. The organization remembered its early leaders and founders. The names of James A. Ladd and Henry Breed of Houston, Brown L. Brackens of San Antonio, and Leroy "Buster" Landrum of Galveston (the only surviving charter member) received special mention. The organization's members were able to commend themselves for being the oldest black police organization in the United States. In 1989 the Texas Peace Officers Association was headed by Houston constable M. C. Tippett and had 124 members. In 1995 state headquarters of the organization were in Dallas. The group was also affiliated with the National Black Police Association.
Dallas Express, October 17, 31, 1936. William Marvin Dulaney, Black Shields: A Historical and Comparative Survey of Blacks in American Police Forces (Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State University, 1984). Houston Forward Times, June 15, 1963. Houston Informer, February 24, March 24, 1934, August 21, 1948, May 1, 1954. Houston Post, October 23, 1976.