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Inside NOVA: First African-American Arlington police officer lauded by legislature PDF Print E-mail

BY: Inside NOVA

Created: March 13, 2018

Members of the General Assembly took time during their 2018 legislative session to memorialize the life and legacy of Irving Comer, the first African-American sworn officer of the Arlington County Police Department.

Comer, a native of Richmond, died last November.

Comer had served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1963-67 and joined the ranks of the county’s police department in 1967 as a communications specialist. After just three months on the job, he was offered a post as a sworn officer.

Comer went on to serve with the department for nearly a quarter-century, serving in several specialties including a lengthy stint as school-resource officer at Thomas Jefferson Junior High School. He also was integral in the establishment of juvenile-delinquency-prevention and ride-along programs.

Comer was “a trail-blazing member of the [department] who selflessly served the community,” noted the resolution, patroned by Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48th) and approved by both houses of the legislature.

In the early 1980s, Comer was among a group of employees who filed a federal complaint against the Arlington County Police Department, alleging discrimination against African-American employees. In a settlement, the department agreed to increase promotions for minority staff members.

After his retirement in 1992, Comer later served as a part-time instructor at several community colleges across Virginia.