BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Birmingham leaders and police officers are honoring the life of the city’s first Black police officer Leroy Stover.

On Thursday, people paid tribute to Stover during a memorial service at Boutwell Auditorium.

Stover became a part of the force in 1966 and rose to the rank of deputy chief. He served the Birmingham Police Department for 32 years, retiring in 1998.

Before joining the force, the Dallas County native served in the United States Army where he served in the 187th Airborne Regimental combat team during the Korean War.

State Senator Roger Smitherman and Birmingham Police Chief Scott Thurmond say Stover was a representation of change for the city of Birmingham. 

“The fact that he allowed himself to be that engine of change all over the state, county and country and the world,” Smitherman said. “Coming out of Birmingham Alabama, you know the turmoil we had that beacon that he was able to show is monumental.”

“To join the department to make that change not only for citizens but to make the department a better place for everyone to work, so for him to be fair to make change to raise from the ranks to deputy chief it’s a lot to be said from that,” Thurmond said.

Funeral services for Stover will take place Friday at 11 a.m. at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.