BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Leroy Stover was an American patriot as well as an Alabama police officer. The native of Dallas County, Alabama was the City of Birmingham’s first black police officer after he served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Stover passed away Thursday at the age of 90.
Stover was the valedictorian of his graduating class at Shiloh High School in Selma in 1952. Following high school, he joined the U.S. Army and became a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne. In the final year of the Korean War in 1952-53, he was with the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, reported AL.com.
Stover worked as a truck driver for a period of time before he continued in public service and joined the Birmingham Police Department on March 30, 1966 at the age of 33. He rose through the ranks to become a deputy chief before retiring in 1998 as a 32-year law enforcement veteran.
On Friday, the Birmingham Police Department announced Stover’s death, according to the news outlet.
“Today, our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of former Deputy Chief Leroy Stover. As the first black officer to integrate the Birmingham force, his legacy and work at the Birmingham Police Department paved a way for others to follow in his footsteps,” the department said. “We offer our full condolences to the family and know that he will forever be in our hearts and mind.”
Leroy Stover (Amazon)
Stover endured a hostile reaction his first day on the job as a police officer, he once told the Birmingham Post-Herald, according to AL.com.
“I was taken through the basement of City Hall by armed security officers because there was a crowd of people outside,” Stover told the newspaper when he retired. “When I came into roll call, there was probably about 70 white officers in the room and some of them verbalized the ‘N’ word. They all moved to the other side of the room. I had one side of the room all to myself.”
While reflecting on his trailblazing career in 2021, the Birmingham Police Department quoted Stover as saying, “You live right, you treat people right, right will follow you.”