People outside the department and younger officers who have come on in the last few years won’t know the name but, just about anyone who served with the Houston Police Department prior to 2011 should know or at least know of Mr. Edward Thomas. Mr. Thomas is FINALLY receiving recognition by the Houston Police Department and the city. Mr. Edward Thomas was the longest serving officer with the Houston Police Department. He was also the oldest active officer in the country at the time of his retirement at age 91 and 65 years of service. He’s a WWII veteran who served in Normandy and was the first black officer hired by the Houston Police Department.
Mr. Thomas joined the Department in 1948 and was a mentor to a great many officers, especially the black officers who followed him, including my own father who joined in 1962. In those days, black officers were not allowed to drive department cars. They could not attend rollcall with white officers. They also could not eat with white officers at most public restaurants. Nor could they arrest a white person. And if they made an arrest, they had to board a city bus with their prisoner, and walk him into the jail themselves. Some of these policies were in place with the department all the way up to the mid 1970s. Times have changed for the better in many ways and the department is recognizing Mr. Thomas by asking City Council to rename the HPD headquarters at 1200 Travis in his honor.