Buffalo Police Department
History of Black Police Officers


The Buffalo Police Department's first black patrolman was George C. Sarsnett, 31 years old when appointed from a civil service list, on March 15, 1918. 


Patrolman Sarsnett was assigned patrol duty at Precinct 4, located at the time at 161 Sycamore Street, where he work his entire19 years on the department until his death, caused by pneumonia, at the age of 49 on February 9, 1937


The second black patrolman appointed, a year later, was 22 year old Oliver M. Bragg, also appointed from a civil service list, on July 18, 1919. Initially assigned to Precinct 4. 


Patrolman Bragg was promoted to Detective on January 31, 1946 and assigned to the detective bureau. 


Detective Bragg retired on January 1, 1962 with 43 year of service as a member of the Buffalo Police Department, he passed away at the age of 76 on June 5, 1974.


The Buffalo Police Department had only one active black member on the force from 1937 until1943 when, then Mayor of the City of Buffalo, Joseph J. Kelly called in members of the Civil Service Commission, and, then Buffalo Police Commissioner Charles E. Cannan (lt Richard Doyle's Grandfather), in to his office and insisted that African-Americans be certified for service in the Buffalo Police Department. 

Patrolman George C. Sarsnett

As a result of that meeting, 14 black temporary and special patrolmen and one policewoman were appointed to the department.


Most temporary patrolman appointed around 1942 had short careers and were dropped from the rolls as Buffalo policemen that had been on leave of absence from the department to joined the armed forces to fight in WWII returned to their police positions.


Most of the 14 black patrolmen were affected


Mayor Joseph J. Kelly

Commissioner Charles E. Cannan








Appointed February 29,1944
First Black Policewoman




Detective Sergeant James (Jimmie) E. Hunter

Appointed to the Buffalo Police department June 16, 1962
First Black Patrolman assigned to motorcycle squad
Promoted to Detective May 31, 1968 Assigned to the Homicide Squad 
Promoted to Detective Sergeant July 26, 1976
Retired July 14, 1982 

Detective Sergeant Hunter is doing well, traveling, and enjoying his retirement.

Donald R. Armstrong



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