NORTH OMAHA Police
What were some of the key changes that needed to be made in order to integrate the Omaha Police Department?
Police: A Brotherhood of Black and Blue
Research Complied by: Seth F., Joy K., Tre'Vonte J., Bill K., and Akia S.
In the late 1970's, black police officers remained a small proportion of the total and these officers felt they were not being represented by the predominantly white Police Union. Black police officers responded by establishing The Brotherhood of the Mid-West Guardians in Omaha. This organization was the voice of black police officer’s voice in the department. In 1979, black policemen sued the city of Omaha for 10 million dollars. As a result of this lawsuit, the city made changes in their hiring policies.The next year a consent degree was included in an affirmative action plan which forced the city to hire more African American officers. The law stated that 40% of newly hired officers had to be African American until the Police Department reached a goal of 9.5%. This decree also required the city to look into the promotional practices to ensure African American officers were represented in the supervisory ranks. (Photo courtesy of Marlin McClarty).
Thomas Warren, Mark Foxall, Isaiah Jackson, and Marlin McClarty all have one thing in common: throughout their careers as police officers and beyond, they have been committed to serving the citizens of Omaha, Nebraska. In the 1960s, it was uncommon to see an African American police officer in Omaha.During that period, Isaiah Jackson served as one of the few black patrolmen on the force.In early March 1968, segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace came to Omaha to campaign for president.The controversial governor's visit attracted tense protests and prompted a mini-riot.Police officers, including Jackson, were called in to stop the violence, a tricky assignment given the racial politics on the force and in the community at that time.Thomas Warren joined the force in 1983 after important departmental changes brought by affirmative action.Following an historic legal case, the Omaha Police Department was forced to seek out and hire more black officers.Reflecting on this turbulent time of change on the force, Warren felt the new policy, while needed, also strained race relations because many whites believed African Americans had received preferential treatment. Despite these internal tensions, Warren worked his way through the system, eventually becoming the first black Police Chief in the history of the Omaha Police Department. Mark Foxall comes from a long, rich family history of law enforcement. He followed in the footsteps of his great-uncle, who served during the 1930s, and his father, the late Police Captain Pitmon Foxall, who faced a variety of racial challenges on the force in the 1950s and 1960s. Mark and his brother, who came on to the force during the 1980s, also faced discrimination during that era, but it did not discourage Mark. Instead, he stayed persistent and later became a Police Sergeant. He is currently the director of the Douglas County Department of Corrections. Marlin McClarty also had a family history in law enforcement. His father is a retired Sergeant, Marvin McClarty. Marlin's role as president of The Brotherhood of the Mid-West Guardians, which is the black officers' union, has played a major part in the hiring and promoting of qualified black police officers. Because of the efforts of the Brotherhood of the Mid-West Guardians, these pioneering black policemen and ongoing efforts at recruitment, today there are over 75 African American officers in the department.
Resources and Further Readings:
Foxall, Mark. Interview by Tre'Vonte J. Omaha, NE. July 17, 2012.
McClarty, Marlin. Interview by Joy F. Omaha, NE. July 18, 2012.
Jackson, Isaiah. Interview by Seth F. Omaha, NE. July 17, 2012.
Warren, Thomas. Interview by Joy F. Omaha, NE. July 17, 2012.
Fogarty, James. "Black Policemen Are Needed 'It's Not like Joining the Enemy.'"
Omaha World-Herald, January 28, 1973.
Hyland, Terry, and Rich Janda. "Detail Shift, Promotions Give Police a New Look." Omaha World-Herald, September 4, 1986.
"Fire, Police Plan Training."Omaha World-Herald, February 6, 1981.
"Police Cars Integrated."Omaha World-Herald, July 12, 1963.