HISTORY OF THE MASSILLON POLICE DEPARTMENT
Researched by Officer Kenneth Hendricks
In 1853, Adam Holderbaum was appointed as the first marshal of the City of Massillon by the mayor at that time, Samuel Pease, after his first election on May 28, 1853.
On April 3, 1854, John Simon was appointed Marshal after Mayor Pease's second election.
The salaries for the marshal at this time, under City Ordinance No. 129, was $500 per year. However, on May 5, 1869, City Ordinance No. 138 raised the salary to $800 per year.
In 1887 through 1888, City Council had a standing committee??p;quot;City Prison and Police" under the administration of Mayor Josiah Franz.
In 1889 through 1891, Adam Wendling was appointed Marshal, and the first police force of five (5) policemen was started. The patrolmen were: Thomas Hagan, Godfrey Maier, Jerry Kitchen, Frank Ertle, and Louis Stilke.
In 1894, Adam Wendling was succeeded by H.S. Markel as City Marshal.
In 1903, Edward M. Ertle was appointed Marshal here by Mayor Bernard Bell. While marshal, Edward Ertle faced the tragedy of two of Massillon's policemen being killed by a train while attempting to stop an altercation at the Massillon Train Depot, and Officer William E. Quinn being ambushed and shot by an assailant with a .32 caliber revolver at W. Tremont and Duncan while the officer was walking his beat. In September of 1920, Marshal Ertle resigned from the police department and took a position of park patrolman. Gottlieb Dommer was appointed marshal in his place and served the City as the marshal for two years. The first Civil Service test was given for Chief of Police, and Edward M. Ertle scored highest on the test out of 500 applicants and was given the title of Chief of Police by Mayor Herbert N. Vogt on September 1, 1922. Soon after being named Chief of Police, Ertle also was made drum major of the once-famed Massillon band, and games of the old Massillon Tigers football teams were never complete unless the Chief strutted ahead of his musicians between halves.
In May of 1934, Chief Ertle marked the end of his fortieth year in law enforcement here. The Chief recalled the days of pounding the beat before the advent of automobiles and hauling in drunks who had been arrested in wheelbarrows. Chief Ertle also recalled that he never once was shot at, had wrested guns twice from would-be assailants, and had his share of thrills, particularly in coping with gangsters in Massillon's tough Columbia Heights section during the prohibition days.
Chief Ertle pinned the chief's badge on Stanley W. Switter on September 1, 1935. During Chief Switter's tenure, the department personnel jumped from 18 to 26, including a superintendent of the Bureau of Identification and Records and 3 captains. Likewise, the department progressed in other ways. A two-way radio hookup between headquarters in the City Hall and police vehicles was installed, a new call box system was put into service, and the police station was remodeled to take care of modern equipment. Chief Switter also faced the tragedy of a police officer being killed in the line of duty. Patrolman Myron Henderson was killed by an assailant with a .22 caliber revolver while working the desk at the police station. The assailant, Lester M. Martin, was also killed by gunfire from another police officer at the station.
In 1955, the Massillon Police Department had hired its first black police officer, Lemie Gibson, under Chief Switter's administration.
On August 21, 1959, Glenn Keller became Chief of Police. Chief Keller was named acting Chief of Police by the same acting mayor, William J. Keen, who would be required to act on his resignation. Keen, serving for Mayor Raymond Ryan, was filling in during the absence from the City of former Mayor Edgar Lash, when the then acting police chief, John Pettit, submitted his resignation. Pettit had been named acting chief only a month before following Chief Stanley Switter. Glenn Keller served as acting chief from August until September of 1959, when he made the highest grade in the Civil Service examination for captain and was named to the chief's post permanently. During his term in office, he had reorganized the police department with a captain heading each of the three divisions. Captain Hardesty was in charge of records, Captain Wentzel was in charge of investigations, and Captain DiLoreto was in charge of the uniformed shifts. Chief Keller also arranged training schools for the officers in 1960 and 1961 and introduced a merit system into police department procedures for the first time. He also was responsible for the revamping of the records and filing systems in use in the department. In 1961, while Chief Keller was still in office, the Massillon Police Department organized under the Fraternal Order of Police, and at a later time, named their lodge in honor of Patrolman Henderson.
On March 1, 1962, James A. DiLoreto became head of the police department. Through his guidance, the police department increased in strength from 26 officers to 44 police officers. While Chief DiLoreto was in office, he had the unpleasant duty of being the first to remove a police officer (Marvin P. Paradeses) from the force and later arresting him on charges of soliciting bribes. The department was reorganized in 1973 as follows: 1 chief, 3 captains, 3 lieutenants (first time for this rank to exist), 3 sergeants, and 34 patrolmen. Chief DiLoreto had encouraged his officers to further their education in the field of police work, and of the 44 men on the department, 14 were attending college on their own time. During his time in office, Chief DiLoreto had watched the department progress with the purchase of new and modern radio equipment, microfilm equipment, and recording equipment for transcribing reports by the police officers. Chief DiLoreto was also involved with the planning and development of the present City Hall and Police Department that was being built. Completion of this building was in time for our country's Bi-Centennial. On July 20, 1979, Frederick Kirkbride became the Chief of Police. While chief, the department continued to grow, and new concepts were added to its development. A tactical unit (Special Operations Squad) was formed with Captain Bryan as its team leader. The first K-9 team was formed in 1983 with Patrolman Carl Spicocchi and "Wolf" as its first and only team, working together for six months, at which time Patrolman Sam Miller became the handler for "Wolf" until 1986.
On August 9, 1980, the first female police officer for the City of Massillon was hired onto the department, Pam Whitmyer. History was again made with the hiring of Sylvia Simms as the first black female police officer.
On July 16, 1984, Richard Bryan became the Chief of Police. Chief Bryan began to further the education of his officers, with several being selected for specialized training. Chief Bryan also began to have his department work more closely with several of the federal law enforcement agencies to close investigations, etc.
While chief, a tragedy almost happened in which a police officer was shot but, fortunately, only injured. The police department was alerted about a shooting that had occurred at a New Year's party at 523 Fourth Street, N.E. One of the persons at the party had shot a friend, Terry Slider, who had been killed. When several of the police officers had arrived at the scene, Patrolman Alan Climer had attempted to talk to the suspect, Gregory Purdy, to surrender himself. Instead, Purdy had fired at Patrolman Climer, shooting him in the right hand; and in return fire, Patrolman Climer wounded Purdy who was later arrested. Patrolman Climer became the third Massillon police officer shot and the first to survive his wounds.
In 1986, Chief Bryan suffered a heart attack and elected to retire after completing nearly 29 years of service.
On November 21, 1986, Dennis D. Harwig became the Police Chief, and he continued with the policy of furthering the officers' education and training. Chief Harwig began his career on December 1, 1964 and moved up the ranks, beginning with his promotion to sergeant on March 25, 1973. On October 22, 1979, Harwig was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and to captain in charge of the Investigation Division on July 18, 1984.
In September of 1987, the Drug, Alcohol Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program was initiated with Patrolman Alan Climer as the department's D.A.R.E. officer. This program is targeted at educating young students in the Massillon School system (kindergarten to sixth grade) about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. The fifth grade students are the main targeted age group of this program, and students participate in this class as they would in other related school subjects.
In August 1988, Chief Harwig reactivated the police department's K-9 program by bringing "Wolf" back to service with Patrolman Sam Miller as his handler and added to its ranks two additional police officers and their K-9 counterparts, Patrolman David Bauschka and "Champ" along with Patrolman Sharon Layne and "Kato." Patrolman Layne also became the first female K-9 handler on the police department. The K-9 officers and their four-legged counterparts received 14 weeks of intensified training prior to going on active duty as a team. Every three weeks after completing the initial training program, both the handler and K-9 must attend refresher training to keep both at top performance level.
On November 11, 1988, the Massillon Police Department adopted their third and present department shoulder patch. Several designs were submitted to the department by its members, and the present patch, designed by Patrolman Thomas Chapman, was voted on and accepted.
Chief Harwig reorganized the police department in June 1988 by creating four additional sergeant positions?? additional sergeant on each of the patrol shifts, and the fourth assigned to the Morals Bureau/Narcotics.
The Massillon Police Department has a law enforcement Explorer Post program, assisting the local young adults (ages 14 to 20) in their interest in becoming police officers, that had been deactivated but was again activated under Chief Harwig. The Explorer Post program is a Chapter of the Boy Scouts of America in which both young men and women are educated and receive hands-on experience in the career field of law enforcement.
On June 24, 1991, Mark D. Weldon became the Chief of Police, the eighth person to hold the highest rank of the police department and the twelfth person to be titled as the head of the City's law enforcement.
Chief Weldon began his career with the Massillon Police Department on February 12, 1979, and moved through the ranks quickly in 12 years. Chief Weldon stated that he plans to continue in furthering the police officers' training and education and is looking forward to guiding the department into the next century.
Chief Weldon made the decision to have his department more involved in the war on drugs and had an officer assigned to the Stark METRO Narcotics Unit, the first time that the police department had become involved in quite a few years.
Shortly after the donation of the camcorder, the Massillon Police Department also began a Hug-A-Bear program. Hand-sewn teddy bears were donated to the Massillon Police Department by the retirees of the Telephone Pioneers of Ohio. These teddy bears are for use for the police officers when dealing with a traumatized child.
This history has not been updated in several years. We will be updating in the next couple of months (5/12/98).