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First African-American Arlington police officer lauded by legislature

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.