Leroy Stover

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Leroy Stover

Leroy Stover (born c. 1934 in Dallas County; died November 2, 2023 in Birmingham) was the first African-American to serve as an officer of the Birmingham Police Department.

Stover grew up in Dallas County, was valedictorian of his 1952 class at Shiloh High School in Selma, and editor of the school newspaper. He joined the U.S. Army and served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Although that division was held in reserve during the Korean War, Stover was sent overseas as part of the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team in 1953. After his discharge he came to Birmingham and was employed as a truck driver for a construction firm.

Stover was hired in 1966 and reported for duty on March 30 of that year. He was shunned and verbally abused by other officers, and generally had one side of the department's briefing room to himself as the 70 or so white officers crowded into seats on the other side. Chief Jamie Moore assigned older personnel to guard his safety. Stover's partner refused to drive him to his beat, so he took the bus. One of his first investigative assignments was to go undercover to investigate illegal shot houses. Someone with access to his personnel files distributed his photograph to the shot house owners beforehand, in an apparent attempt to place him in danger.

Stover survived the ordeal and, after being transferred to the West Precinct, earned more respect from fellow officers. When he was barred from borrowing study materials for advancement tests, his fellow officers checked them out in their names so that he could use them. He advanced to sergeant in four years, then lieutenant, and then captain. He went on to complete a bachelor's degree in criminal justice at UAB. He was promoted as far as Deputy Chief by Johnnie Johnson Jr before retiring from the department in 1998.

In March 2015 the new building for the Birmingham Police Department West Precinct office at Five Points West was dedicated in honor of Stover.

References