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Cedar Rapids Historic Markers

1928 photo showing members of the Cedar Rapids Police Department

From 1923 to 1937, the Cedar Rapids Police Department and City Jail occupied the King Building, which stood here from 1910-1969. The department and jail moved to 310 Second Avenue SW in 1937. The city’s first African American police officer, Virgil Powell, worked for the department from 1924-1946. The son of former slaves, Powell arrived in Cedar Rapids in 1918 and ran his own car wash before becoming a police officer. By 1936, Powell was promoted to the Identification Bureau, where he implemented new fingerprinting methods. After retiring, he traveled extensively, wrote books and music, and was active in community organizations. Powell died in 1989; he was 99.

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