Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Retired detective solved violent murders, faced discrimination

This month's Informant newsletter features an article about a 91-year-old retired KCPD detective who joined the police department before the civil rights movement. Lloyd DeGraffenreid has come back into the spotlight recently for his work on the case of slain civil rights leader Leon Jordan, who was killed in 1970 and whose case we recently re-opened. Check out his story:

An undated personnel photo of Lloyd DeGraffenreid Sr.

At 91 years old, Retired Detective Sergeant Lloyd DeGraffenreid Sr. has retained his sharp memory.

He worked hundreds of cases during his 30 years at the Kansas City Missouri Police Department, and the memory of the 1970 murder of politician Leon Jordan has stayed with him.

“The most memorable case was one I didn’t solve,” Retired Detective Sergeant DeGraffenreid said.

DeGraffenreid joined the police department in 1948, after he had just moved to Kansas City from North Carolina to be with family.

“The Police Department had an advertisement that they needed some negro police officers, so I took the test and passed it,” he said.

A native of South Carolina, DeGraffenreid had a bachelor’s degree from Benedict College and had served five years in the Army as a Sergeant during World War II. He had been teaching at a high school in North Carolina, but the idea of joining the Kansas City Missouri Police Department appealed to him.

“I had spent some time in the army as a military policeman, and I liked it,” he said.

He was promoted to Detective in 1969 and soon was promoted to Detective Sergeant in 1972. There he worked in the Homicide Unit, which he said was the highlight of his career.

“People were just killing each other for nothing,” he said. “It kept me pretty busy, and it was interesting.”

He said he had good partners during his time in the Homicide Unit—first Detective Sylvester Young Sr. and later he worked with Detective Gene Buie.

“We knew practically everybody in town,” DeGraffenreid said. “We knew all the places we could go to get information and solved a lot of cases.”

But after working on the Leon Jordan case for two years, DeGraffenreid took a break from detective work and worked as a Sherriff for the Jackson County Jail for three years.

He went back to his detective work at the Kansas City Police Department in 1975 and retired six years later after 30 years of service.

DeGraffenreid recently returned to the police headquarters at the March 23 Board of Police Commissioners Meeting, when former police officer Alvin Brooks was sworn in as a new Police Commissioner.

DeGraffenreid had served as Commissioner Brooks’ training supervisor when Brooks first joined the department in 1954. The two had remained friends ever since.

“He was an excellent detective and a good mentor,” Brooks said.

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