Friday, October 19, 2018

The Thin Blue line: Oklahoma City Police Department Pt 2

1889 Oklahoma City Police Dept. Flag
Wikimedia Commons,
By Alanna Radle Rodriguez and Judge Rodriguez

Hello Friends!
Thank you for joining us this month as we continue our series about first responders in our great state.

First allow us to say: we wish to pay our respects to the brave men and women of our military, and let them know our thoughts and prayers are with them, particularly those currently on deployment outside our country and away from their families.

However, we also wish to add our gratitude to those that serve outside of our military forces as well. Also called the thin blue line, this group of dedicated public servants serve to keep us, our families, and our property safe. Our hats are off to you, and our gratitude for all you do.
Last month, we recalled the story of the Oklahoma City Police department, up to when Bill Tilghman took over.
Bill Tilghman, 1912
Wikimedia Commons
Marshall Tilghman was the Chief of Police in Oklahoma City for two years (1911-1913), during which time he cleaned up not only the streets, but the police force as well. At the time crime was rampant, and Oklahoma City more closely resembled Dodge City in the mid-1870’s with brothels, saloons, and opium dens. At this time, there was also endemic corruption and brutality in the police force as well. In the two years Tilghman was chief, he was able to clean up not only the streets, but the police force as well. This had the effect of having OCPD be known as one of the most incorruptible forces in the US.
After Chief Tilghman left office, the officers of the OCPD continued his efforts, particularly with the prohibition of alcohol, prostitution, and drugs on the streets. During World War I, the police department established a motorcycle division, which survives to today. They also established a call-box system, in which officers on the beat were required to call in hourly status reports.

In the early 1920’s, OCPD added a mounted unit to patrol the residential districts. Around this time, the Sicilian, and Irish mafia had started gaining control of much of OKC. This prompted the police department to create a “raiding squad” which eventually became “Vice” and to increase the force from 90 officers, to 150. This also forced the department into becoming more of a force of professionally trained officers, rather than just a loose collection of “untrained badges”.

The OCPD Raiding Squad with shotguns and tommy guns. Front center: Detective "Jelly" Bryce

During the Great Depression, however, OCPD also started up their “radio units”, which was a collection of patrol cars that had radios in them. One of the most notable officers from this time period was D.A. “Jelly” Bryce, known for his dapper appearance and for being a quick draw. He was featured in Life Magazine and was timed electronically at two-fifths of a second. It was stated in the article “if a criminal blinked at him, he would die with his eyes closed”.

Thank you, for joining us this month as we discuss a part of the history of the Oklahoma City Police Department, and please join us next month as we cover the history of the Department from World War II further.

Born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, Alanna Radle Rodriguez is the great-great granddaughter of one of the first pioneers to settle in Indian Territory. Judge was born and raised in Little Axe, Oklahoma, the son of A.F. Veterans. Judge and Alanna love the history of the state and relishe in volunteering at the 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse in Edmond. Her first published story, part of a collaborative novella titled Legacy Letters, came out September 2016. Alanna and Judge live with her husband and parents in the Edmond area. They are currently collaborating on a historical fiction series that takes place in pre-statehood Waterloo, Oklahoma.

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