First black officer who retired from Kalamazoo PD gets posthumous promotion

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Sgt. Robert 'Al' Goodwin

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — In honor of Black History Month, The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety has posthumously promoted the first African-American officer to retire from the department .

Public Safety Officer Robert “Al” Goodwin was born Oct. 2, 1921 and passed away on Nov. 27, 1997.  He served the department from 1951-1976.  In January, Goodwin was posthumously promoted to the title of Sergeant at a special ceremony.  Sgt. Goodwin’s widow, Juanita Goodwin, was presented with a letter and custom plaque from Chief Jeff Hadley on January 23, her 90th birthday.  The formal acknowledgement of Sgt. Goodwin’s promotion will be on Monday, February 15.

Chief Hadley’s letter to Goodwin is presented in its entirety below:

Mrs. Goodwin and Family:

It is my sincere pleasure and honor to inform you that the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, in memory of your late husband Robert “Al” Goodwin, will posthumously promote him to the rank of Sergeant for his 25 years of dedicated service to this community, and as the first African-American to retire from the Kalamazoo Police Department, having done so in 1976.

Sergeant Al Goodwin’s contributions to this community and the Kalamazoo Police Department were many. To list a few of Sergeant Goodwin’s initiatives that he specifically had his hands in the creation of and/or facilitation of:

Improvement to the Speakers Bureau –Sergeant Goodwin spoke to civic groups, as well as high school and college students, about the operations and limitations of the police.

Office of Community Relations – established in 1967, Sergeant Goodwin was tasked with handling the responsibilities therein. Under his leadership, the following programs were implemented:

  1. Citizen Complaint Office
  2. Citizen’s Watch Program
  3. Ride-a-long Program
  4. Youth Group
  5. Summer Camp for Youth

Most of these initiatives still exist today which is a testimonial to Sergeant Goodwin’s impact and fingerprint on this organization some 40 years since he retired.

Personally I know this token of appreciation falls short of adequately recognizing Sergeant Goodwin’s struggles, experience and most importantly dedicated Public Service to the City of Kalamazoo. However it is well deserved and long overdue! Congratulations to you, Mrs. Goodwin and best wishes to you and your family from the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety.

Sincerely,

Chief Jeffrey M. Hadley

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