Georgia State patrol pays tribute to first Black state trooper

ATLANTA — The Georgia State Patrol is paying tribute to its first Black state trooper, who died last week.

Retired Major Robert Hightower became the first Black state trooper to be hired by the GSP in 1970. He retired in 1998 after 28 years of service with the Department of Public Safety. At the time, he was the Division Director of Driver Services.

Hightower earned his Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice administration from Brenau College in 1982 and went on to earn a masters in science and executive decision-making from Atlanta University in 1985.


Hightower worked his way up through the ranks as a trooper, becoming a captain in 1990. For over 34 years, he provided executive security detail to judges, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and his family and other government officials He was also the venue commander during the 1996 Olympics. He received numerous awards over his career.

After his retirement from the Georgia State Patrol, he was appointed to serve as the Sergeant of Arms/Doorkeeper for the Georgia General Assembly until 2014.

He was married to Betty Jean Wright for 58 years and the couple has two children and three grandchildren.

Hightower’s funeral will be held on Saturday, Sept. 26, at New Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta.

The Georgia State Patrol will pay a final tribute to Hightower during his funeral, where troopers from Troop C will provide a funeral escort for the family and the GSP Honor Guard will serve as pallbearers.