About Dr. Bob

Dr. Bob:
"Man of God and Gun"
Board Accomplishments
Declaration of Principles
Press Releases



(Ebony, September 1983)

Dr. Robert Ingram is minister and police chief in
Opa-locka, Fla.

By Raymond Lang

On WEEKDAYS, he runs a tight ship as he battles for law and order on the streets of Opa-locka, Fla., a thumb-nail-sized town on the outskirts of Miami. It’s a nonstop fight. He’s the police chief.

On Sundays, Bible clenched in hand, Dr. Robert Ingram really shifts into high gear as a licensed minister in the African Methodist Episcopal church, preaching love, patience and perseverance in sometimes gentle, sometimes thundering tones.

"I know that, as I look out over the years, I was not in charge of my life or where I was going to arrive. I did everything opposite that would ever see me in the pulpit," admits the 47-year-old veteran police office, who will be fully ordained in October. He has a master’s degree from Florida International University and a Ph. D. in applied behavioral sciences from Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities in Cincinnati.

"A police chief in the pulpit," rumbles the bearish, bearded lawman, as though the idea has suddenly dawned on him. "How much stranger could that be?"However strange, most of the 16,000 people in Opa-locka , a 4.5 square mile town, are singing his praises and whispering "Amen."Dr. Ingram, one of Miami’s most-honored office, in 1963 became the first Black Miami police officer to be assigned to an all-White beat, the heart of the city’s downtown business district. In 1969, he was chosen the year’s most outstanding officer and was tapped as one of the nation’s top police officers by the International Assn. of Chiefs of Police. He left the Miami police force as a sergeant after 21 years, and in January 1980 took the helm of the troubled Opa-locka Police Dept.

He has virtually lifted the department by the bootstraps, touching the lives of young and old through innovative programs and a new awareness for human relations. His officers show a keen sense of professionalism.

Crime is down significantly in Opa-locka. Following a major reshuffling of Police Dept. personnel and new appointments and strategies, the crime rate dropped almost 13 percent in 1981, and 8.4 percent in 1982. Perhaps for the first time, Opa-locka’s citizens are feeling good about themselves and their Police Dept.

"Chief Ingram deserves all the accolades," beams Newall J. Daughtrey the former Opa-locka city manager who pinned the badge on Dr. Ingram after interviewing 11 candidates. "He took a racist department known for brutality, especially against Blacks, a department riddled with improprieties, corrupt and illegal activities, and made it into a model department."

When Dr. Ingram was named Opa-locka police chief, "it was like trying to right a capsized ship," he recalls.

But right it, he did. "My first inclination was to lash out, but I think that is what was invited, that I would lose my cool. I backed off, asked for guidance," Dr. Ingram says, "and looked at what was happening as objectively as I could, being in the middle of it."

Much like Daniel in the lion’s den, he escaped unscathed, though undoubtably much wiser. He has brought Opa-locka’s youth directly into the Police Dept., organizing an Explorer’s post, as well as Boy and Girl Scout troops – all racially integrated. "If youngsters such as these get no guidance, we (the police) are going to have them ultimately. My preference," he explains, "is to get them now give them that guidance and fill the void."

Dr. Ingram has won several grants for the department. These include a $400,000 grant to establish a much-needed mental health facility, and a crime prevention project which brings residents, the elderly and business people closer to the department.

An able administrator, Dr. Ingram has increased the department’s strength from 35 to 42 full-time officers. They

are backed up by six auxiliary and six reserve officers. He has nudged the budget from $800,00 to $1.2 million. One of the three commanders in his department is Dorna Love who, as head of patrol, is the only Black woman with that job in Florida and, perhaps, the nation. Dr. Ingram has added a Black woman to the K-9 team, another rarity in police work. Meanwhile, in-house training goes on, courses such as officer survival and stress control.

The ministry and the power of the scriptures have guided his life." One time, it was clearly war on crime, police and the criminal," he says. "But now, with a spiritual insight, I began to see there was not a war.

"We are not at war with the people I the community, but rather we have to work to resolve these issues," he adds in strong, measured tones. Persons who break the law are "pieces, parts of families. We cannot write them off. They must be chastened for what they did, by chastened with love."

Al Chandler, Opa-locka’s city manager, stands firmly behind his police chief. "This man is a great resource," he says. "He’s like a father figure to a lot of young officers. They look up to him; they respect him. His being a minister is a great asset. We have to deal with crises I this city from day to day. Wit both Bob and myself being spiritual men, this has helped us get through these crises."

As vice president of the national Organization of Black Law enforcement executives, Dr. Ingram is working constantly to create better ways to serve the public, to bring police and the community closer together. A strong source of strength has proven to be his family, his wife Delores and daughters Tirzah, 21 who is married, and Tamara, 18, a Florida International University freshman.

"All the faults I had, all the problems, the things I have done, have given me a sense of humility and caring for my fellow man and woman," Dr. Ingram says. "I can be more accepting, I see problems a lot clearer. You have to accept that the road is going to be rough – accept that the going will be tough. Accept that, in spite of all this, there are no excuses.

"I know," he says "that I run against the wind. But I run…and run…and run."

Opa-Locka Police chief,
Dr. Robert Ingram, in
Ebony Magazine article entitled
"Man of God and Gun."

Dr. Ingram confers with commanders in his force. They are Thurman Weaver (Administration), Dorna Love (Patrol) and Paul Skeados (Criminal Investigation). Commander Love is the only Black woman head of patrol in Florida.
Dr. Ingram has boosted the Police Dept's annual budget from $800,000 to $1.2 million, and the crime rate has been dropping each year.

Licensed to preach by the African Methodist Episcopal church in 1980, Dr. Ingram was ordained one month later. Among those attending his trial sermon was a man he arrested, who encouraged the minister to "keep moving on."

Dr. Ingram and Officer Robert Cole are "at ease" with the Explorers, a youth group the chief started when he took over. Ingram believes working with youth groups will help to keep young men and women on the right track. He has also formed scout units for both boys and girls.

Enforcing law and order doesn't keep Dr. Ingram from passing on encouraging words to young men and boys in the small town of Opa-locka.

At right, a genuine support system have been his wife, Delores, and daughter Tirzah, 21, holding her daughter, Reyna. Another daughter, Tamara, 18, is a freshman at Florida International University.

Two person's who are proud of Dr. Ingram's leadership are Mayor Helen Miller and City Manager
Al Chandler.


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