Integrity can be defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. It is a person with good moral character. 

The word describes a man by the name of Herbert Hayter, a former officer with the Tyler Police Department, who announced he is retiring after more than three decades as an officer.

"It makes me feel good to hear that people value what I've done over the years," Hayter said.

Hayter was employed with the Tyler Police Department from June 1975 until his retirement in May 2008.

Herbert Hayter
Tyler Police Department

In 1995, he became the first black officer to be promoted to a supervisory rank within the department.

"Some of the things that I've done I never would have thought it might be something important later down the road," Hayter said.  

His promotion in 1995 was just the beginning of many firsts.

Hayter says being a police officer brought many opportunities his way.

"From when President Bush [George H. W. Bush] came to town, I drove the lead car in his motorcade," Hayter said. "When we got to Harvey Hall he just turned to me and said, 'Hey do you want to get some pictures?' He was just nice personable guy."

Herbert Hayter and President George H.W. Bush
Tyler Police Department

Hayter had the chance to meet three U.S. presidents, including President Gerald Ford and President Ronald Reagan.

While at serving the Tyler Police Department, Hayter was also a longtime Motorcycle Officer. He was first African American to hold this position. He was later promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

"I told my children I was the original Chocolate Chips," Hayter said with laugh, referring to the popular 1970's cop show "Chips". 

Herbert Hayter - Motorcycle Cop
Tyler Police Department

While over the Training Unit of Tyler P.D., Hayter was instrumental in starting up the Tyler Junior College Police Academy in 1999. He also helped make it one of the premiere law enforcement training centers in East Texas.

"Don Martin was in my very first class," Hayter said. "He does media relations with the [Tyler] police department and of course Officer Martin is thinking about retirement, so it was time for me to do that also."

Hayter also helped start the Citizens Police Academy at the Tyler Police Department, which is a program that is still active today. It allows citizens to learn more about inner workings of the department.

While Hayter originally retired in 2008, in March 2014, he came out of retirement and accepted a position with the Tyler Junior College Police Academy as their Academy Coordinator. 

He was subsequently promoted to the rank of Lieutenant for the Tyler Junior College Police Department.

"In 2014, I got bored and started looking for a job and this thing opened up for me," Hayter said. 

Even with all of his accomplishments, he recognizes that no one gets where they are without the help and support of others. 

"When I started in 1975, there were a couple of officers who were already there who started in the 1950s," Hayter said while discussing the the atmosphere when he joined the force. "And because of that time they weren't afforded the opportunity to promote up."

Hayter is referring to Officers Ira Brown and Willie Johnson, who were the first two black officers hired by the Tyler Police Department. 

1954 - First Black Officers - Ira Brown and Willie Johnson
Tyler Police Department

"If those guys hired in the 50's, who were not allowed to [be] promoted, who were not allowed to patrol south of Front Street, if they hadn't tolerated what they tolerated, there's no way I could have been promoted, no way I could have done anything that I have done." Hayter said. "So I owe a debt to those guys because in essence I'm standing on their shoulders."

To thank Hayter for his years of service with the Tyler community and his roots with the department, the Smith County Peace Officer's Association decided to celebrate his career with a fitting tribute.

On Wednesday, the association hosted a retirement reception for Hayter. 

Many say he is the epitome of the law enforcement tenets of honor: Integrity, professionalism, fairness, excellence and trust. 

Thank you for your service, Officer Hayter.