FBINAA - May 2022 catalog

Lloyd George Sealy: Police Professional and Scholar Cindy Reed THE HISTORIAN'S SPOTLIGHT

I t is always interesting to learn more about our fellow National Academy graduates, and even more impressive to see those from the “Double-Digit” era who were ground-breakers in two careers. Lloyd George Sealy from Session 72 (1973) was one of those. As a member of the New York City Police Department and as a Professor at John Jay College, Lloyd Sealy was a pioneer who blazed many paths and achieved great recognition in his life, yet always downplayed his own success. He understood that along with the individual, the group and society as a whole had to advance if America was to fulfill its historic destiny. Lloyd George Sealy was born in Manhattan in 1917 and grew up in the Prospect Heights Section of Brooklyn. His parents were natives of Barbados, and his father worked as the janitor of an apartment building. After completing Thomas Jefferson High School, Lloyd became a police officer in November 1942. While working full time, he earned his bachelor's degree in sociology from Brooklyn College in 1946 and then his law degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1952. When Sealy joined the police department in the early 1940s, New York City and the nation were very different places from what they are today. In the early 1940s, America was battling in World War II to defeat fascism and Nazism. One of the great ironies of that war was that it was fighting for freedom and democracy with segregated armed forces. In those days, schools, public accommodations, restaurants, swimming pools, public transportation, and virtually every other aspect of public life were segregated by law throughout the South and the border states. In the North and West, African-Americans and whites remained separated in different schools, distinct neighborhoods, and segregated jobs by both custom and intimidation. Baseball, the national pastime, and every other professional sport banned African-American athletes from competing. Not until 1947 would Jackie Robinson break the color barrier in sports. The police force that Sealy joined was integrated, but only nominally. Even though NYPD was the largest police department in the nation, no more than one or two African-American officers a year were appointed during the 1930s, and it was rare for them to be promoted to the rank of sergeant. In 1942, Sealy was one of 20 African-American officers in their class, the largest number in a class until that time. It was also the first year that Black officers were assigned to the Bronx and Washington Heights rather than to precincts in Harlem and Bedford Stuyvesant. Not deterred by meager opportunities for Black officers Sealy took the exams and was promoted to sergeant in 1951 and to lieutenant in 1959. In 1962 he was promoted to Captain, only the second Black to com - mand a precinct. One year after that, he was selected to attend Session 72, which graduated November 1963. A few months after his graduation, national events in the summer of 1964 required that Sealy bring his talents and training into high relief. When civil rights workers James Chaney , Andrew Goodman , and Michael Schwerner were slain in Mississippi, Harlem exploded in riot and rage over the killing of a junior high school student by police in East Harlem. One of the major com - plaints of the residents and community leaders was that white

police officers used excessive force in their interactions with Black citizens and in general harassed and demeaned members of the community. Civil rights groups in New York demanded that these charges be investigated. In partial response to these de- mands, Police Commissioner Michael J. Murphy appointed Sealy to command the 28th precinct. Thus, he became the first African- American to command a precinct in Harlem. The New York Times reported that when Sealy arrived at the precinct to take over command, "he was greeted by seven community leaders with smiles, handshakes and high praise." (1) Sealy's promotion was the culmination of decades of efforts by African-American police officers to overcome the discriminatory treatment they received at the hands of white supervisors in assignment, promotion, and disciplinary procedures. Sealy saw that his mission in Harlem and throughout New York City was to bring people together. When he was appointed to command the 28th precinct, he explained that he sought to reduce tensions by helping the Harlem community and the police officers who patrolled it to see each other as individuals not unlike themselves. Sealy recalled that in the aftermath of the Harlem riot, he intended "to explain to the Negro groups the role of the policeman and why he is here." At the same time, he talked with the officers in his precinct, intending to show the police that "this is a community of decent people with the same values and same standards as any other community, people who strongly resent any implication that they don't have these values." (2) Sealy played a crucial role as conciliator and peacemaker during the tumultuous 1960s. In 1966, he became the first Black Assistant Chief Inspector and the first Black Commander of the Brooklyn North Patrol Service Area, which encompassed 11 Brooklyn precincts. He was, thus, the most prominent and visible African-American police officer in New York. During the mid- 1960's, the nation was rocked by a series of rebellions in major cities that were tearing at the fabric of American life. In the words of the Kerner Commission Report , "This is our basic conclusion: Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white "separate and unequal." (3) John Lindsay , who had been elected mayor in 1965, was committed to social justice and to prevent - ing the kind of mass destruction that had accompanied the disorders in cities across the nation. In highly publicized visits to African- American communities to talk to residents, he frequent- ly had Lloyd Sealy with him, and in fact New York avoided the death and destruction that visited so many other American cities in those years.

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