Pictured above (left to right): The late Deputies Sheriff Fortune Crowder and Willie Perkins, Sheriff Gerald Robinson; former Deputy Sheriff, Sergeant Jametta Harper
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Major Lafayette Woods, Jr.
Operation Commander/Public Information Officer
89 YEARS OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY IN THE JEFFERSON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Jefferson County, Arkansas – February 12, 2016 - The men and women of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) proudly commemorate and celebrate National African-American History Month. We salute the brave men and women of African descent whose actions and achievements contributed to the advancement of the nation’s and Jefferson Counties’ history. This month we celebrate 89 years of African-Americans in the JCSO. Throughout our history, African-Americans have helped shape the Office of the Sheriff into what it is today. From the first African-American Deputy Sheriff hired in 1927, Lustachia Browder followed by the late Deputy Sheriff Fortune Crowder hired in 1941 and Willie Perkins in 1953 to the first African-American elected to the Office of Sheriff in 2006, Sheriff Gerald Robinson; African-American’s influence is woven into the fabric of our organization.
Fortune Crowder (39), was the first African-American JCSO Deputy Sheriff killed in the Line of Duty on October 5, 1953. Deputy Crowder was shot and killed in an ambush while driving home from an investigation. Deputy Crowder death came as the result of his relentless efforts to combat bootlegging in Jefferson County, AR. A suspect was arrested but charges were said to have been dropped due to lack of evidence. Deputy Crowder had served with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office for 12 years. He was survived by his wife.
Lustachia Browder (67), the second African-American to die in the line of duty was killed on September 15, 1957 after being stabbed and shot with his own service weapon. Deputy Browder and other deputies had raided a nightclub the previous night but one of the suspects had evaded capture. He was attempting to arrest that suspect but the man stabbed him in the chest during the arrest. The man then gained control of Deputy Browder's service weapon and shot him twice, killing him. The suspect fled the scene but turned himself in later that day.
In 1995, Jametta Harper became JCSO’s first female and African-American Deputy Sheriff.
In 2007, Tyra Tyler became the first African-American female major and asst. jail administrator assigned to oversee operations at the sheriff’s office 315-bed W.C. “Dub” Brassell Adult Detention Center erected the same year. Also, in 2007, Dr. Stephen Broughton was deputized and appointed to serve as the agencies first on-staff African-American psychiatrist in the history of the JCSO and State of Arkansas. In 2007, Part-Time II Deputy Lafayette Woods, Sr. and then Part-Time II Deputy Sheriff Anthony Craig, who was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2015 were appointed by Sheriff Robinson to serve as the agencies’ first African-American chaplains. Although the contributions and accomplishments of African-Americans in the JCSO are many, the plight to cement their place in the history of our organization did not come without historic barriers. Two examples of this are Bernard Adams, the agencies first African-American captain, and Columbus Holmes, the agencies first African-American lieutenant.
In 2009, Kaleisha Wise became the first African-American female criminal investigator and in 2010, Lafayette Woods, Jr. became the first African-American male major in the history of the agency, where he also serves as the agencies first African-American public information officer or spokesperson. Today African-Americans can be found throughout the JCSO’s rank and file. From Sheriff Gerald Robinson to the newest hires, African-Americans are a part of this agencies rich history. We take the time in February to celebrate this history and to look forward to another 89 years of African-Americans in JCSO brown.