Bishop Robinson (police officer)

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Bishop L. Robinson
BornJanuary 16, 1927
DiedJanuary 6, 2014(2014-01-06) (aged 86)
Police career
CountryUnited States
DepartmentBaltimore Police Department
Service years1952–1987
RankSworn in as an Officer – 1952
Baltimore Police Sergeant Insignia.svg
– Sergeant – 1964
US-O1 insignia.svg
– Lieutenant – 1969
Captain insignia gold.svg
– Captain – 1971
US-O4 insignia.svg
– Major – 1973
US-O5 insignia.svg
– Lieutenant Colonel – 1974
Colonel Gold-vector.svg
– Colonel – 1975
3 Gold Stars.svg
– Deputy Commissioner – 1978
4 Gold Stars.svg
– Commissioner – 1984

Bishop Lee Robinson (January 16, 1927 – January 6, 2014), was the first African American police commissioner of Baltimore, Maryland. He was the police commissioner from 1984 until 1987.


A graduate of Douglass High School, Coppin State University and the University of Baltimore school of law,[1] Robinson joined the department in 1952, earned the rank of sergeant in 1964, Lieutenant in 1969, Captain in 1971, Major in 1973, Lt. Colonel in 1974, Colonel in 1975, Deputy Commissioner of Operations in 1978[2] and Commissioner in 1984. Robinson also represented the Baltimore Police Department in the founding of NOBLE, a national organization of African American police officers from various American cities in 1976,[3] and rose to the rank of commissioner in 1984.[4]

For Robinson's first 14 years in the department until 1966, African American officers were quarantined in rank, not allowed to patrol in white neighborhoods, and barred from the use of squad cars[5] during a time period where the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, and Black Power movements took place. Robinson was elevated to the command of Commissioner in a department long dominated by Irish American officers and briefly dominated by Italian American officers[6] as a means of giving African American officers control of the department as Baltimore City became solidly Majority African American.[7]

Following his service as Baltimore Police Commissioner, he served as Secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services from 1987 to 1997 in the Cabinet of Governors William Donald Schaefer and Parris Glendening. Despite the urging of Schaefer, Robinson opted not to run for Mayor of Baltimore in the 1999 mayoral election.[8] He subsequently served as Secretary of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Justice in the Cabinet of Governor Glendenning from 2000 to 2003.[9]

Robinson died on January 6, 2014 at the age of 86. He had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease.[10]


  1. ^ University of Baltimore School of Law alumni"When it's Broken, You've Got to Fix It". Archived from the original on 2012-02-16.
  2. ^ "Deputy Police Commissioner Robinson gets down to work".
  3. ^ NOBLE National "Founding Members of NOBLE". Archived from the original on 2007-06-12.
  4. ^ WJZ News Online "Baltimore Renames City Police Headquarters". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27.
  5. ^ Simon, David (2006) [1991]. "two". Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets (4th ed.). Owl Books. p. 111. ISBN 0-8050-8075-9. black officers were still prohibited from riding in radio cars-legally prohibited.... limited in rank, then quarantined on foot posts in the slums or used in the fledging narcotics unit. On the street, they endured the silence of white colleagues; in the station house they were insulted by racial remarks at roll calls and shift changes.
  6. ^ Simon, David (2006) [1991]. "One". Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets (4th ed.). Owl Books. p. 39. ISBN 0-8050-8075-9. D'Addario is one of the last survivors of the Italian caliphate that briefly ruled the department after a long Irish dynasty.....But the Holy Roman Empire lasted less than four years.
  7. ^ Simon, David (2006) [1991]. "One". Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets (4th ed.). Owl Books. pp. 29–30. ISBN 0-8050-8075-9. the mayor acknowledged the city's changing demographics by dragging Battaglia into a well paid consultant position and giving the black community a firm lock on the upper tiers of the police department.
  8. ^ Penn, Ivan (June 25, 1999). "Robinson decides: mayoral run is out: Former police chief calls his decision `a personal matter'". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  9. ^ Bishop L. Robinson-Maryland State Archives
  10. ^ Rasmussen, Frederick N. (January 6, 2014). "Bishop Lee Robinson Sr., city's first black police commissioner, dies at 86". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 6 January 2014.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Frank Battaglia
Baltimore Police Department Commissioner
Succeeded by
Edward Tilghman