The Honorable Lee P. Brown

2023 Hubert Williams Equal and Effective Policing Award Honoree

“Lee and Hubert were very good friends and colleagues during their time as chiefs of police. Lee embodies the ideals that this award is meant to highlight. Lee understood the need for the law enforcement profession to change and lead the call for a more professional, better educated, and more diverse police force that more closely matches the communities it serves.”

Darrel Stephens, 2022 NPI National Award Winner

Lee Patrick Brown, a tireless public servant for more than six decades, began his career as a police officer in San Jose, California, in 1960.

Throughout his law enforcement career, Mayor Brown called on police departments to deploy officers to foot patrols and encouraged a visible police presence in high-crime areas and positive public interactions with the community to build support for legitimate policing efforts. Because of his strong advocacy for deterring crime while bridging gaps in community interactions, he is often referred to as the “father of community policing.”

Mayor Brown cemented this focus on community initiatives through previous posts across the nation. In 1975, he was named Sheriff of Multnomah County, Oregon and in 1976, he became director of the Department of Justice Services.

From 1978 to 1982, Mayor Brown served as the public safety commissioner for Atlanta, Georgia. While there, he and his staff cracked the infamous Atlanta Child Murders case. This case involved the devastating slaughter of 29 Black youth and young adults.

Then, in 1982, Mayor Brown became the chief of police in Houston, Texas, where he developed Neighborhood Oriented Policing, a program employing community policing techniques. He served in this role until 1990 when he was presented the opportunity to serve as the police commissioner of New York City.

Mayor Brown was then appointed by President Clinton to be the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Policy or “Drug Czar,” a cabinet-level position from 1993 to 1996. In 1997, he left an indelible mark on history after being elected the first Black mayor of Houston, Texas. He served the citizens of the city until 2004.

In addition to his decorated career in public service, Mayor Brown was a distinguished scholar and contributed to the education of countless future generations through university teaching posts over the years. He graduated from Fresno State University with his Bachelor of Science degree in criminology in 1961. In 1964, he earned a master’s degree in sociology from San Jose State University where he became assistant professor in 1968. Mayor Brown earned his master’s degree in criminology in 1968 and his Ph.D. in 1970 at the University of California, Berkeley.

Mayor Brown is a respected authority in Public Administration, having served as both chairman and professor of the Department of Administration of Justice at Portland State University in 1968. In addition, he was appointed associate director at the Institute of Urban Affairs and Research, professor of Public Administration, and director of Criminal Justice programs at Howard University in 1972.

A founder of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), Mayor Brown has organized around the needs of Black police executives. He also served as the President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Today, Mayor Brown is chairman and CEO of Brown Group International, which uses the extensive expertise of its founder to develop solutions to complex problems in public safety, homeland security, crisis management, government relations, international trade, and other concerns.

In recognition of his career-long commitment to promoting a more effective and diverse law enforcement profession, Mayor Lee Brown is honored with the 2023 Hubert Williams Equal Justice and Effective Policing Award.

Much like NPI’s third president, Hubert Williams, Lee Brown is a man of uncommon integrity and leadership. His contributions toward initiating positive changes in policing, prioritizing and encouraging diversity in law enforcement, and addressing concerns of bias are exceptional, and it is for that reason, we are honored to give the world only a glimpse into the monumental impact he has made on communities and policing across America.

Jim Burch, President, National Policing Institute