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Floyd Powell

Floyd Powell was born in Crescent, Oklahoma on October 28, 1946. Shortly after his birth, his family relocated to Wichita, Kansas. Powell attended Isley Elementary School, Roosevelt Middle School and graduated from Wichita's East High School in 1964. He received his degree in Police Science from Wichita State University in 1972.

In 1966, following two years at Friends University in Wichita, Powell worked for the Boeing Corporation. He left Boeing in 1968, to pursue a career in law enforcement. During his twenty-one year career with the Wichita Police Department, he became the first African American to serve as Chief of Police. His tenure as police chief was marked by a commitment to community involvement and victim outreach. Powell worked hard to build bridges between the police force and the city's minority communities. He developed special community action teams to work with officers addressing problems in low- income neighborhoods. One of his pet projects, the Teddy Bear Program, was directed at assisting the youngest victims of crime. Through this program, officers worked to comfort child victims with teddy bears. He also aggressively worked to increase minority recruitment for the department. Powell retired from the police force in 1989. That same year, he took a position as manager with his former employer Boeing.

Powell serves as the Funding Board of Director vice-president for the Boys and Girls Club of South Central Kansas. He is a father of four and resides in Wichita with his wife, Shirley.

Accession Number

A2002.177

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/27/2002

Last Name

Powell

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

East High School

William H. Isely Elementary School

Roosevelt Junior High School

Speakers Bureau

No

First Name

Floyd

Birth City, State, Country

Crescent

HM ID

POW02

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

Speaker Bureau Notes

Wife was ill at the time he declined (2003).

State

Oklahoma

Favorite Vacation Destination

Harrah's Casinos

Favorite Quote

Treat People The Way You Want To Be Treated.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Kansas

Interview Description
Birth Date

10/28/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Wichita

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Steak

Short Description

Police chief Floyd Powell (1946 - ) was the first African American Chief of Police in Witchita, Kansas.

Employment

Boeing Company

Wichita Police Department

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/69850">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Floyd Powell's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/69851">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Floyd Powell lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/69852">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Floyd Powell describes his parents, Mattie Joe and Leslie Powell</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/69853">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Floyd Powell describes his paternal family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/69854">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Floyd Powell describes his mother's background and his siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/69855">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Floyd Powell talks about the background of his name</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/69856">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Floyd Powell describes the sights, smells, and sounds of his childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/69857">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Floyd Powell describes himself as a student at W.H. Isley Elementary School and Roosevelt Junior High School in Wichita, Kansas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/69858">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Floyd Powell talks about his interest in sports at Roosevelt Junior High School and East Senior High School in Wichita, Kansas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/70190">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Floyd Powell describes his teachers at East High School in Wichita, Kansas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/70191">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Floyd Powell describes attending Wichita State University, Kansas, in 1964</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/70192">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Floyd Powell talks about joining the Wichita, Kansas Police Department in 1968</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/70193">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Floyd Powell describes the relationship between the Wichita, Kansas Police Department and the black community when he joined in 1968</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/70194">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Floyd Powell talks about his experience as a rookie police officer in the Wichita, Kansas Police Department in the late 1960s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/70195">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Floyd Powell talks about being discouraged from sitting for promotional exams as an African American at the Wichita, Kansas Police Department</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/70196">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Floyd Powell describes rising through the ranks at the Wichita, Kansas Police Department in the 1970s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/70197">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Floyd Powell talks about being the only black officer in the command section of the Wichita, Kansas Police Department</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/70198">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Floyd Powell describes the discrimination black officers faced when being passed over for promotions at the Wichita, Kansas Police Department in the 1970s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/69566">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Floyd Powell talks about serving as Captain in the Wichita Kansas Police Department and having the opportunity to hire and promote minorities</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/69567">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Floyd Powell describes community policing while serving as Captain of the Baker One District in the Wichita, Kansas Police Department</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/69568">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Floyd Powell talks about the Wichita, Kansas Police Department's community partners</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/69569">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Floyd Powell talks about the challenges of being a minority in the Wichita, Kansas Police Department while he was District Captain</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/69570">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Floyd Powell talks about developing relationship with the black community in Northeast Wichita, Kansas as a Captain in the Wichita Police Department</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/69571">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Floyd Powell talks about his promotion to become the first black Major in the Wichita, Kansas Police Department</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/69572">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Floyd Powell describes being appointed Deputy Chief of Police and Chief of Police of the Wichita, Kansas Police Department in 1989</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/69573">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Floyd Powell describes the black community's reaction when he was removed as Chief of Police</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/69574">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Floyd Powell describes the rise of drug crimes during the 1980s in Wichita, Kansas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/70199">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Floyd Powell talks about developing community programs with the Northeast community of Wichita, Kansas at the Police Department</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/70200">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Floyd Powell talks about policing "party houses" in the Northeast neighborhood in Wichita, Kansas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/70201">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Floyd Powell describes the issues of instituting community policing programs in Wichita, Kansas in the 1980s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/70202">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Floyd Powell talks about the relationship of the beat officer to community policing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/70203">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Floyd Powell describes his work for the Boeing Company after his retirement from the Wichita, Kansas Police Department in 1989</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/70204">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Floyd Powell talks about his family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/70205">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Floyd Powell describes his hopes and concerns for the black community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/70206">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Floyd Powell reflects on the changing black community in Wichita, Kansas during his tenure with the Wichita Police Department from 1968 to 1989</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/70207">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Floyd Powell reflects upon his legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/72419">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Floyd Powell reflects on how he wants to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/72420">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Floyd Powell describes the dangers of being a police officer</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/72421">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Floyd Powell narrates his photographs, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/72422">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Floyd Powell narrates his photographs, pt. 2</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$2

DAStory

2$6

DATitle
Floyd Powell describes community policing while serving as Captain of the Baker One District in the Wichita, Kansas Police Department
Floyd Powell talks about being discouraged from sitting for promotional exams as an African American at the Wichita, Kansas Police Department
Transcript
--the districts--Baker One was a district that was--had a lot of problems, lots of problems. And we got to do and I got to do a lot of things in Baker One. And I said we started our, our field office, which is like community policing today. We started our first one. We went and got some realtor signs and painted them and stuff (laughter) and put Baker One out there, and put a badge on it, and went and got one of our other guys, Charlie Franklin, who used to be downtown. And he was kind of like the community officer for downtown business district, and brought him out there. And, and people would come through, and can you sign this tag light off, or I wanna know about this--and wasn't the best setup because it was in a, it was in a, a junior high school that, that was basically closed except for some minor things. Mathewson [Junior High School, Wichita, Kansas] at that point was the same old Mathewson, but they closed it, then we just had some community things in it. So they gave us the space, and we did those kind of things. But we brought, we brought those concepts to the Baker One, neighborhood watch kind of things. We started those things back when, and I'm--I laugh today when I see those things coming back. And I'm going--but we did it a little bit differently. In community policing today, you just have a community policing officer who's really never been a policeman or a police officer. And-$$So (unclear) not functioning at the, at the--(simultaneous)-$$That's right. He's never been through all of those things, or she's never been through all those things. So they're out doing their thing trying to get money and stuff, but we were a combination of your beat officer and, and, and the supervisor, and whatever it takes for that area. And I didn't care whether or not you wanted to get out or not, if it was your district and you were having burglaries and whatever else. And we would make up fliers and things, and we would go knock on people's doors. And they used to do stories about us in the--(unclear)--hearing stuff about us out trying to, trying to protect and serve and do those things. And we would do those, and we would organize cleanups.$--Were there very many college educated police officers then?$$No, there weren't. They were starting to go--we would get off from third shift, and we'd go up to the university during those, those times. And you'd--there'd be several of us in different kind of classes, taking those because the government was paying for it to say that we got the educations. And so were really starting to get those kind of degrees and stuff. We were working toward 'em, taking those kind of classes and things and really trying to--trying, trying to do those things. But I noticed--and then the, the, the people that I came on with and my friends, they all left. So there really wasn't anyone there--a couple, a couple of older folks that really had gone to the top of where they could based on the constraints and stuff that was put on, based upon their education, based upon how people had saw them come to the police department of where they thought their level was. And I said I don't want to be stigmatized or labeled in a certain kind of way because I could be better. I'm gonna get an education. And the second thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna sit for these [promotional] tests. And I noticed the--there was nobody that would sit for the tests. And I'm going, "Why don't you guys sit for the tests?" And they wouldn't sit for the--well, you know, tests not gonna do that or I don't have enough education. You had to go sit for the promotional exams and things like that. And so that used to be really troubling. That used to be one of the big things that I, that I used to say is that, that the, the minorities would not go sit for the tests. And they had every excuse in the world not to go sit for the tests or they wanted to be handed something that was maybe softer, cushier without going through all the (laughter), the heartburn to go do it. And so that's, that's something I guess you could sit and debate with some of 'em, but I noticed that they didn't really do that. Subsequently, they, some of 'em eventually did, but early on, you couldn't get people to sit for tests and, and so there was never anybody to be promoted because nobody ever sat for the tests. And it was really troubling to me about that.$$Were they discouraged in any way you think?$$I think maybe they were discouraged-$$What happened?$$I just--I, I, I just didn't understand why they wouldn't go sit for the tests or they wouldn't go ahead and pursue the education. And a lot of 'em pursued it, but they never got their degrees in police science basically, most of 'em. But they just, they just stopped from going, you know--why? I don't, I don't know why. But it was, it was an interesting time.