Ian Griggs examines the basic structure and organisation of the Dallas Police Department in November 1963. Ian will be updating this information with material on the Criminal Investigation Depatment and Crime Scene Service Section later.
As a retired career police officer in the U.K. (1971-1994) it is only natural that one of my specialist areas of research into the assassination of President Kennedy should be the Dallas Police Department. I have studied the DPD for several years, naturally concentrating on the period between 22nd and 24th November 1963. Inevitably, I have occasionally made comparisons between the DPD of 1963 and its modern counterpart. Similarly I have sometimes compared the differences in general policing methods, particularly in the investigative field, as carried out in the USA and the UK.
Through my research activities, including over a dozen visits to the USA, I have come to know US police officers based in various cities, of different ranks, with many specialist responsibilities and of both sexes. These contacts, particularly those in the Dallas Police Department itself, have proved of immense value. I firmly believe that the police service worldwide represents a form of 'club' and like Freemasons or the Rotary Club, every individual member can quickly locate a fellow member no matter where he may find himself.
In this paper, I have leant heavily on certain extracts from the Warren Commission 26 Volumes, including the testimony of many DPD officers, plus other official sources, documents traced and located in the US National Archives, certain documentation found during visits to City Hall, Dallas, the official history of the Dallas Police Department (Partners in Blue by Carlton Stowers) and personal meetings with serving and retired DPD officers.
As well as explaining the way each Division of the Department was divided up into its individual component parts, I have identified senior supervisory officers and included brief notes of some of the more notable individuals.
It is my hope and intention that this paper may become a valuable resource for future researchers seeking basic information on the organisational structure of the Dallas Police Department at the time of the assassination. With that in mind, it is also intended to publish this paper in the November 1998 issue of The Dealey Plaza Echo, the research journal of Dealey Plaza UK.
During a brief WFAA-TV street interview outside the Texas School Book Depository on the afternoon of Friday 22nd November 1963, DPD Captain J. Herbert Sawyer was asked how many police officers there were in Dallas. He replied: "Approximately thirteen hundred". His estimate was very close. In November 1963 the total number of DPD employees was 1,287, comprising 1,067 police officers (not including the Police Reserve) plus 220 civilians.
The first name on any list of DPD personnel was that of Jesse Curry, in his capacity as Chief of Police. He had assumed overall control of the DPD in 1960 and remained in that position until his retirement in 1966. Perhaps ironically, the final name on the DPD personnel list was that of somebody who may or may not have played a part in the assassination of President Kennedy but who was virtually unknown until 1990 when his son came forward to claim that his late father has shot JFK. I refer, of course, to Roscoe Anthony White. In November 1963, Roscoe White was one of three members of Recruit Class No. 79 who were described as 'awaiting school'.
Of the 1,067 police officers, only five were female. None had been promoted from the lowly rank of Policewoman and all five were employed in the Juvenile Bureau. This is a far cry from today's DPD where one of my contacts at City Hall is a charming lady who holds the position of Deputy Chief in the Crimes Against Persons Bureau. Much of this changed attitude towards female officers emanated from the progressive policies of Frank Dyson (DPD Chief of Police, 1969-1979) who 'inherited' eleven policewomen when he assumed his post. He had the foresight to realize that they were capable of far more than just dealing with juveniles and he not only assigned them to other tasks but also brought about a steady increase in their numbers. He also allowed them to step on to the promotion ladder for the first time.
The civilian employees, 118 male, 102 female, filled a very wide variety of posts including clerks, typists, stenographers, telephone clerks, jailers, porters, auto pound drivers, etc.
In addition to the regular police officers there was a Police Reserve which appears to have fulfilled much the same role as the Special Constabulary in the UK. I have been unable to establish its precise strength but it operated under a Captain of Police and for administrative purposes was deemed part of the Training and Research Section. The Police Reserve is not included in my figures for the DPD numerical strength above.
Chief of Police Curry maintained a staff of 15 police offficers (including himself) as Headquarters personnel. They were supported by eight highly-qualified female civilians who were responsible for a wide range of clerical duties.
Curry's second-in-command was Assistant Chief of Police Charles Batchelor, the man who would succeed him as Chief (1966-1969) There were then five Deputy Chiefs of Police, one in command of each of the Criminal Investigation, Patrol, Traffic and Service Divisions, plus one whose responsibilities were concerned with Civil Defence and Disaster Control. Chief Curry's Administrative Assistant was Captain Glen D. King, another of his staff who would later become Chief (1979).
Following these HQ and Administrative offices, was the Special Service Bureau; the first of the specialised departments.
It operated under the command of Captain W. P. ('Pat') Gannaway who was supported by six Lieutenants, 34 regular Detectives, 14 Patrolmen who were temporarily assigned to the Bureau, and four female civilians (one stenographer and three clerk-typists). The 14 'temporarily assigned' men were what we in the UK would call Aides to CID or TDCs (Temporary Detective Constables).
Initially, I had great difficulty in working out what the Special Service Bureau actually did. I soon established that 18 police officers, including Captain Gannaway, plus one of the female civilians, were mentioned in the Warren Commission 26 Volumes. Indeed, eight of them actually testified before the Commission and three of them had their names as titles of Commission Exhibits Careful study of the appropriate testimony, together with other DPD documents in my possession, finally enabled me to work out the purpose and responsibilities of the Special Service Bureau.
It was basically a covert surveillance and intelligence-gathering unit which, as well as the Criminal Intelligence Squad (CIS), encompassed the Vice Squad and the Narcotics Squad, etc. Its regular officers were plain clothes detectives and the temporarily assigned Patrolmen were there for one of two reasons. Some were genuinely 'on trial' or undergoing training prior to becoming full-time detectives whilst others had been drafted in from the uniform branch to undertake basic undercover work in areas where their faces would not be known. A similar system exists in the UK, and probably in other countries, today.
The testimony of Lieutenant Jack Revill (in 1982 to reach the rank of Assistant Chief) is very revealing in indicating the duties and responsibilities of the Special Service Bureau. He stated: "I am presently in charge of the criminal intelligence section." Later he outlined the overall task of the bureau: "Our primary responsibility is to investigate crimes of an organised nature, subversive activities, racial matters, labor racketeering, and to do anything that the chief might desire. We work for the chief of police. I report to a captain who is in charge of the bureau - Captain Gannaway." Revill later indicated that he had been assigned to an investigative panel whose task was to determine how Jack Ruby had gained access to the City Hall basement where he shot Oswald. This type of enquiry was obviously also the responsibility of the Special Service Bureau.
For a very revealing account of the functions of the CIS, see Philip H. Melanson's article Dallas Mosaic, published in The Third Decade, Vol. 1, No. 3, (March 1985), pages 12-15. Among other things, Dr Melanson mentions that "the spooky little unit was physically removed from the rest of the DPD and was headquartered in a building on the state fairgrounds" (source IV HSCA 597). The use of the word "spooky" may or may not be a deliberate clue to something rather sinister!
The Patrol Division, the first of the four Divisions into which the majority of DPD personnal was divided, was by far the largest in terms of manpower. Deputy Chief of Police N. T. Fisher was its overall commandeer In November 1963, it had 526 members of whom all but three were police officers. They ranged in rank from Captain (just three) to Patrolmen (463). The DPD Canine Corps was also part of the Patrol Division. It consisted of just one Sergeant and two Patrolmen/Dog Handlers and had been formed in 1961 with the purchase of three German Shepherds. From the DPD radio log transcripts, it appears that both dog-handlers were on duty on 22nd November - but without their dogs (CE 1974, page 176 of exhibit).
Like the Traffic and Service Divisions, the Patrol Division was divided up into three Platoons. This represented nothing more than a basic revolving eight-hour shift pattern. The First Platoon worked from midnight to 8am, the Second Platoon from 8am to 4pm and the Third Platoon from 4pm to midnight. Obviously, that roster put the Second Platoon on duty during the hours of the presidential visit. In view of the additional manpower necessary to ensure the President's safety (!) some members of the other platoons were called in to assist.
Each Platoon was under the control of a Platoon Commander, these officers being the three Captains of Police mentioned earlier: William B. Frazier (First Platoon), Cecil E. Talbert (Second Platoon) and James M. Souter (Third Platoon). Each Platoon was then divided into a Headquarters Station and three Substations, one each for the North East Area, North West Area and South West Area. I have not yet established the exact geographical locations of these areas but I know that the NW Substation area included Love Field and the SW Substation was also known as the Oak Cliff Substation.
Several members of the Second Platoon of the Patrol Division have become well-known names through their actions or otherwise during the period 22nd-24th November 1963. Five that immediately spring to mind are: Patrolman J.D. Tippit, the man who came on duty but never completed the shift; Patrolmen Billy L. Bass and Marvin L. Wise, the officers who initially dealt with the so-called three tramps; Patrolman Roy S. Vaughn, who failed to notice Ruby enter the City Hall basement via the Main Street ramp and Patrolman Maurice N. ("Nick") McDonald, the officer who sustained the scratched cheek during his struggle to arrest Oswald in the Texas Theatre.
The 463 officers holding the rank of Patrolman were very much the 'foot soldiers' of the Dallas Police Department. During the events of 22nd November 1963, they were assigned both static and patrolling duties on foot, plus driving and observer tasks in police cruisers, that wonderful unique American expression for patrolling police cars.
This Division, the next largest in size after the Patrol Division, comprised 176 Police Officers and three civilians. It was under the command of Deputy Chief Ray H Lunday. He took no active part in the events of either 22nd or 24th November but was on duty in his office on the third floor of City Hall on the 22nd. He had, however, taken a leading part in the planning of the motorcade route through Dallas.
The Traffic Division was divided into five distinct components. These were Traffic Control; the Accident Prevention Bureau; a group of seven Special Assignment Men, ten School Safety Officers and the Solo Motorcycle and Special Enforcement Detail.
This was by far the largest of the five elements and like the Patrol Division it was composed of three Platoons, each working an eight-hour shift. Here, however, the shift hours were structured in such a way that there were more officers on duty during the day than at night. The First Platoon worked from 7am to 3pm with the Second Platoon overlapping as it worked 10am to 6pm. The Third Platoon then overlapped again, working 3pm to 11pm. Traffic Control was under the overall command of Captain R. A. Thompson.
Each platoon consisted of either one or two Sergeants, between 11 and 15 Patrolmen (on foot), between ten and 19 three-wheel motorcycle officers and one female civilian clerk.. The foot Patrolmen were deployed at static posts throughout the downtown area and because these were mainly at road intersections the officers were known within the DPD as "corner men" (7H 578).
This element was commanded by Captain Perdue William Lawrence. In the absence of Captain Thompson, he took over operational command of the entire Traffic Division on the day of the assassination and had previously worked with Deputy Chief Lunday on the motorcade assignments.
The bureau, which presumably carried out exactly the duties its title suggests, consisted of four shift sections organised in an overlapping rota system which covered the period 7.00am to 2.00am. One Lieutenant, four Sergeants and 32 Patrolmen made up the unit. Two of its members, both normally employed as accident investigators, were Patrolmen J. C. White and J. W. Foster. These two officers were deployed on the triple underpass during the motorcade. Another accident investigator, Patrolman Charles T. Walker, found himself very closely involved in the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald and the subsequent removal of Oswald to City Hall (7H 34-43).
These seven individuals present something of a problem. They appear to come under the command of a Sergeant but neither their ranks nor their responsibilities are easy to find. Perhaps they were some sort of back-up or reserve. Only one of them warrants a mention in the 26 Volumes, E. L. Crenshaw being described by another officer as a Detective. This, however, is only in connection with a semi-clerical task a couple of days after the assassination (12H 214).
Ten individuals are listed and named. No supervisory officer is identified and they all performed duties from 7.30am to 4.30pm. Perhaps they were the Dallas equivalent of lollipop men! Not surprisingly, none of them is mentioned in the Warren Report or the 26 Volumes.
This unit played a major part in the presidential motorcade and several of its members have become well-known to researchers. Obvious names which spring to mind include motorcyclists Bobby Hargis (splattered with blood and brain tissue as he rode slightly behind and to the left of the presidential limousine), Marrion Baker(encountered Oswald inside the TSBD), Hollis B McLain (thought by some researchers to be responsible for the 'open mike') and the ubiquitous E.D. ('Buddy') Brewer (one of the lead motorcyclists through Dealey Plaza and on to Stemmons; proceeded to TSBD, was on sixth floor when three empty shells and rifle were found, claimed to have seen the paper sack - later stated that his "primary job was traffic control"!)
The detail was made up of four Sergeants, ten officers on radar duties (in cars) and 22 solo motorcyclists. These officers were divided into two shifts and together they covered the daily period 6.00am to midnight. On 22nd November 1963, however, I can trace only that three of the four Sergeants were on duty, together with 15 of the 22 motorcyclists. I can find no available record of the duties of the radar car drivers for that day.
You are advised to consult Todd Wayne Vaughan's Presidential Motorcade Schematic Listing, (self-published, 1993) for full details of the motorcyclists, their exact positions in the motorcade and their actions following the shooting. Oddly enough, although 18 motorcyclists rode in the motorcade, only five were asked to testify before the Warren Commission (Hargis, Baker, Brewer, Martin and Haygood).
This was an administrative rather than an operational Division and perhaps for this reason it had the highest percentage of civilian employees of any of the four Divisions. Its total strength of 284 was comprised of just 97 police officers and 187 civilians. The Division was based mainly at DPD HQ (City Hall) with a few members at the three substations. Overall command of the Division rested with Deputy Chief of Police George L. Lumpkin and each of its separate elements - bureaux, sections, etc. - had its own head.
Several units within the Service Division played important roles in the events of 22nd November 1963 and the days immediately following.
This small bureau was under the command of Captain George M Doughty and was made up of just one operational section. It was located on the fourth floor of City Hall.
Supervised by Lieutenant Karl P. Knight, this section was staffed by five full-time Detectives, two Acting Detectives and four male civilian clerks. The Section was concerned with the physical fingerprinting of suspects rather than actual crime scene examination. The photograph and fingerprints of Lee Harvey Oswald were taken by members of the section about an hour before his arraignment in the early hours of Saturday 23rd November (4H 248).
Apart from Lieutenant Knight, only two members of the section were named in the 26 Volumes. Detective Edwin (or Edward) E. Carlson seemed to be on very good terms with Jack Ruby. An FBI Report stated that "Carlson is of the opinion that he, Carlson, knows more about Ruby than any other officer of the Dallas Police Department." (CE 1180). Acting Detective James M Craft was responsible for taking the well-known portrait photograph of Patrolman McDonald showing the scratches on his cheek sustained during Oswald's arrest (4H 277).
This important element played a major part in the immediate aftermath to the assassination, and its head, Lieutenant John Carl Day, became one of the best-known DPD figures. Lieut Day had just eight Detectives under him. Several of them were to become very well-known through their involvement in various ways. For example, Paul L. Bentley (the man with the big cigar at the Oswald arrest), Richard W ("Rusty") Livingstone (co-author of 1993 book First Day Evidence), Willie E. ("Pete") Barnes (DPD Tippit murder scene photographer - also administered the paraffin test to Oswald) and John B. Hicks (took Oswald's fingerprints on the evening of 22nd November and assisted Barnes with the paraffin test).
By far the largest part of the Service Division, the Headquarters Section consisted of 79 police officers and 183 civilians. They were split up into three Platoons, once again operating in a revolving eight-hour shift system (11pm to 7am, 7am to 3pm and 3pm to 11pm). The great majority of the personnel was based at City Hall where they filled the posts of Radio Dispatcher, Telephone Clerk, Jailer, Jail Guard, Jail Matron, Relief Patrolman, Jail Cook and Porter.
Each Platoon was under the command of a Lieutenant and other Lieutenants were in charge of the jail (within City Hall).
As far as the events of 22nd November 1963 are concerned, one of the most important people was undoubtedly Sergeant Gerald Dalton Henslee. He supervised the radio dispatcher's office and was also the police dispatcher for channel 2. His is the voice that can be heard on that channel during the presidential visit. Although his normal period of duty that day should have been 7am to 3pm, he did, in fact work from 6.30am to about 5.30pm. I cannot help but mention that prior to joining the DPD, one of his previous jobs had been as a dance instructor with the Arthur Murray Dance Studios (6H 325).
As mentioned above, the jail-based personnel came under the Headquarters Section umbrella. These comprised three Jailers, six Assistant Jailers, three Jail Matrons, 22 Jail Guards, 19 Jail Clerks and one Jail Cook. These posts were all filled by civilians.
The Service Division included the Warrant Section which was under the command of a Sergeant and had 20 uniformed officers performing what were basically clerical duties. He was supported by a female civilian clerk.
The four Court Bailiffs (civilians) were also included in the Service Division.
This bureau, under the command of a Police Captain (James M. English) supported by two Patrolmen and one General Clerk, was made up of the Property Room Section and the Automobile Pound Sction. A total of 33 personnel was employed in the bureau but none of them warrants a mention anywhere in the Warren Report. One name, however, may be familiar to those researchers who have studied the lists of property - particularly that seized during the searches of Oswald's rooming house and the Paine house.
Herman W. Hill was the Property Room Supervisor, and he, almost alone, was responsible for literally thousands of case exhibits. Everything from the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle to Lee Harvey Oswald's socks passed through his hands and his name and signature appear on dozens of police property receipts (see CE 2003: 24H 332-344). If any one DPD employee performed his duties in an exemplary fashion, and maybe deserved a gong for his performance, it was this man.
The Automobile Pound Section, under the command of Sergeant Thomas C. Sewell backed up by a Patrolman, was manned by 16 civilians. These ranged from Pound Supervisors to Wrecker Drivers and it appears that their duties were similar to the towaway crews we now have in the UK.
The final element of the Service Division was known as the Records Bureau. As well as that actual bureau, it included the Information Desk. It comprised 49 male and female civilians employed as clerks and stenographers of various grades and under the supervision of Captain of Police O. T. Slaughter supported by a Sergeant and two Patrolmen.
By the very nature of its purpose and responsibilities, this obviously became one of the busiest and most important elements of the Dallas Police Department on the afternoon of 22nd November 1963 and immediately after. It was composed of five separate bureaux and was under the overall command of Deputy Chief of Police M. W. Stevenson.
The members of this bureau naturally looked upon themselves as the elite. They could easily be recognised as they were the ones wearing the white hats. Captain John William ("Will") Fritz was in overall charge of the bureau, with two assistants: Lieutenants James A Bohart and Ted P. Wells. Fritz was to retire in 1970 after 49 years as a law enforcement officer. The rest of the bureau was made up of just 18 Detectives and two temporarily-assigned Patrolmen. Space precludes lengthy accounts of the parts played by each individual Homicide Detective but I feel that mention should be made of the two who appear in the celebrated photographs of the Oswald shooting.
Homicide Detective James R. ("Jim") Leavelle became possibly the most readily recognizable member of the entire Dallas Police Department through the graphic images of live TV followed by worldwide photographic coverage. He is the Detective wearing the light suit and white Resistol hat who was handcuffed to Oswald when Oswald was shot and killed by Jack Ruby. He remains convinced to this day that Oswald was guilty of killing both Kennedy and Tippit and is adamant that convictions would have been secured on both counts. The other Detective escorting Oswald that day was the late L. C. Graves, also a member of the Homicide & Robbery Bureau.
During a visit to DPD Headquarters in June 1995, fellow UK researcher Rick Caster and myself were shown the original 1963 Monthly Time Book and Pay-Roll ledger for Homicide & Robbery. The November section lists every officer from Captain Fritz down, plus two stenographers (Margaret R. Moody and Mary P. Rattan) who had probably been temporarily drafted in from the Forgery Bureau (see below). The exact duty disposition of each individual is clearly shown, together with some revealing sidenotes. I am convinced that this document has never been seen by any other researcher. It is currently kept inside a cupboard within the Crimes Against Persons Division admin office.
This was under the command of Captain Frank Martin, supported by three Lieutenants. Its main strength, however, lay in its complement of 25 Detectives, two Patrolmen temporarily assigned and the only five Policewomen in the DPD. Several members of this bureau were part of the large police presence engaged in the ultimately unsuccessful protection of Oswald in the City Hall basement garage but no member of this bureau appears to have been involved in the tragic events of 22nd November.
This was the largest individual unit within the CID, having a total of 54 members. Captain Walter C. Fannin was in charge and he was assisted by five Lieutenants. There were 42 full-time Detectives and six Patrolmen temporarily attached. Once again, I cannot trace that any member of this bureau was directly involved in the events of 22nd November or its immediate aftermath.
This unit was headed by Captain J. C. Nichols, with three Lieutenants and 24 full-time Detectives. One of them was to gain fame (or should that be notoriety) for the part he played in the happenings on the sixth floor of the TSBD in the hour or so after the shooting.
I refer, of course, to Detective Robert Lee Studebaker. At the time of the Kennedy assassination, this officer was on temporary assignment to the Crime Scene Search Section of the Identification Bureau. One must ask why, after just seven weeks instruction with the Crime Scene Search Section, a trainee like Studebaker was let loose on what could be described as the most important crime-scene in the history of the United States. His task was to assist Lieutenant Day in photographing the scene. When asked by the Warren Commission what photographic experience he had, Studebaker replied: "Just home photography." His expertise with a camera can be demonstrated by reference to Studebaker Exhibit C (21H 645) which is a photograph showing the semi-hidden rifle.. He confirmed that he had taken the photograph by saying: "I know it's mine because my knees are in the picture." (7H 140).
He was also allowed to run around the crime scene with a fingerprint dusting kit and he proceeded to cover everything with fingerprint powder. The actions of poor Mr Studebaker that afternoon, although probably not entirely his own fault, did very little to commend the Dallas Police Department when the muck hit the fan later.
This was the final unit within the Criminal Investigation Division. It was under the control of Captain Orville A. Jones and two Lieutenants of Police. It employed 17 Detectives and 11 female civilians of various Clerk/Stenographer/Typist grades. As far as the assassination is concerned, the best-known members of this bureau were a Stenographer Grade 5 named Mary P. Rattan and a General Clerk Grade 3 called Patsy C. Collins. As well as being Forgery Bureau employees, each was a certified County of Dallas Notary Public and it was in the latter capacity that their names appear on several affidavits made by witnesses, etc. Examples include affidavits of Captain Fritz recorded by Rattan (7H 403/404) and of Ruth Paine recorded by Collins (9H 433).
When I first became aware of this, I was somewhat perturbed and I sought the advice of major researcher J. Gary Shaw, himself a Notary Public in Johnson County, Texas. Gary assured me that there was nothing sinister here and that having Notaries Public employed within the DPD often saved time in having to contact one urgently. This way, there was usually one readily available.
(For the benefit of U.K. readers, a Notary Public is the approximate equivalent of a Commissioner for Oaths in the U.K. and is a person who is legally authorised to record sworn statements in writing under oath.)
No other members of the Forgery Bureau appear to have been involved in the assassination investigation. All enquiries concerned with Oswald's handwriting, etc. on various documents were handled by the FBI.
Four highly-trained Detectives were on Special Assignment to the District Attorney's Office and were considered to be part of the C.I.D. without being attached to any particular bureau or office.
This consisted of three small departments as follows:
This was a tiny bureau, just down the hall from the Homicide offices, and was under the command of the ubiquitous Captain William Roy Westbrook. He controlled one Sergeant, two Detectives, one Patrolman and three female civilian clerical grades. Captain Westbrook described the work of the bureau as background investigations of applicants and the investigation of personnel complaints. I feel that most readers will be familiar with my widely-published paper Just Another Day At The Office (1996) in which Captain Westbrook's activities on 22nd November are described in some detail.
Captain J. M. Solomon held the position of Co-ordinator of the Police Reserve. Strength and exact functions are unknown to me but members of the reserve were drafted in for duty on the day of the presidential visit.
Inspector Edward Preston was in charge here and he appears to have been a very busy man as he had only an Assistant Instructor to assist him. Does that indicate that he conducted all the instructional work himself? He was allocated a female stenographer but his only other staff appear to have been Pistol Range personnel (two).
The 23 members of the current Recruit Class No. 78 are listed by name and a further three are shown as "Recruit Class No. 79 (Awaiting School)". Presumably they waited until one class had finished and there were sufficient recruits available for a new one. The three names are in alphabetical order and the last one is that of our old friend Roscoe Anthony White. That, however, is another story!
Ian Griggs, 1998