Alabama town mourns loss of law officer whose career broke color barriers
Published 5:08 pm Monday, April 24, 2023
An Alabama town is mourning the loss of a former police chief who broke color barriers throughout his law enforcement career.
The first African-American Police Chief in the City of Selma passed away on Sunday.
Earnest L. Tate, who became city’s first black police chief in 1997, died Sunday. Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date.
Former Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson remembers Tate as a great officer.
“Tate was a great chief,” Jackson said. “Selma’s police Department was at one of its strongest points during his leadership. He was a great teacher for the officers. He was kind of like a coach whose assistant coaches went to be great head coaches.”
Tate moved to Selma in 1957 and was hired by the SPD as the department’s fourth black officer; he was promoted to sergeant in 1971 and then to lieutenant in 1977; by 1994, he was promoted to shift commander and, a year later, to assistant chief before becoming chief.
“Chief Tate was a great man who made history by becoming the first African-American man police chief for the city of Selma.” Selma Police Chief Kenta Fulford said. “That paved the way for others like myself to reach that level. I didn’t get a chance to work with him, but he always encouraged me to stick with it and to do the best job that I could. The Selma Police Department earns the loss of this icon.”
Cole Street was renamed Earnest L. Tate Street on February 11, 2020.