Lexington's first black assistant police chief dies

jwarren@herald-leader.comJuly 11, 2013 

Ulysses G. Berry, a longtime Lexington police official who was the city's first black assistant police chief, has died.

Mr. Berry, 72, died Wednesday, said his son, Lexington Police Sgt. Rahsaan Berry.

"It's hard to lose a father, particularly if he was a good father. And he was a great father," Rahsaan Berry said Thursday. "He was always for the community, and the people of Lexington. He always tried to help people."

Lexington Police Chief Ronnie Bastin issued a statement offering condolences to Mr. Berry's family.

Bastin praised Mr. Berry's "consummate professionalism and positive influence," which he said "made an indelible impact on the Division of Police and on the community he so proudly served."

Mr. Berry grew up in a family of 13 children and lived in Lexington all of his life, his son said. He joined the city police department in 1964, four years after graduating from the old Dunbar High School.

Mr. Berry went on to spend 41 years on the police force, rising through the ranks from sergeant to lieutenant to major.

Mr. Berry was named assistant police chief in 1990 by then chief Larry Walsh, who said at the time that he was his "first choice" for the job. The promotion came as Berry pressed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the Urban County Government, contending that the previous police chief had passed over him because of his race. Mr. Berry dropped the suit after becoming assistant chief.

He served as Lexington's interim police chief in 2001, after then Mayor Pam Miller promoted Walsh to public safety commissioner.

Among other things, Mr. Berry helped organize the annual Drug Free Day, which police sponsored in an effort to combat drug use in Lexington neighborhoods. He also ran the police department's division of community services.

Mr. Berry retired in 2005.

In addition to his son, Mr. Berry is survived by his wife of 52 years, Marian Dunn Berry, and his daughter, Urika Berry.

Visitation will be Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Consolidated Baptist Church, 1625 Russell Cave Road. Funeral services at the church will follow immediately. Burial will be in the Lexington Cemetery.

Jim Warren (859) 231-3255.

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