Bishop L. Robinson, Baltimore’s first African-American police commissioner, died Monday. He was 86.
Robinson joined the department in 1952 at a time when black officers were not allowed to patrol white neighborhoods or use patrol cars. He rose to serve as police commissioner from 1984 to 1987 under then Mayor William Donald Schaefer.
Current Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said he is in his position as a result of Robinson’s trailblazing leadership.
“We lost a true pioneer in the history of the Baltimore Police Department,” he said.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Robinson was a great friend she could rely on for advice.
“This is a man whose life should be celebrated for tearing down barriers by climbing his way to the top of an organization that historically treated African-Americans with disrespect and derision.”
City Council President Jack Young said Baltimore suffered “a deep loss” with Robinson’s death.
“Commissioner Robinson was a pioneer in the field of Public Safety and Baltimoreans benefited from his tireless efforts to improve out city,” he said.
Robinson served as Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services under Governors Schafer and Parris Glendening. He also served as Secretary of Juvenile Justice from 2000-2003.
The Baltimore Sun reported Robinson died of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. City police said funeral arrangements are pending.