George Napper Jr., a trailblazing lawman who became Atlanta’s first African American police chief and the first head of Georgia’s Department of Children and Youth Services, has died.

Appointed chief in 1978, Napper led the Atlanta Police Department during the Child Murders crisis. He created a white-collar crime unit and special investigations section and was named Atlanta’s public safety director in 1982. He was also one of the founders of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

Napper, 81, died Friday at his southwest Atlanta home. For 30 years, he suffered from Kennedy’s disease, a neuromuscular disorder. His condition worsened in the last two weeks.