Retired police officer writes book on history of blacks in the Philadelphia Police Department

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Arthur Matthews is holding more than a hundred and thirty years of history in his hands.

“The history of blacks is scattered and what we tried to do is bring it together to try and tell a story,” he said.

That story is called “Black in Blue”. It’s a book he wrote about first African-Americans to join the Philadelphia Police Department.

It begins in 1881. The black community in Philadelphia spent 10 years rallying for black officers. They felt like white officers weren’t doing enough for them.

That’s when Mayor Samuel King appointed Louis Carroll, Richard Colwell, Charles Draper and Alexander Davis as the first black police officers. Davis was even a former slave.

They immediately faced backlash in the community.

“The whites use to stand and watch them as if they were walking a parade,” Matthews said.

Their numbers increased through the decades.

Matthews himself spent 19 years with the Philadelphia police department, before retiring as a chief inspector in 1980.

Captain Deborah Francis with Philadelphia police is a member of the national organization of black law enforcement executives, or noble.

They work to build relationships between the police and community.

she thinks the book serves as a learning tool.

“That movement and how we were able to ascend up to certain positions where i’m a captain now, for me, in this book, that’s helped me to understand what my purpose is,” she said.

Since the first four, African-Americans have risen the ranks.

There have been five black police commissioners, including the current Commissioner Ricahrd Ross.

“By them being strong and by them hanging in there. You see where we are,” said Matthews.

You can find more information on how to get a copy of the book by visiting