The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) was founded in September 1976 during a three-day symposium to address crime in low-income urban areas. The symposium was co-sponsored by the Police Foundation and the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA). The Joint Center for Political Studies (JCPS) coordinated this unprecedented event in which sixty top ranking black law enforcement executives representing twenty-four states and fifty major cities gathered in the Washington, D.C. area to participate. They exchanged views about the critically high rate of crime in the black urban communities and the socio-economic conditions that lead to crime and violence. They raised questions about relevant issues such as fairness in the administration of justice, police community relations, the hiring and promotion of black police officers, and the unique problems of the black police executive.
Recognizing black law enforcement executives could have a significantly more effective impact upon the criminal justice system through a unified voice, the symposium participants departed from the planned agenda to create NOBLE. They unanimously elected Hubert Williams, then Director of the Newark, New Jersey Police Department, and the first black police chief of a major city, temporary chairman of NOBLE. During that meeting, the initial purpose and the objectives of the organization were developed and a working committee to devise the organizational structure was formed.