Officers Recall Black History Of Tyler PD

From prejudice, racial slurs, and segregation to ultimately triumph. It's the history of black officers with the Tyler Police Department.

Today, the department has evolved from a time when you could count the number of blacks in the department on your hand to blacks working in every aspect of law enforcement.

"We were the first. There were no black policemen down here in the police department then."
Ira Brown took a chance in 1954 when he and a friend became the first black officers to join Tyler PD.

"When they hired us," Mr. Brown said, "Chief Butler said we were hired to work in the black community and if you have any trouble with whites, you call white officers."

Back then a black officer couldn't pull over a white citizen. In fact black officers couldn't eat in restaurants on the square or patrol in white neighborhoods.

"They weren't used to (any) black officer stopping them," Mr. Brown said. "A lot of times they would say you can't arrest whites, why you messing with me? They were right. We couldn't arrest whites."

It wouldn't be until almost thirty years later when Sandra Nauls-Mast became one of Tyler's first black female officers.

"Back when I first started there was a surprise," Officer Nauls-Mast said. "Most people would look at you and stare at you. I think it was kind of different, having black females here, and you had a few officers did not want you here and they told you. Gradually everything changed."

It's because of these officers courage, the youngest of the group, 2-year veteran Malcolm McGuire, knows a different department and is marking a new history.

"It absolutely blows my mind, to see the different generations that sit in this room," he said. "I don't have the luxury, actually I do have the luxury of having all these different mentors that they didn't have."

"The officers before me didn't have that," Officer McGuire said. "They didn't have mentors. I'm just blessed to be around them and to learn and cling as much as I can from them.
Now, these officers hope another generation will follow in their lead.

Today there are 10 black officers with Tyler's Police Department. The officers say they are working in the community and with Chief Gary Swindle to continue to increase the number of blacks with the department.

Maya Golden reporting,