Manassas' First Black Officer Recounts 50 Years of Service

Glendell Hill is now the sheriff of Prince William County

Fifty years ago, Glendell Hill became the first black police officer for the predominately white Manassas City Police Department. Since then, he's served his community, breaking barriers and inspiring a new generation of police officers.

"There were no black employees that worked for the town at all," Hill said.

He said because of his race he couldn't find a place to live in Manassas City, Virginia, when he began as a police officer in 1969.

"There was still segregation at the time and I could only live a couple places in Manassas," Hill said.

Decades later, Hill has served as the sheriff for Prince William County for 15 years. In addition to being the first black officer and sheriff for the area, he is the first black person elected to a county-wide position.

Cpt. Tina Laguna credits him for opening doors for a new generation of police officers, including herself.

"Hearing about this man and the things he did, and knowing the barriers he had to break, and the path he had to go through," she said. "And then, so many years later, I come through and I'm at the same police department."

Laguna is the first assistant chief of the Manassas Police Department and the first black woman to rise to the second highest position in the department. The same position Hill started 50 years ago.

Hill said in order to break racial barriers, he had to be the best police officer he could be.

"When you help people, they will never forget you," Hill said. "They don't care about what color you are or where you come from."

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