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Tribute made to 1st African American female to join LMPD

Bertha Whedbee is not a name that many people know but Chief Conrad with LMPD said they should.
Bertha Whedbee

LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) -- A special ceremony paid tribute to the first African American female to join Louisville's Police Department.

Bertha Whedbee is not a name that many people know but Chief Conrad with LMPD said they should. In 1922, there was only one female police officer in this entire city.

Whedbee became the second woman and the first African American woman to be appointed to LMPD.

Now, 48 years since her passing in 1960, a fitting tribute was made to her service.

Dozens gathered to pay their respects to Whedbee and her husband Dr. Ellis Whedbee, a co-founder of the Red Cross Hospital in Louisville.

For years their graves remained unmarked. No one is really sure why and once her story reached a Facebook page designated for retired LMPD officers it struck a nerve.

Dozens gathered to pay their respects to Bertha Whedbee and her husband Dr. Ellis Whedbee, a co-founder of the Red Cross Hospital in Louisville.

Retired LMPD Sgt. Chuck Cooper said they decided work to buy the Whedbees a proper headstone.

"I don't believe anybody intentionally tried to hide their service. I think it was just one of those historical facts that kind of slipped through the cracks. But now that we have mass media and internet and things, we get information that use to be very difficult. I think once the story got out everybody wanted to correct that,” Cooper said.

Cooper said they have worked to find living relatives of Mrs. Whedbee but so far haven't had any luck.

This afternoon they held this ceremony to unveil the new headstone at Louisville Cemetery. Purchased entirely with donations from those who never knew them but wanted to honor their service.