Painesville Police Honor Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, the Painesville Police Department recognizes Officer John Gordon as the department's first African American officer.


John Gordon was born in Virginia in 1867 and came to Painesville around 1890. In the early 1900s, Gordon began his career in law enforcement for the village of Painesville. At the time, a town marshal served as Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) in the area and although records are vague during this period, Gordon likely served as deputy marshal during this time.


In 1903, Painesville became a city, civil service was instituted, and Gordon was employed as the department's first African American officer. It was documented that Gordon and his wife, Emma, had a large extended family in the Painesville area, with information suggesting they lived on Jackson Street.


Over 100 years later, Gordon's great nephew, School Resource Officer Julius K. Ponder, is a proud member of the Painesville Police Department. Ponder said he was made aware of his great uncle many years ago from his mother. "My mother was telling me about kinfolk in Painesville and about my great uncle John Gordon," said Ponder.


Ponder also explained how he found and acquired his great uncle's portrait. "We had located the picture in the basement of Victoria Place and years ago contacted the owner to ask about it." After Ponder explained his relation to Gordon, he and his family were honored to be presented with the photo.


Ponder has been a police officer for the City of Painsville for almost 20 years and has served as the School Resource Officer at Harvey High School since 2001. "I feel proud of my great uncle and I'm happy to represent him and the Painesville Police Department," said Ponder.