Trooper who broke race barrier honored

May 25, 1994|By Ed Heard | Ed Heard,Sun Staff Writer

Retired state police Capt. Milton S. Taylor is back home.

The Elkridge-born veteran, who broke the race barrier as Maryland's first black state trooper in 1957, has been honored with an exhibit in the Howard County Center of African American Culture in Columbia.

Captain Taylor's face now rests among portraits of Frederick Douglass, Nelson Mandela, old Southern cookbooks and 18th-century family knickknacks.

"He's living history," said Wylene Burch, director of the center. "He shows an example of what can be done through hard work."

County officials, schoolchildren and state troopers attended a brief ceremony Monday for Captain Taylor, 61, whose career with the state police spanned 25 years.

Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Larry W. Tolliver presented Captain Taylor with a certificate of recognition.

"We were in awe of Captain Taylor," said Colonel Tolliver, who joined the state police in 1967. "Everyone thought he was a top notch guy. I've always looked up to him."

But Captain Taylor admits that what proved to be a successful career did not begin with ideas of becoming a hero and pioneer in the eyes of his peers and co-workers.

"When I applied to state police, I didn't think about the significance of this. All I knew is that they rode up and down the highway and it looked like an interesting job," he said. "But I hope all this will encourage other people."

Captain Taylor said the biggest -- and most obvious -- change in the state police is the diversity. Black troopers now account for 288 of the 1,665-member force.

A pistol expert, Captain Taylor worked in the state police investigation division, automotive safety enforcement, planning and research and field operations.

His career included assisting in the investigation of guards bringing drugs into state prisons and fake license production at a Motor Vehicle Administrative office in Greenbelt.

After retiring from the state agency in 1982, Captain Taylor served as Howard County's public safety coordinator from July 1982 to June 1987.

Now a Glen Burnie resident, Captain Taylor holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in sociology and a Bachelor of Science degree in social services from Morgan State University in Baltimore.

The display honoring Captain Taylor includes a vintage 1950s brown state police uniform, a tan hat, shiny black patent leather shoes and a picture of the young trooper next to his Chevrolet outside state police headquarters in Pikesville.

"It makes you think about your own mortality," Captain Taylor said of the exhibit.

With a smile and a mouth-full of career stories, Captain Taylor signed autographs for students from Bond Hill Elementary School in Prince George's County who attended the ceremony.

"I learned you can achieve anything you want," said Justin DeWytt, a Bond Hill sixth-grader.

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