Story Walk: swore

Story Walk: "swore"

First African-American Police Office in Rochester by Charles Price


Charles Price: After we get our uniforms and had a little training, they said, they swore us all in at one time, I think there were six of us, I got a picture of us, I’m still the only African-American at that time. When I was coming up, it was “colored,” so I was the first “colored” police officer in the police department. Just a regular Rochester hot, August or July afternoon, in the evening, and the Rev. Brooks had petitioned the city to block off Nassau Street for a block party for his church, which was going on very, very nicely, shall I say, until one individual who happened to have had too much to drink that night, started bothering people. Rev. Brooks called for the police department to come and have him taken away. And there was a so-called scuffle, they had to put him in a car and take him away, well that started a riot. I reported into the station headquarters and they told me what was going on and then I went over to Joseph Avenue. I was a Detective Sergeant, plain clothes. I could walk up and down Joseph Avenue and I could see the people, some of them hanging out of the windows, I could see where they broke glass in the storefronts and all like that, then there was this story that we had the dogs out.  The police dogs. Well, I checked the records, and at that time there was no police canine unit working that night. Right after the main riot, shall we say, they call it the riot on Joseph Avenue, the next day I think it was, that the helicopter was flying over Clarissa Street area, and it crashed on a home and it killed some people in it and the helicopter pilot also. But it was right on the Clarissa Street area which was the other side of town, so now you got a riot on both sides of town. I got arrested about the day after because I was walking up, coming up Joseph Avenue, just walking up Joseph Avenue. The law at that time, they had passed this ordinance that nobody should be on the street at certain such and such a time. And here I come walking up the street, the State Trooper saw me, not knowing, and I said, okay, I just went along with him, because I wanted also to see the stories that okay, they beat you, they do this and they rough you up and all.   Did this happen to me? No. After the Command Headquarters all the guys say “Hey, Sarge, hey Sarge, what are you…? and the Trooper looked, “well, who are you?” “My name is Charlie Price.” “But they call you Sarge…” “Yes, I’m a Sergeant .” “You a police officer?” “Yup.” “Why didn’t you tell me?” “You didn’t ask me.” I didn’t blame him, he did his job.