By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
PALMYRA – Former Palmyra Police Chief Payton I. Flournoy, the first black police chief hired in the State of New Jersey, had a park formally dedicated to him on Saturday.
The former Grove Park was renovated by the city, with the help of a Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders grant. The park was officially renamed after the trailblazing police chief back in February.
A Palmyra native he was part of three championship football teams 1939, 1940 and 1941 and track teams in 1940, 1941 and 1942.
According to the Palmyra Historical Society, Flournoy enlisted with the Marines and then attended New York University. Following that, he was accepted into the Palmyra Police Department in 1950. He reached the sergeant’s raak in five years and was appointed chief in 1959.
“He was the first African-American to be appointed to Chief in Palmyra and the first in Burlington County. It is widely believed and yet to be disputed that Chief Flournoy was the first African-American Chief of Police in the United States,” a statement from the city said.
“Although this appointment was historically important, the appointment was made not to bring notoriety but to justly acknowledge the career and contributions of a fiercely dedicated yet humble Payton I. Flournoy, Sr.”
Before retiring in 1976, Flournoy was credited with supervising and modernizing the department’s facilities. He would later die at age 68.
Photo courtesy of City of Palmyra Historical Society
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