Frank B. Mullino, Sr. was one, but more importantly, he was one of nine: the “Original Nine” Black police officers in Savannah. What did it take to be a Black police officer in the deep South in 1947? Perfection and grit beyond what anyone has seen. Savannah whittled 60 men down to 16 and then further down to The Nine. They were all sought after for their intelligence, military training, and sharp decision-making skills. They were the top of the top of all police officers in Savannah, which made them hated among most white officers.
“Savannah had black police officers before Atlanta and this is, groundbreaking, it also meant the work that had been done in the community had changed things,” said Vaughnette Goode-Walker in an interview with WTOC.
It was truly groundbreaking, and that feat can’t be taken away. Unfortunately, there is another part to this story that isn’t often talked about. If you see how long each man stayed, that date tells a story of continued racism, because no man should work so hard, only to be cast aside by the city that is supposed to hold them. No man should be made to work so hard for so little.
According to Savannah Now– All nine of Savannah’s first black officers were appointed on May 1, 1947. They included:
Howard J. Davis; resigned Aug. 15, 1954.
Alexander Grant Jr.; dismissed May 24, 1947.
Milton Hall; dismissed Feb. 15, 1949.
Stephney “Stephanie” Houston; dismissed Sept. 16, 1948.
William N. Malone; retired May 1, 1982.
Frank B. Mullino; dismissed May 13, 1953.
James Nealy; retired Nov. 1, 1972.
John A. White; initial retirement July 1, 1980 and final retirement in
Leroy Wilson; dismissed Feb. 15, 1949.
Six of the Original Nine were out of the police department within seven years, but despite the Savannah Police Department’s meager servings, what these nine men gave was infinite.