Monday, November 19, 2018

The Thin Blue line: Oklahoma City Police Department Pt 3

1889 Oklahoma City Police Dept. Flag
Wikimedia Commons,

By Alanna Radle Rodriguez and Judge Rodriguez

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.

Over the last couple of months, we have been covering the history of the Oklahoma City Police Department, and its roots in not only the US Cavalry, but the US Marshall’s Service as well. Last Month we covered up to the end of the Great Depression, talking about the service of Detective Jelly Bryce.

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

At the end of his tenure with the OCPD, Jelly Bryce became a Special Agent in Charge for the FBI in Oklahoma City. After his tenure there, he ran for, and was not elected as governor of the state of Oklahoma.

It was during World War II that the department suffered a severe manpower shortage. Up until this time, all positions required being an officer. It was during this time, that the decision was made that many of the clerical positions be allowed to have civilians employed. This freed up the officers to allow them to manage their assigned tasks.

After the completion of WWII, OCPD instituted a new training unit to increase the specialization, and professionalism of the recruits. They were put through a one hundred forty-four hour course. It was also during this time that the department created new divisions for burglary, traffic, white collar, and fingerprinting.

During the 1960’s, the department established a formal police academy, a K-9 unit, and a formal Forensics Unit. In 1969, the force started issuing the officers their firearms, a Smith and Wesson .38 special revolver. Up until this time, it was incumbent on the officers to provide their own weapons.

In the 1970’s, the OCPD began the Alcohol Safety Action Project (ASAP), the Selected Enforcement Unit (SEU), Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), and added a helicopter to its list of resources. In ‘75 the officers went on a work slowdown to protest their low wages, and during the dispute, almost all six hundred officers turned in their badges. During the strike, The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Department, and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol provided safety and security for the residents of Oklahoma City. After several days, however, an agreement was reached and the officers went back to work.

Thank you for joining us this month as we delved into the history of the Oklahoma City Police Department. We hope you enjoyed reading about this great institution, and join us next month, for the conclusion of the OCPD part of the Thin Blue Line series.

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 relish 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 parents in the Edmond area. They are currently collaborating on a historical fiction series that takes place in pre-statehood Oklahoma.


  1. Thank you for continuing this series. It's interesting to me that forensics started in the '60's. I don't think it was spoken of much back then, certainly not brought to the forefront because of television shows and news reports like it is today.

    1. You are so right, Connie. It was very much behind the scenes then. So much has changed in just the past forty or so years. I wonder what the next half-century will bring...