Captain Charlie Price: Rochester Loses A Legend…

LEGEND: pictured Charlie Price (center) with his wife Pauline right) and City of Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren (left) at the 200th Anniversary Police Event on December 19, 2019. Price was predeceased by his wife of 68 years last year. The couple had two daughters and four grandchildren. At 96 years old he was still volunteering in city schools. (Photo: City of Rochester)

Mayor Lovely Warren announced on Monday that Charles Henry “Charlie” Price, the first Black man to serve as a Rochester police officer, died  May 17 at the age of 98.

She released the following statement:

“I was filled with great sadness when I learned of the passing of retired Police Captain Charlie Price, Rochester’s first African American officer. I fondly recall presenting him with a ceremonial Rochester Police Department Sword in honor of the Department’s 200th Anniversary in December 2019.

Captain Price joined the RPD as the Department’s first African American officer in 1947, rising through the ranks until he retired in 1985 as a captain – a remarkable and historic 38-year career! Along the way, he blazed a trail and set an example of excellence for other officers to follow.

When I found out that we would be forging these beautiful swords as part of the Bicentennial celebration, I thought it would be fitting that Captain Price – who is such an important part of the RPD’s history – should have one. The inscription on the blade reads: ‘Captain Charles Price – Service – December 1947 to March 1985 – First of Many.’

On behalf of the citizens of Rochester, I extend my deepest condolences to Captain Price’s family, friends and colleagues. We are eternally grateful for his service and for leading the way for others to follow.”

Charlie Price,  served for 38 years, rose in the ranks from beat cop along Joseph Avenue, Main and State Streets, to plain clothes detective and intelligence work, retiring in 1985 as a police captain. 

During World War II Mr. Price trained as a Tuskegee Airman and served in intelligence with the 332nd Fighter Group in Italy. He graduated from Monroe Community College and later took specialized course work at numerous northeast and midwest universities.     

Over the years he has participated in a number of professional and social organizations including: Rochester chapter of American Association for Professional Administrators, president; National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives; Greater Rochester International Panel of National Association of Public Administrators; Rochester Rosewood Club (command officers club), president; Rochester/Monroe County YMCA, advisory board member; Rochester Pathway Houses, president; New York State District Kiwanis International, governor. 

Mr. Price is widely recognized for his lifetime of capable and sensitive work in behalf of justice for all. He is especially respected for his ability to work effectively amidst a broad diversity of people and situations. He is known for his habit of learning the facts before taking a position and for his belief that change is best brought about from the inside.