When Clarence Dickson joined the Miami police force in 1960, the city was segregated and he was in the first class to integrate the department.
At that time, black officers were allowed only to patrol black neighborhoods, such as Overtown, Coconut Grove and Liberty City — which was called the Central Negro District. Twenty-five years later, in 1985, Dickson became Miami’s first black police chief, and he served until his retirement in 1989. He discussed his history with the force in a May interview with WLRN.
On Saturday afternoon, Dickson was among the recipients of the first First Five Pioneer Award, given by the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association, in conjunction with the Black Police Precinct and Courthouse Museum. The ceremony took place at the museum.
Each honoree was recognized for their contribution to the inclusion and advancement of African-American police officers and support staff in the City of Miami Police Department.
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“It was a long road,” Dickson, 82, told the Herald in May. “It is kind of hard to put that in to perspective. It was a natural transition for me. The way I was working and the positions that I held … I was not surprise when I made chief. I really expected to climb that ladder after I became a lieutenant. When I reached the rank of lieutenant, I realized then that I could be chief.”
Other honorees Saturday included:
Retired Lieutenant Archie McKay, City of Miami Police Department.
Retired Lieutenant Otis Davis, City of Miami Police Department.
Carolyn Pates, City of Miami’s first black Dispatcher.
Retired Asst. Chief Police Carolyn Clarke, City of Miami Police Department.
Retired Lieutenant Walter Hardemon, City of Miami Police Department.