Miami Beach police honor first black policeman

James 'Smitty' Smith

The Miami Beach Police Department paid tribute to the city’s first black police officer, James “Smitty” Smith. To the city, he was Major James W. Smith.

Officers and family members joined together Wednesday for the renaming of the Miami Beach Police Department’s community room in Smith’s honor.

Smith was remembered as the epitome of a gentleman and a man who respected everyone in his community.

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When Smith enlisted in 1964, he caught the public’s eye for his skin color. Smith was Miami Beach’s first black officer during a soon-to-be integrated but racially-tense America.

Smith served in the Miami Beach Police Department until 1990, when he retired. He climbed the ranks as sergeant in 1971, lieutenant in 1975 and major in 1989.

Smith died Jan. 31 at the age of 87.



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