Family, Friends & Fellow Officers Remember...

Policeman William O. Steam

Denver Police Department, Colorado

End of Watch Friday, February 18, 1921

Leave a Reflection

Reflections for Policeman William O. Steam

Officer Steam,
On today, the 100th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Denver.


United States Border Patrol

February 18, 2021

Denver Post: PUBLISHED: February 17, 2018 at 4:22 pm

First African American Denver police officer to die in the line of duty receives marked headstone

A warm ceremony at Denver’s historic Riverside Cemetery celebrated the bravery and service of Officer Willie O. Steam.

Volunteers at the Denver Police Museum, retired police officers and government officials joined together on Saturday morning to unveil the headstone of Steam, who nearly a century ago became the first African-American Denver police officer to die in the line of duty.

Steam served as a police officer in Denver in the Five Points neighborhood for 11 years. He was shot to death on February 1921 by a man named Keil O’Neil, who accused Steam of unfairly shutting down a party the week before. At the time of his death, the city paid for Steams funeral, but it recently came to the attention of the Denver Police Museum that his grave lacked a marker.

“Today’s ceremony will correct that oversight,” Michael Hesse, president of the Denver Police Museum said.

“You kind of wonder that,” he said, when asked why Steam’s grave had been left unmarked. “We don’t know, but we had the opportunity to bring him back to life today.”

Steam started working in the city as a night watchman and a janitor at the Denver City and County building but was then hired to patrol the predominately black areas of Denver. He was killed at 2128 Arapahoe St. on Feb. 18, 1921 at 8:15 p.m.

The graveside ceremony opened with a flag bearer ceremony followed by a series of speeches by Mayor Michael Hancock and Police Chief Robert White, among others.

“As our nation recognizes the many leaders and heroes for black history month, the Denver Police Museum is honored to have this opportunity to recognize and honor the sacrifices of Willie O. Steam,” Hesse said.

“Steam had a reputation of strong will. He would go into very difficult and very dangerous situations by himself. He would march into difficult situations many times without backup.”

White reminded the audience that in addition to showing great signs of bravery during his service as a police officer, Steam was also a veteran of World War I and had survived a gunshot wound, from which he fully recovered, seven years prior to his death.

Steam’s showed his courage by joining the Denver police force during a time of prevailing racial prejudice. For Steam to have joined the Denver police at this time, shows a man of character and fearlessness, Hancock noted.

“In the 1920s, for an African American to become a Denver police officer deserves recognition,” Stephanie O’Malley, former Denver public safety director, said after the ceremony.

“To honor him today and say we haven’t forgotten him is just something that is phenomenal. We can’t forget the people that give.”

The ceremony concluded with a prayer, followed by a reception with chocolate cake, dozens of cookies and warm coffee.

Today is the release of the movie ‘Black Panther’ and we want to share with our community that we also have superheroes of all races,” Hesse said. “We may not have superpowers but we have the bravery, tenacity and love for our community that have helped make our community what it is today,”

Police Officer-retired

February 18, 2018

The Denver Police Museum, the Denver Police Department, the Denver Police Black Officers Association the Denver Police Foundation the Denver Police Retiree Association are looking for any surviving family members or Steam Family friends. Officer Steam is buried in Riverside Cemetery currently he has no headstone. A special ceremony is scheduled for February 2018 to place a headstone honoring Officer Steam. Officer Steam is the first African-American denver Police Officer to die in the line of duty.

Michael Hesse
Denver Police Museum

November 4, 2017

Officer Steam,
On today, the 93rd anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Denver.


United States Border Patrol

February 18, 2014

A Hero, RIP Sir

James Kotke
Civilian / Former Officer
WSF Park Police (Wi.)

February 13, 2012

I am privileged to among the first to leave a reflection for you.
Your heroism and service is honored today, the ninety-first anniversary year of your death. Your memory lives and you continue to inspire. Thank you for your service. My cherished son Larry Lasater was a fellow police officer murdered in the line of duty on April 24, 2005 while serving as a Pittsburg, CA police officer.

Time never diminishes respect and you will always be honored and revered. Rest In Peace.

Phyllis Loya
Mom of fallen California Officer Larry Lasater, Pittsburg PD, eow 4/24/05

February 7, 2012

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