Michigan’s first Black state trooper: ‘I just wanted to be an officer’

Former officer says last year’s protests were a step in the right direction

Michigan's first Black state trooper: 'I just wanted to be an officer'

GRAND LEDGE, Mich. – When it comes down to legacy, retired officer Jack Hall has left a footprint in Michigan history.

Hall was the first African American Michigan State Trooper. He’s retired now, but not too much has changed, at least from his perspective.

“I was really surprised when I found out I was going to be the first. It really didn’t mean much. I just wanted to be an officer,” Hall said.

He is a legend and still lives in Michigan. Hall spent nearly a quarter of a century serving with the Michigan State Police. He was the first, and for a while, the only officer of color when his career started in 1967.

“I thought that it was going to be a hostile work environment,” Hall said.

Hall said it turned out to be the opposite. He developed a bond with his fellow officers in the academy. During that same year, they would all find themselves in Detroit following historic riots.

READ: Stories from the 1967 Detroit Riots

“My recruit school was doing the Detroit riots in 1967. We cleaned up after the troops there at the armory,” Hall said.

So much has changed since Hall retired in 1992. He said one thing has remained constant.

“The problem we’re running into is that what has happened over the years .... Police officers are not accountable for what they do,” Hall said.

He said the protests that took place last year are a step in the right direction.

READ: Detroit protest leaders list 11 demands ahead of meeting with mayor, police chief

“If a police officer makes a mistake, you can live with that. But when a police officer does something that seems to be deliberate -- He’s got to do some jail time,” Hall said.

While Hall will leave behind an everlasting legacy. He said it doesn’t mean that much to him in his mind.

“I never thought it of being anything. I just wanted to be the best,” Hall said.

Since retiring, Hall has been enjoying his retirement with his wife Effie in Grand Ledge.

READ: More Black History Month coverage

About the Author:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.