When Charles Bradley moved from Southern California to Detroit when he was 12, the thought of becoming a police officer wasn’t on his radar just yet (<—-see what I did there?). In fact, it didn’t even cross his mind in high school or when he started college at Wayne State University for teaching. But one day he happened across an ad in the paper for the Detroit Police Department. It intrigued him enough that he decided to apply and was hired by the department in 1988.

1st year with RTPD

Though not entirely sure the job was a good fit for him at first, he became more confident during the police academy and was ready to rock upon graduation. After only 3 years with Detroit PD, a massive layoff announcement from Mayor Coleman Young devastated the city. With a $50-million budget deficit, 502 city employees were on the chopping block, which included 300 police officers.

As did most Detroit officers, Charles began applying with other agencies. Redford Twp gave him the good news he’d been hoping for, just 6 months after being laid-off.

“What you put out you get back”

Hired in under Chief Parker in September 1991, Charles didn’t know he was making history at the department until his 1st day on the job. The Chief called him into his office and let him know that if he needed anything his door was always open; as well as casually mentioning that he was Redford’s 1st black police officer. For a brief moment he remembered feeling like all eyes would be on him. But upon entering a packed roll call with not enough chairs, veteran officers offered him their seat so he didn’t have to be the new guy left standing. From day one, the whole department made him feel welcome.

The nearly all white community at the time was very welcoming as well. As a police officer first and foremost, business owners were appreciative of him. Even people he arrested would later thank him for the level of respect he showed while on the call. “What you put out you get back,” says Charles.

Charles retired in 2011, spending 20 years with Redford PD and a total of 23 years as a police officer. During his career with the Township, he was the only black male that served as an officer. Check out his impressive resume:

  • Year 1: Undercover narcotics
  • Years 2-5: Road patrolman
  • Years 6-11: Traffic bureau, promoted to Sergeant in year 11
  • Years 11-13: Traffic Sergeant
  • Years 13-15: Detective Bureau
  • Years 15-18: State Police Auto Theft Task Force
  • Years 19-20: Promoted to Lieutenant, Road Patrol
  • Member of the Honor Guard for 6 years

He also received a degree in criminal justice from Wayne State University and developed life-long friendships at the department, citing fellow officers Larry LaFond & Kraig Brueck as his biggest mentors.

A huge thank you to Charles for proudly serving Redford for 2 decades! Your positive spirit surely made an impact in the community.


One thought on “Black History Month in Redford: Charles Bradley (The First Black Police Officer)

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