Governor, Mayor, Batts Eulogize Bishop Robinson
January 18, 2014
Funeral services took place Saturday for Bishop Robinson, the first African American police commissioner of Baltimore City, who later served as a cabinet secretary for two Maryland governors.
Robinson died on January 6, after a long illness at the age of 86.
Hundreds packed the physical education complex at Coppin State University for the memorial service.
Governor Martin O'Malley, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts spoke at the service.
In her eulogy, Rawlings-Blake described Robinson as, " a man who should be remembered for tearing down barriers, by climbing his way to the top of an organization that historically treated African Americans with disrespect and derision. Commissioner Robinson's palpable presence made him a force to be reckoned with."
Robinson joined the Baltimore City Police Department as a patrol officer in 1952, in an era when the city had few black police officers. At the time, black officers were not allowed to arrest whites, patrol in white neighborhoods, or even ride in patrol cars.
Baltimore City State Senator Nathaniel McFadden, who had known Robinson for more than 40 years, said Robinson broke many barriers for black officers.
"He was the Jackie Robinson if you will, for blacks in the police department in the city of Baltimore," McFadden told WBAL News.
As a result of the civil rights movement, Robinson rose through the ranks of the police department. McFadden said that after William Donald Schaefer was elected mayor in 1971, community leaders in East Baltimore, concluding Councilman Clarence DuBurns, convinced Schaefer to appoint Robinson the first black police commander in Baltimore City, leading the Eastern District.
In 1984, Schaefer named Robinson police commissioner.
After Schaefer became governor in 1987, he appointed Robinson to be Secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
Under Robinson, the department opened the Central Booking and Intake Center in Baltimore.
When he became governor in 1995, Parris Glendening named Robinson the Secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice. He served in that post until 1997.
Robinson was one of the founding members of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE).
In 2007, the annex of the Baltimore City Police headquarters was named for Robinson.
"I sit here in this position as a result of his strong leadership as a trailblazer. I'm humbled by this giant of a man, a police leader," Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said of Robinson.
Batts also told WBAL News that he regretted never having met Robinson.
"For me it's like not having had the chance to meet Martin Luther King. These are iconic giants that have made giant strides, in the things that we have done."
Robinson was buried in Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.