Dayton Police ‘Firsts’: In Dayton and Beyond
by Dayton Police Sgt. Stephen Grismer (ret) © 2012
In December 2011, Dayton Historian Curt Dalton asked visitors to his website, Dayton History Books Online, to share with him Dayton ‘Firsts’! This prompted the compilation of ‘firsts’ on Dayton policing… a way to detail the city’s law enforcement history and identify milestones in the evolution of the police department. What follows are over 80 Dayton police ‘firsts’ (and a several notable ‘lasts’) to ponder... as well as a few items that may not really be ‘firsts’ but are interesting footnotes in local police history.
Most of these ‘firsts’ are merely developmental undertakings; some are intriguing occurrences; and some are truly meaningful events. Many of these ‘firsts’ are first-time happenings in Dayton and significant to Dayton only while other of these ‘firsts’ achieved national or even world-wide recognition.
‘Firsts’ related to gender and race are also identified, usually in the context of appointments and promotions, but not always. And, regrettably, when you talk about law enforcement firsts, some have to do with the darkest events in Dayton police history... most notably, the tragic deaths of its police officers.
Many of the ‘firsts’ on this list can be also found on the DHBO website in other accounts. Credit goes to Curt Dalton who provided a number of these ‘firsts’ with his stories. As more police ‘firsts’ are learned, this list will be updated. The timeline begins with the first 100+ years after Dayton was settled in 1796.
§ A year after settlers arrived in Dayton, on June 10, 1797 Cyrus Osborn was appointed the first constable for what would later become Dayton Township. A single constable was the township’s only law enforcement officer. A single chief law enforcement officer in a community was the standard of the time. The modern concept of organized police departments would not surface for another 31 years... and it would be in England in 1829.
§ In April 1802, Jerome Holt became the first to be elected to the position of constable. Holt was later elected the County’s second sheriff in 1808 (succeeding Col. George Newcom). The primary work of the local constable was collecting unpaid taxes and conducting a comprehensive census of all male Dayton inhabitants as well as act as a processor for the court and act on the orders of the Justice of the Peace.
§ In 1805, after the town of Dayton was incorporated, James Miller was appointed the first town marshal. If arrests were made by the marshal, prisoners were held in a dry well behind Newcom’s Tavern, which also served as the local courthouse and meeting place. Nearly all convicted offenders were sentenced to punishment of one to 39 lashes on the bare back, “well laid on” by the sheriff.
§ Dayton’s first recorded murder took place on November 20, 1806. Rachel Aiken was beaten to death by her husband, John. He was taken into custody and held at McCollum’s Tavern; however, John Aiken was found dead before he could appear in court. It was possibly suicide but no records exist explaining what actually happened.
§ On March 23, 1825 John McAfee was the first person in Dayton to be legally executed after he was convicted of strangling his wife, Dolly McAfee. The scaffold was built at what is today the intersection of W. Third Street and Robert Drive. It was an event that brought hundreds of spectators. Before his death, McAfee admitted to the murder. In 1964, folk singer Mike Seeger recorded it as a ballad, “McAfee’s Confession”, as did Ann and Phil Case in 2003.
§ In 1833 Joseph L. Allen
was appointed as a watchman to patrol a designated “square”
. He walked every half hour from the old brick court house to Jefferson Street to Second Street to Main Street and then back to the court house. This was Dayton’s first foot patrol beat
. Five years later in 1838, Boston would establish the nation’s first modern police force, gradually replacing the centuries-old practice of using citizen watchmen.
§ In 1856 a portion of the Deluge engine firehouse on Main Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets was constructed with cells, thus becoming the first Dayton ‘city jail’. Previous to that for 60 years, the city relied on the county jails to house its prisoners: Newcom’s Tavern; the 1804 log enclosure; the 1813 rubble stone jail on W. Third; and the 1845 prison at Main & Sixth where a room in the basement had been used as a city lock-up.
§ In October 1861
the police established itsfirst police station house
in the old Oregon engine firehouse at the southeast corner of Sixth and Tecumseh Streets. This signaled the start of an 1858 initiative by the city of Dayton to create its own police department
, following similar movements across the nation: New York was the second in 1844 and Philadelphia was the third in 1855. Cincinnati, the nation’s 6th largest city, formed its first police force in 1858,
§ On April 22, 1867
, after 60+ years of a marshal, deputy and a few watchmen
, the first Dayton police force was formed
with Civil War Union Colonel Patrick O’Connell appointed the first Superintendent of Police
(i.e. police chief). Unfortunately, the state law allowing the creation of a police force in major cities of the “second class” (i.e. Dayton and Columbus) was repealed and this first organization was dissolved by 1869.
§ On May 28, 1867, Dayton appointed its first detective, Issac Hale. Hale had previously been the town marshal for one term from May 1865 to April 1867. Patrick O’Connell had been his deputy marshal until appointed to lead the fleeting Dayton police force. Hale resigned the position three months later on August 26, 1867. There is no record of him being replaced. The first police supervisors were two sergeants: 1st Sgt. William Shoemaker and 2nd Sgt. Robert Edwards.
§ May 29, 1873, the first Dayton Metropolitan Police Force was officially authorized by the General Assembly of Ohio through the enactment of a law creating a ‘Board of Police Commissioners’, placing into effect what had been dissolved four years earlier. All members of the police force were appointed by the ‘Board’, the first of which was appointed by the Ohio Governor.
§ After an initial but brief period with Thomas Steward in charge of the newly-constituted metropolitan police force, William Martin was appointed Police “Captain and Acting Superintendent” (i.e. police chief) on September 4, 1873. Capt. Martin is officially recognized as the first to head what is today the Dayton Police Department. Martin reported to the Police Board and the commissioners set police policy. Capt. Martin was the first to complete a full two-year term.
§ On February 20, 1874, Dayton was the 44th largest city in the United States city and became the nation’s first major city subjected to the WCTU Praying Woman’s Crusade (source: Ken Burns’ PROHIBITION). A local Woman’s Christian Temperance Union group of over 200 women formed. Saloon after saloon was visited by bands of ladies praying for men’s souls. After 25 days, a truce was reached when a police order prohibited women from blocking the walks. The police also enacted strict rules on saloon-keepers on the sale and on-premise consumption of alcohol.
§ This is not a ‘first’ but it is a ‘beginning’. The Dayton Police Bureau of Identification and Records can trace its roots to a Dayton Police Commission 1879 directive for the head of the police force “to have photographs taken of noted criminals and suspicious characters to be preserved....” This is the first major expansion of local law enforcement duties outside foot patrol assignments.
§ On January 17, 1880 Ptl. Lee Lynam
became the first Dayton police officer killed in the line of duty
when he was shot by John Francis inside Mace Crable’s saloon at 109 E. Third. Ptl. Lynam’s killer was 22 years old and a known local troublemaker. Francis, through a change of venue, had his case tried in Butler County where he received a 10-year penitentiary sentence. Since then 23 other Dayton police officers have died in the line of duty
§ On November 30, 1881, William Kirby was appointed Dayton’s first detective sergeant. The position carried the distinguished title ‘Chief of Detectives’. The role itself had prestige that superseded ranks higher than sergeant and almost always ensured consideration when vacancies occurred at Police Chief. Dayton’s first detectives of the state-authorized police forcewere Ptl. William Hatfield and Ptl. Patrick Hughes in 1873 but the position was abolished after five years.
§ On August 17, 1883, the Dayton Police Force acquired its first police patrol wagon. It served as a multi-purpose vehicle: prisoner conveyance, ambulance removal and patrolmen transport to assignments. In 1890, a second patrol wagon was acquired and “Patrol Station No. 1” opened to stable the horses and wagons at 15 Brown Street, now the location of the Thai 9 banquet room.
§ On March 12, 1887, William Shoemaker was appointed the Dayton Police Superintendent (i.e. police chief), the first career officer to rise to head the police force. After fighting for the Union army at the rank of major during the Civil War, Shoemaker was appointed 1st sergeant of the police force in 1867. He became a lieutenant; was appointed superintendent and later served as police court bailiff until his death in 1911. His police career spanned nearly 40 years.
§ In 1892
, Dayton police established its first mounted patrol unit
of a sergeant and eight patrolmen. On August 9, 1899 Ptl. William Dalton
was thrown by his horse
and killed while in pursuit of a panhandler and died the next day from his injuries. Despite the tragedy, the mounted officers patrolled until motorcycles and motor cars emerged as more practical means of police transportation; however, 75 years later in 1989, the mounted patrol
was resurrected by Chief James Newby. Its popularity never waned but in 2004 the unit was abolished due to budgetary constraints.
§ In 1894 as a result of societal pressure, the Dayton Board of Police Directors appointed its first female member of the police force: Louanda Bowman, a jail matron. It was a part-time position and her salary was paid by the Women’s Christian Association. Prior to that time, it was a patrolman’s legal responsibility to search female prisoners. It was as much unnerving for the officer as it was for the women prisoners. In 1897, Ms. Bowman became a permanent full-time, city-paid jail matron and lived at the Central Police Station.
§ In 1896, a new Patrol House was established at 15 S. St. Clair near E. Third Street and the Dayton police force acquired its first horse-drawn ambulance to add to its fleet of two patrol wagons. Ambulance service in Dayton was handled by the police department from the start in 1883 using its patrol wagons. In 1947 Hoyne Funeral Home was privately contracted by the city, ending 65 years of police operation of the ambulance service.
§ Although the police had 20-24 patrol boxes containing telephones for over 10 years, in 1896
the police department’s first police communication system
was purchased. It placed into operation the Gamewell System of police telegraph
at a cost of $25,000. It consisted of 64 ‘call boxes’ strategically located around the city. It provided patrolmen with both direct telegraph signal or telephone connection to the police “central exchange”.
§ In 1898, the Davis Sewing Machine Co.of Dayton built the first prisoner transport bicycle, allowing the police to quickly convey arrested individuals to jail. The “Police Patrol Tricycle” required two officers to pedal while a prisoner sat between both, manacled at wrists and ankles. It was promoted in a popular magazine as “the only cycle ever constructed for such a purpose”. There is no record that Dayton police used the tricycle but it would use another Davis product 15 years later.
§ In 1898
a black man, William Jenkins
, was appointed to the Dayton police force. Ptl. Jenkins
is recognized as Dayton’s first black police officer
. He is the first black officer to conclude his career with the grant of a police pension. He retired in 1917 after he was severely injured arresting four of six members of the notorious local “Alabama gang” in November 1916. This same gang had shot and killed Ptl. George Purcell
just two months earlier.
The next 100 years (1901-2000) continued to deliver ‘firsts’ for Dayton law enforcement, both local and developmental in nature; however, the 20th Century was also underscored by a number of noteworthy events and accomplishments bringing state, national or even international attention to the Dayton community. And, commencing with the hiring of William Jenkins, a measured increase in the number of blacks to the police force would open the door for another type of local ‘firsts’… those related to race leading up to and then after the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
§ On March 1, 1901 John C. Whitaker was appointed to head the Dayton Police Department. Whitaker is officially Dayton’s first “Chief of Police”, being designated the title by an October 1902 municipal code. The title replaced the long-held designation of Police Superintendent. Chief Whitaker would head the Department for seven years. Much of the early move to professionalize the Dayton police force can be attributed to the Chief’s management style and vision of policing.
Chief Whitaker was the International Association of Chiefs of Police Vice President in 1906. He served with Washington D.C. Police Chief and IACP President Richard Sylvester (1901-15), who is recognized as the “Father of Police Professionalism”. Chief Whitaker also preceded on the IACP executive board the renowned Berkeley (Ca.) Chief August Vollmer, the “Father of Modern American Law Enforcement”.
§ In 1902 the “Bertillon System for Criminal Identification” – based on a science called anthropometry - was introduced to the Dayton police force. This was the first formal criminal record-keeping system for Dayton police. Anthropometry was based on measurements of certain bony parts of the body that were believed to never change over an individual’s life. It pre-dated Dayton’s use of fingerprint identification by about 15 years.
§ This is not a ‘first’ but it is a ‘most’
. Ptl. Charles Wilkins
was hired in January 1903
. He retired in January 1950 at the age 75 at the rank of sergeant with a full 47 years of law enforcement service, the longest police career in Dayton history
. Ptl. Wilkins’ career began a month after Ptl. Rudolph Wurstner
, who would go on to have the second longest police career - 46 years and seven months - and would also rise to the position of Chief of Police.
§ In 1904, the world’s first speeding ticket was issued to Harry Myers for traveling 12 miles per hour on W. Third Street in his automobile (source: Ohio History Central). Although listed by several sources, there remains the question to be researched as to whether the ticketed Harry Myers was the Hollywood actor who appeared in 257 silent and “talking” films and directed 48 films. His most famous role was with Charlie Chaplin in City Lights.
§ On January 27, 1911, Dayton authorized the purchase of four motorcycles and assigned two in the east-end 2nd Precinct and two in the west-end 3rd Precinct, thus, establishing its first police motorcycle squad. The first officers were reportedly Ptl. Floyd Hartman and Ptl. Orpha Gopperton. Ptl. Otha Greger was recognized as the police department’s most skilled cyclist. The squad would expand in the 1920s to become its largest motorized patrol unit until police patrol cars became more practical and affordable.
The Berkeley (Ca.) Police Department claims to be the first in 1911 to organize a motorcycle patrol, noting that its nationally renowned chief, August Vollmer, was “the first police chief to create a motorized force [by] placing officers on motorcycles….” However, Dayton Ptl. Edward Poland was undisputedly assigned to motorcycle patrol on June 15, 1911 in the 3rd Precinct. Nevertheless, Berkeley PD’s claim is arguable. Research shows police agencies with motorcycles as early as 1906.
§ In 1912 the Dayton police force acquired its first motorized four-wheeled vehicle, a “Department of Public Safety” utilitarian wagon. It was the start at replacing horse-drawn ambulance and prisoner wagons. Unfortunately, during the 1913 Great Flood the auto-patrol wagon was badly damaged by collision and debris whenit was swept by waters south from police headquarters, coming to rest in front of the Baltimore dairy lunch room. A wooden whiskey barrel had collapsed on its top.
§ This is not a ‘first’ but it is a footnote in local history. In April 1913, if not earlier, the “machines” ridden by Dayton police were “Dayton” motorcycles by the Davis Sewing Machine Co. Having changed its product to bicycles in the 1890s, it then began marketing its “Dayton” motorcycles from 1911 to 1917. Davisnever stopped building bicycles, making several models for Harley Davidson (1917 to 1922) and Indian (in 1919). In 1924 the company liquidated but re-emerged as Huffy bicycle.
§ Although Dayton police utilized bicycles from the early 1900s, in 1914 the police force established its first bicycle patrol squad as the “golden bicycle age” ended. The city was expanding outward and this was a transportation method intended to augment foot patrol. The less expensive two-wheelers lasted for only two years (until 1916) because emergency calls were often slowed by policemen having to repair punctured tires. This means of patrol was resurrected again in the 1990s with great success.
§ In June 1914, Dayton’s first Policewomen’s Bureau was established when City Manager Henry Waite brought to town Katherine Ostrander, a settlement worker from Chicago, and placed her in charge. Often confused as being the jail matrons on the police force, policewomen were assigned to the Department of Public Safety, dressed in civilian attire but wore a badge. In the early years, their duties were to check dance halls for wayward girls and to warn of the “soldier boys” that were in town.
§ In 1914
, Plwn. Annie R. McCully
became Dayton’s first policewoman
and soon after was promoted to supervisor. She was joined in 1914 by Plwn. Lulu Sollers
, who would take over the Policewomen’s Bureau in 1918 and lead it until 1944. Over time, policewomen
would check dance halls, movie houses, investigate juvenile crimes and assist vice detectives in proactive enforcement measures, such as prostitution decoy operations.
§ On August 26, 1915 the Dayton police force acquired its first automobile, a Model T Ford. It was parked in front of city hall when it was stolen. There is no record that it was recovered. Future motorcars purchased were sheltered at the “Police Motor” house adjacent to Dayton Fire Headquarters on E. Monument Avenue. By 1920, the police force had four Model Ts – the “Ford Squad” – two motorized wagons, a Cadillac and a high-powered vehicle used by its “Speed Officer”.
§ In 1915, the first salt n’ pepper police team came about when Det. Seymour Yendes (white) and Det. Lucius Rice (black) were assigned together to deal with illegal houses of prostitution located throughout Dayton. These local houses were prominent in the 19th century going into the next. Libby Hedges was a well known Dayton madam. Her boarders were listed as “prostitutes” on the 1900 U.S. census and lived next door to several patrolmen. In 1915 all brothels were ordered closed by the police department, ending the seemingly unrestricted vice.
§ On November 16, 1916
, Ptl. Lucius Rice
became the first black Dayton officer to be promoted to the rank of sergeant
. Sgt. Rice
would become one of Dayton’s more heroic officers. While attempting to arrest a fugitive in 1926, Sgt. Rice was seriously injured in a gun battle but was able to kill his attacker. On September 30, 1939, he was engaged in another gun battle with a murder suspect and, again, the sergeant was shot. This time he did not survive, dying on October 5, 1939.
Sgt. Lucius Rice
’s killer, Eugene Harris, was apprehended at the shooting scene by other officers. He was charged, prosecuted and convicted of the murder. Harris was imprisoned at the Ohio penitentiary in Columbus. Only a year after Sgt. Rice’s murder, on October 23, 1940
Harris was executed in the electric chair, ‘Old Sparky’. He is thefirst murderer of a Dayton police officer to be executed
and the only
Dayton police killer to be put to death.
§ On January 17, 1916
, Ptl. John Stapleton
became the first
(of two) Daytonpolice officers to die in the line of duty in a motorcycle accident
. Ptl. Stapleton
was closely following a fire truck on N. Main Street to a residential fire scene. When the truck turn onto E. Burton Avenue, the officer slammed into the side of the fire engine. This was the second incident in which an officer died at a fire scene. In 1897, Sgt. Amer Kellar was killed when a fireman fell from a ladder onto the sergeant.
§ In 1921, the first newly-constructed Dayton “Central Police Station” was located at S. Ford and Sears Streets. Police operations and the city jail were managed from this building (now a vacant lot near the Dayton Dragons Fifth-Third Field). The police headquarters - the office of the chief, upper command staff, detectives, records section and court - remained located at S. Main and Market Streets (now the Greater Dayton RTA main bus terminal).
§ On September 24, 1927
, Captain John C. Post
became the first
(and only) Daytonpolice commander to die in the line of duty
. He and two other officers were shot by a fugitive in a boarding house on Franklin Street. Capt. Post died and the other officers recovered. The suspect also died of gunshot wounds. The DaytonFraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 44
is named in honor of Capt. John C. Post
. Seventeen (17) of Dayton’s 24 fallen officers have been killed by gunfire.
§ On February 23, 1928
, Ptl. William ‘Tom’ Wilson
became the first black Dayton police officer killed on duty
when he was shot during a domestic-related disturbance on Royal Street. He was the first of three black officers to die in the line of duty. Ptl. Wilson
was also the fourth Dayton police officer killed in the bloodiest period in Dayton police history. Four officers were shot to death in four separate incidents in five months.
§ On April 1, 1929, the first black Dayton policewoman was appointed. Dora (Burton) Rice, a first cousin to Paul L. Dunbar, was a sworn member of the Dayton Policewoman’s Bureau for 10 years, resigning on January 20, 1939 due to poor health. Ten months later, her husband, Sgt. Lucius Rice, was murdered. The second black Dayton police woman was appointed on July 16, 1943. Diana (Dickens)Robinson served for 19 years until her unexpected death on December 29, 1962.
§ In 1931 the Dayton police uniform had a profound change. Previous to that time, officers wore long coats that covered the pants to the inseam. ‘Pocket pistols’ were carried in pants pockets and later in small holsters concealed beneath the uniform coat. The new uniform had, for the first time, leather gun belts worn on the outside of the coat, visible to citizens. The Sam Brown leather gear included a leather lanyard that supported the gun by extending over the shoulder.
§ On September 22, 1933
, Dayton was the nation’s first police department to arrest John Dillinger
after he began his notorious spree of bank hold-ups in the Midwest
upon his release from the Indiana State Penitentiary. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover would eventually name him the first “Public Enemy No. 1”. While in Dayton, Dillinger was visiting his girlfriend Mary Longnecker in a boarding house on W. First Street when he was arrested by three Dayton police officers: Det. Russell Pfauhl
, Det. Sgt. Charles Gross
and uniform Sgt. William Aldredge
§ In 1934, the Dayton Police Department was the first law enforcement agency in the state of Ohio outside of Cleveland to have a ballistic laboratory. The laboratory was designed to link bullets found at the scenes of crimes with guns of suspected criminals. The laboratory was initially located at the Market Street Headquarters in the bureau of identification and four police officers were trained to be ballistic experts in the department. The police firearms range was in the basement of the building.
§ This is not a ‘first’ but it is a ‘point of pride’. By 1935, Chief Rudolph Wurstner had served as the Dayton police chief for 10 years and that year became the Nation’s Dean of Police Chiefs (i.e. the longest-serving police chief for a major city). He held that distinction, incredibly, for the next 14 years until he retired in June 1949.
was appointed ‘Chief of Police’ a full seven years before our longest-serving U.S. President, Franklin Roosevelt, was elected. He was still the chief a full four years after Roosevelt had died. Wurstner’s full career extended nearly 47 years
having begun in 1902. Chief Wurstner was inducted into the Dayton Walk of Fame
in 2012, the only police officer ever so honored.
§ In 1936, Sgt. Matthew Kirkpatrick became the first Dayton police officer trained at the FBI Academy, only one year after the agency officially became the Federal Bureau of Investigation (previously the BOI - Bureau of Investigation). Sgt. Kirkpatrick would rise in rank over his career to become the Chief of Police. In 1949, Sgt. Richard Grundish became Dayton’s second officer to attend the FBI Academy. He would be promoted to captain and become Dayton’s Chief of Detectives.
§ On August 18, 1937
, the local newspapers reported that the Dayton Division of Police had established the area’s first Homicide Unit
. Although the homicide detectives were Dayton officers, the unit was created to be drawn on by regional communities to investigate murders in the vicinity of Dayton. This was the evolution of investigative work that began with single detectives (1870s), to targeted crime details
(1910s), to detective squads
(1920s) for addressing specific criminal offenses.
§ This is not a ‘number one’
but it is three ‘ones’
. On March 2, 1938
, the Dayton FOP was thenation's 111th local lodge
to be chartered by the National Fraternal Order of Police
. There are over 2,100 local FOP lodges nationwide and over 325,000 members through 2012. The Dayton FOP is a pioneer in the proud history of the Fraternal Order of Police as was noted on entries for 1940 and 1942. Dayton’s Capt. John C. Post Lodge
is named after the police commander killed ten years earlier.
§ In 1939, Ptl. Theodore Heywood became Dayton’s first officer assigned to a three-wheel motorcycle. Manufactured by Harley-Davidson from 1932 to 1973, the ‘Servi-Car’ was a three-wheeled utility motorcycle that proved to be particularly popular with police departments across the country. Dayton adopted the three-wheelers in 1939 and built a fleet that was used for traffic enforcement purposes through the 1960s.
§ On May 23, 1940
, local businessmen supporting Dayton police officers started the nation’s first Fraternal Order of Police Associates organization
. Dayton FOPA
Lodge No. 1
became the first of its kind in the United States when chartered on November 18, 1941 by its original members: the founder of Van Dyne Crotty; president of Delscamp Paint & Glass; owners of Schlientz & Moore and Morris Sons funeral homes; a florist; a restaurateur; two attorneys; and a soft drink distributor.
§ In August 1940
Dayton became the first police department in the nation to install two-way radios in its entire fleet of patrol cars
(WPDM). Preparations for the installation of two-way radios
were first reported to the public in early 1938 by way of the annual ‘civic report’. According to a local newspaper, the first radio transmitter
was installed in a patrol car that year; however, the effort accelerated in anticipation of the visit of President Franklin Roosevelt to Dayton in October 1940 [a photo of the Dayton police patrol fleet is framed at the Motorola corporate offices in Chicago].
§ This is not a ‘number one’
but it is two ‘ones’
. On April 9, 1942
, DaytonFOP Ladies’ Auxiliary No. 11
was chartered by the National FOP Ladies’ Auxiliary, which was formed in 1941 originally as a women-only organization. In 2011, Linda Hennie was elected the National Auxiliary President
. She is the wife of retired Dayton detective David Hennie. Annually at the National Law Enforcement Memorial
Ceremony in Washington D.C., she escorts the family survivors of the year’s police officers killed in the line of duty to the front of the service where they are consoled by the U.S. President.
§ On June 24, 1942
, Sgt. George W. Wheeler
became the first black Dayton police officer to retire with a service pension
. He had a 32-year career
that would not be surpassed by another black police officer until 52 years later when Major Dallas Hill
retired with 33 years in 1994. The current greatest service longevity belongs to Detective Oliver Logan
with 35 years (2011).
§ This is not a ‘first’ but it is a ‘last’. In the summer of 1946, George “Bugs” Moran committed the last crime of his infamous career in Dayton and was successfully prosecuted after a Dayton police investigation. Moran was once the leader of the Chicago north-side gang that rivaled Al Capone’s south-side gang in the 1920s. Moran was in fact the target of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of February 14, 1929 but he escaped his own execution.
In 1946, Bugs Moran and his gang hijacked the car of John Kurpe, who had $10,000 in cash that he had just withdrawn from the Winters Bank at West Third and Broadway. The money was intended to cash the paychecks of factory workers. Moran and his gang were convicted of the robbery and sentenced to 10 years in prison. The local prosecutor was Mathias Heck, Sr., and father of Montgomery County’s current elected prosecutor.
§ On May 3, 1947
, Ptl. Sherman Nowlin
became the first
(of two) Daytonpolice officers to be killed traveling in a police patrol car
. In pursuit of a suspect, his police cruiser was truck by a train on E. First Street at the B&O railroad crossing. Ptl. Nowlin
had been appointed to the police force only seven days earlier. A train overpass was built at the location of the crash in 1953.
§ On July 25, 1949, Sgt. Lucius Gleaton became thefirst black uniformed sergeant to supervise a uniform officer... a one-man squad consisting of black Ptl. William Hummons. Sgt. Gleaton had served for 24 years when he died in 1961. Off. Hummons retired in 1978 after a 29-year career. Dayton integrated its police force early in its history but the numbers of black officers were relatively few. After World War II there was an increase but gradual and over several decades.
By the mid-point of the 20 Century, the Dayton Division of Police was a well-established law enforcement agency. The ‘firsts’ associated with its emergent infrastructure were fewer but progressive police initiatives became a steady source of ‘firsts’, particularly at the local level.
§ On January 1,1950, Plwn. Hazel Clark
– who had been the “supervisor” of the Policewoman’s Bureau since the retirement of Plwn. Sollers in 1944 – was conferred the rank of sergeant
, becoming the first woman to hold a police rank
. The Policewoman’s Bureau
had reported to the office of the Public Safety Director but was transferred to the Division of Police under Chief Wurstner. Sgt. Clark, who was appointed policewoman in 1926, served 27 years until her unexpected 1953 death.
§ This is not a ‘first’ but a ‘last’. On April 26,1950, the Dayton police force discontinued ambulance service, which had been one of its responsibilities from the time it acquired its first police wagon in 1883. Hospitals ended the need for “police surgeons” assigned to the force. The City privately contracted with Hoyne Funeral Home on E. Third Street for ambulance service until the Fire Department took over (and to this day) on July 1, 1956 with the purchase of four new ambulances.
§ On September 6, 1950, Ptl. Karl Lewis resigned from the Dayton police force to market his firearms innovations. Working with many different gun manufacturers over his career, Lewis invented the first interchangeable barrel revolver (Wesson) – promoted as “the most accurate silhouette revolver ever made” – the Colt Mark III, the Browning BLR lever-action rifle among many others. A U.S. Navy veteran and boxing champion, Lewis laid claim to more than 45 inventions.
§ On June 13, 1952, Dayton’s first radar speeding arrest was made by Ptl. Harold Murphy and Ptl. James Hopkins when they stopped a car traveling 45 miles per hour in front of Carillon Historical Park on S. Patterson Blvd. Unlike the 1904 speeding ticket, the officers were able to register the driver’s speed using new technology and were able to chase down the driver in a patrol car.
§ On February 24, 1954 construction began onthe SafetyBuilding at 335 W. Third Street. Originally intended to house the Public Safety Department (police and fire), it was the Dayton’sfirst universal law enforcement facility housing police administrative offices, training, dispatch center, city jail and municipal court. Starting in 1969, the department again decentralized its operations. The districts, training, dispatch, courts and jail moved to other locations.
§ On January 1, 1955, the first Dayton police force broadcast program aired. “Car 22” was a “safe driving” program airing on WING radio. On November 11, 1956, Dayton police broadcasted a program on television for the first time. “Dayton Police Call” aired on WHIO-TV every Monday at 6:45 p.m. for 15 minutes. These and other programs, such as “Buzz the Fuzz” on WDAO in the 1960s and the WHIO Traffic Air Scout, were public relations efforts and means to provide information.
§ On October 1, 1956, the Dayton Police Department established its first Juvenile Bureau. All six (6) policewomen, who had only a few years earlier come into the police department, were transferred to this new bureau because they had handled issues involving the community’s youth since 1914. Policewomen were still not uniform officers; that was more than 15 years away. Policewomen dressed in civilian attire but carried a badge and were armed with a gun, generally kept in their purse.
§ In September1959, Sgt. Russ Guerra became the first WHIO Traffic Air Scout. Hegave the morning and afternoon broadcasts while being flown in a plane piloted by Dayton Off. Dick Hale. Sgt. Guerra earned his pilot’s license and flew either a Cessna or helicopter while broadcasting for WHIO until he retired in 1972. Guerra was succeeded by Lt. Dick Stamm, Off. Tom Mundy, Det. Bob Yordy and Sgt. Mark Bowron, who has done the WHIO traffic report since 1984.
Russ Guerra was a WWII army veteran who was captured by the enemy during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. The POW was freed by Russian troops in 1945. Guerra joined the Dayton police force in 1948 and rose through the ranks to lieutenant and captain. In March 1969, Capt. Guerra was critically wounded in a gun battle with a robbery suspect but survived. Guerra would go on to be elected the Dayton FOP Lodge President and then to State Representative to 67th District from 1981 to 1992.
§ In 1961, the first black-white two-man uniform police crew was Ptl. Dallas Hill (black) and Ptl. John Stacey. Unlike Detectives Yendes and Rice, who 46 years earlier doubled up to work a “vice” detail, these two men were partners in a marked patrol car. Ptl. Stacey retired five years later after being shot in the line of duty and Ptl. Hill became a certified polygraph operator. Only five years earlier a local newspaper observed, “negro police [are] discussed for citywide patrol”[Jan. 6, 1956].
§ In 1966, the Dayton “Division of Police” for the first time formally became the Dayton Police Department. Although referred to as a “Police Department” from the earliest days, the Dayton Metropolitan Police Force (1873) was formed and managed by the Board of Police Commissioners and then, with the enactment of a new city charter (1914), it became a “Division” under the Department of Public Safety, along with the Division of Fire and Division of Signals and Telegraphs.
§ July 30, 1969, the first Dayton Police Academy was built at 3237 Guthrie Road. The first rookie class of 25 police recruits at the new facility began 23-weeks of training on August 18, 1969. The 1969 recruit class was the 52nd consecutive police cadet class since continuous police training began in 1946. Before then, police recruits were trained in rooms at Steele High School, City Hall and the Safety Building. The Police Academy is still in existence and the101st recruit class began in 2012.
§ In 1969, the Dayton Police Department began one the nation’s first Neighborhood Assistance Officer (NAO) Programs. Sgt. David Spencer initiated this program and trained citizens to patrol the streets in their own neighborhoods as well as manage traffic flow at special events and accident scenes. Armed with radios, these civilian volunteers became another set the eyes for the police force.
While meaningful ‘firsts’ having national standing, particularly in communications technology, continued for Dayton police over the next 40 years, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 began to have a profound impact on law enforcement entering the 1970s. It led to an accelerated new form of local ‘firsts’… reflected as much by gender as it did by race. At the time, there was a campaign to change the role of policewomen and increase the number of female officers to comply with Title VII. Significant to Dayton also was the formation of its three police crisis intervention teams in 1973, 1978 and 1980.
§ This is not a ‘first’ but it is national footnote. On September 24, 1973, Dayton began an academy class that would result with being one of the nation’s earliest major city police forces to have women patrol officers. Six women graduated from this academy class and were assigned to uniform patrol duties. The start of an academy class of women for assignment to patrol in Dayton took a law suit to remove the sex barrier that had existed since the beginning of law enforcement.
When the Dayton Academy Class graduated, the local newspapers reported that Dayton was one of the “few in the nation” to have women assigned to uniform street duty and “one of the first in Ohio.” In 1973, the New York City Police Department had made the same transition for the first time in its history, although the Indianapolis Police Department has asserted to having placed two women on patrol as early as 1968.
§ In 1973
, the Dayton Police established it first Bomb Squad
to deal with threats of explosive devices
.Arson investigator Claude ‘Bud’ Spitler
, and homicide detective William Fricker
were the first bomb technicians. In the mid-‘70s, bombings were in the news: The Weather Underground Organization (the Weathermen) detonated dynamite in a NYPD police headquarters and an attempt was made by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) to explode a bomb under an LAPD patrol car.
§ In 1973
, the murder rate in the city was 105
respectively, ignominiously making Dayton first in murders per capita in the United States
. Included in those numbers were Dayton Police Sgt. William Mortimer
, who was shot while searching an apartment complex for the killer of local civil rights activist, and the murder victim, W. C. McIntosh. This was the second duty-related death for the Mortimer family. The sergeant’s brother, Sgt. Paul Mortimer
, died in 1970.
Another Dayton murder making national news occurred a year later. On September 19, 1975, Neal Bradley Long shot and killed Dr. Charles Glatt as he worked on a school desegregation plan in the federal courthouse. Long was arrested on the spot but it was discovered afterward that he was a serial killer who had randomly shot black people in Dayton during a four-year period, killing at least seven and wounding 12 others. Long was charged with the murders and convicted, receiving a life sentence.
§ In 1976, the first Dayton police SWAT Team (then called the Tactical Response Team) was born out of court-ordered busing. A ruling on an April 17, 1972 Dayton desegregation case had national impact when the local federal district court ordered busing for the entire Dayton public school system. The 1976 implementation of Dr. Glatt’s busing plan brought anxiety to the community that tensions might break open (not an unrealistic concern given the murder of Dr. Glatt).
Dayton's ‘heavy weapons’ officers
(a contingent of the police's best marksmen) were assigned four members each in unmarked cars in each of four police districts to drive around the schools unnoticed. They were armed with a Thompson submachine gun, shotgun and gas gun and sniper rifle (if needed), to protect against any outbreak in violence. The assignment lasted for several weeks but was relatively uneventful. In 1977, four of these marksmen were sent to FBI sniper training in Chillicothe.
In 1978, FBI came to Dayton to conduct anti-terrorism training and, soon after, the Tactical Response Team
was formed under the command of Lt. Billy Faulkner
. Throughout the 1980s, the team grew in size and acquired better weaponry. By 1993 it was renamed the Special Weapons & Tactical Team (SWAT)
, came under the command of Lt. Robert Chabali
and attained far-reaching recognition.
§ This is not a ‘number one’ but it is two ‘ones’. In august 1976 Dayton Sgt. James Hopkins was named the 11th National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by PARADE magazine and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Known as “Buzz the Fuzz” on WDAO radio, he “spent seven years as the friendly law enforcement voice on a call-in program for the black community.” [source: PARADE 9-30-1990]. The award began in 1966 and is presented annually.
§ In 1977, the Dayton Police Department formed its Police Policy Bureau, one of the nation’s first of its kind. When the PARADE award was presented to Sgt. Hopkins, it was also for his efforts in establishing and standardizing police policies and procedures that would become a prototype for many other police agencies nationwide. Today’s Dayton Police Manual of Procedure (MOP) is a product of that Bureau and is still a model that is drawn upon by other police agencies.
§ On November 8, 1978, Dayton Off. Vickie Hensley became the first woman promoted to the rank of sergeant. She was the first woman to earn this rank through competitive testing against men during the civil service examination process. She was the first woman assigned to supervise uniform patrol officers. Later, after promoted to the rank of lieutenant, she became the first female District Commander. The promotion was a landmark event in Dayton police history.
Back in 1950 when Hazel Clark was conferred the rank of sergeant, she had already been promoted to supervisor of the Policewoman’s Bureau (1944). She had tested against only one other woman at the time. In September 1970, Plwn. Nancy Breen applied to test against other policemen but her application was rejected because the position was posted as open only for “patrolmen”. Despite federal law, the City of Dayton questioned whether women could perform all sergeant assignments.
§ In January 1980
, the Dayton’s first Hostage Negotiation Team
(HNT) was formed. It originated in concept in 1978, arising from changes in emergency response practices that were developing nationwide in combination with a local incident
that occurred on December 8, 1978 at 112 Marathon Avenue
. In that case, a man barricaded himself in his house, claiming he was holding two children at gunpoint and had the house booby-trapped with explosives.
After a six-hour siege, gasoline exploded on the second floor of the house causing a fire and the man died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. This incident was the local catalyst for the formation of a trained, professional hostage negotiation team
. Lt. Dan Baker
was appointed the first the HNT commander in 1978 and charged with forming the team. It became nationally
recognized for its effectiveness and the training expertise it offered to others in law enforcement and the general public.
Members of Dayton’s HNT trained police officers throughout the Midwest and corrections officials at all Ohio prisons; gave a 1983 presentation to national CBS affiliates in Salt Lake City on “The Role of the Media” at crisis incidents; were featured on the Law Enforcement Television Network in 1989; and took part with efforts to end to the hostage taking during the Lucasville Prison Riot in 1993.
§ On January 1, 1983, Tyree S. Broomfield became the first black man appointed to the position of Chief of Police of the Dayton Police Department. Previously, he had been the first black person appointed to the upper command positions of Superintendent/Major (7-31-1972) and Assistant Police Chief (8-25-1975). Chief Broomfield was the advocate for new methods at crisis intervention (such as the Hostage Negotiation Team) and advances in dispatching technology.
§ In 1986
, after Motorola and Dataradio produced the first in-cruiser keyboard date terminals
(KDT), the Dayton Police Department became the nation’s first to install KDT units (16K)
in its police patrol cruisers. Today, city police cruisers nationwide operate with units to access traffic, criminal and other records at the touch of a keyboard. At the time, Dayton’s in-car units had four times the memory and computer power of other keyboard units that were being placed on the market.
§ On January 4, 1988, Off. Nancy Breen became the first female Dayton police officer to retire with a service pension. She had a 31-year career that would not be surpassed by another rank and file police woman until 23 years later in2011. Off. Donna Pack, who joined the police force in February 1975 and was appointed to the police academy a year later, was on the police department nearly 36 years –35 as a sworn officer–thelongest serving woman when she retired.
§ In 1988
when the first-generation Motorola KDT 480
went on-line with the Signal Building
, the Dayton Police Department became the nation’s first police force to run at 100% signal efficiency
… in other words, no missed calls. No other police agency believed 100% efficiency could be achieved. At the time, 92% efficiency was considered an extraordinary level.
§ By 1989
Dayton developed the world’s first high speed law enforcement data network
... a technology analogous to having cable service when all others in the country had dial-up. According to retired Lt. Barry Bales
, the Dayton police point man for this innovative computer dispatch technology
, Motorola liked to compare Dayton PD to San Francisco PD in that SFPD “had seven times the units but DPD ran ten times more data
§ In May 1990
, the Dayton Police Bicycle Patrol became the first present-day bicycle unit
in a major city east of the Mississippi and established itself on the national forefront with its pioneering efforts and training. The Bicycle Patrol Unit
started with Off. Charles Hurley
and Off. Ernest Letlow
and then 18 others who rode Cannondale bikes their entire shift no matter the weather. Officers were assigned to the downtown area, augmenting or sometimes replacing walking patrol assignments
§ In 1991, Dayton Off. Allan Howard collaborated with a Minnesota officer in founding the International Police Mountain Bike Association (IPMBA). The two developed a training program that adapted bicycles to law enforcement demands by integrating police tactics. In 2006, the 16th Annual IPMBA Conference came “home” to Dayton. Police officers attending represented 34 states as well as Australia, Canada, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
§ On March 21. 1991
, Off. William ‘Steve’ Whalen
became the first Daytonpolice officer to be killed by an assault weapon
– an AR-15 rifle – after he stopped a truck at Xenia and St. Paul Avenues. The truck was broadcasted as being driven by a shooting suspect. The suspect instantly opened fire on the officer when pulled over. Off. Whalen
’s killer was convicted and sentenced to serve life in prison. The Steve Whalen Blvd.-Wyoming Connector
is named after the slain officer.
§ In 1993, Chief James Newby instituted the Dayton Police Department’s first helicopter patrol unit, using confiscated drug money to purchase and operate a helicopter. The proposal was developed by Sgt. David Sawmiller, a licensed airplane pilot. Dayton’s first two helicopter pilots were Sgt. Michael Armocida and Sgt. Larry Hunt. A Robinson R22 helicopter was purchased and took to the air registered as “DP335” (the address of the Safety Building at 335 W. Third Street).
Dayton's helicopter operation began with full-time flight. It then went from part-time to on-call use but ended by 1998 when the City determined it was no longer viable. Thirty years earlier, Chief Paul Price had considered acquiring a helicopter (1960), at the time the traffic air scout began. It did not happen. The only feasible options for air surveillance were mutual aid from the Kettering Police Department, which had a helicopter in the 1970s, or through the cooperation of the WHIO Air Scout.
§ On April 25, 2002
, Off. Mary Beall
was the first
(and only) female Dayton police officer to be killed in the line of duty
when she was shot on Kensington Avenue
while intercepting an armed suspect involved in a domestic dispute. Her death came two year after she was shot on May 15, 2000 (which also happens to be National Law Enforcement Memorial
Day). Her murderer was convicted of the crime and died in prison in 2010 of natural causes.
§ On June 6, 2007, Lt. Col. Wanda D. Smith became the first woman appointed to head the Dayton Police Department as the Interim Chief of Police. She served as the Chief of Police until January 28, 2008. Earlier in her career, she was the first woman to be promoted at two other command ranks: Lieutenant in 1985 and Deputy Chief of Police in 2002.
§ On May 1, 2009, Off.Dyan Thomasbecame the first female assigned to patrol duties as a Dayton police motorcycle officer. She completed her training and was certified to operate a police motorcycle by instructor Off. Johnny Watts. The first woman motorcycle officer was Off. Sandra Thorp, although she was only permitted to officially ride one time … during a Police Memorial Ceremony in the late 1990s.
A few new ‘Firsts’ for the Dayton Police Department are expected to surface during the decade of 2010 as well as throughout the entire 21st Century and beyond. Information regarding Dayton Police ‘Firsts’ – both Past and Present – are always welcome. Readers who have a ‘First’ to suggest, please e-mail: