11. 1927 - 1934

In 1927, the members of the Fire and Police Departments started to give an annual dance to gain revenue to form a Police and Firemen’s Pension fund. In the year 1931 or the start of the Depression, the members of both departments voted to give the money raised at the dance that year to the Common Council to be turned over to the City Poor Department. Chief of Police Thomas O’Brien presented a check to the City Council in the amount of $1,007.43 in behalf of the police and firemen of the city.

Roland Wooster left the department in December 1931 and the vacancy was not filled until June 1 [1933], Edward Iler receiving the appointment. Salaries were reduced in July 1932. A fifteen per cent reduction brought the salary for a patrolman down to $136.00 a month and the following year another fifteen per cent cut reduced the salary to $116.00 a month. George W. Kyer was appointed Police Commissioner again on May 1, 1933.

The hand of death touched a member of the department on July 1, 1933. Leaving the office in apparent good health at six o’clock in the evening, Chief O’Brien went to his home, collapsed and was pronounced dead on admittance to the hospital shortly afterwards. This was a severe shock to the members of the department as Chief O’Brien was greatly respected and beloved by them. As the news of his death became known throughout the country, messages of sorrow and condolence to his widow and family flowed in from all parts of the nation, from police executives in other cities, from former students at the University of Michigan and many others. He was buried on July 4 [1933] in Northfield Cemetery.

And so passed a great character, one who had devoted twenty-eight years to public service. He was a good administrator and had developed the department to a greater degree of efficiency. In his years of service he saw the personnel of the department triple in number and it was he who planned many of the improved working conditions of the men.

A resolution was passed by the Common Council of the City of Ann Arbor on July 6, 1933, in part as follows:

“Whereas, Our Heavenly Father in His infinite wisdom has called from among us our highly honored and greatly beloved Chief of Police Thomas O’Brien, and

Whereas, the City of Ann Arbor and its environs have suffered a great loss in the passing of Chief O’Brien who has been a most faithful, conscientious and efficient officer and highly esteemed citizen, therefore be it

Resolved, that the Common Council of the City of Ann Arbor extend to the bereaved family our sincere and heartfelt sympathy in the passing of husband and father, and we share with them a mutual loss of an exemplary citizen and public official.”

Sergeant Lewis W. Fohey, who had been a sergeant for the past nine years, was appointed by the Police Commission to succeed Chief O’Brien. Other promotions that followed were Clifford West, from detective to sergeant, Eugene Gehringer from patrolman to detective, and Edward Gokenbach received an appointment as patrolman.

In October 1933, the fifteen per cent reduction in salary received in July was restored, bringing the salary for patrolmen back to $136.00 a month. Oscar Weir died April 5, 1934 and Albert Baker replaced him.

The Police Commission requested the Council to provide new quarters for the department in October 1934, the reason being that the rooms now occupied by the department were inadequate for business purposes and housing records. The Council took no action on the request.