14. 1938 - 1940

The policemen and firemen were not protected with an old age security. As the measures had been taken to obtain such protection by having annual dances, the revenues from the dances had grown to a fairly sizeable amount and it was decided to place before the Common Council the request to have the issue of a policemen and firemen’s pension placed on the ballot in November 1938 for popular vote.

The policemen and firemen agreed to start the fund with a capital outlay of $10,000.00, if the matter was approved by the voters. The amendment to the Charter was Section 63A, and the pension plan was Act 345 of the Public Acts of the State. In order to have the amendment pass, a sixty per cent vote for the issue was required. The results were 5, 652 votes for and 3,114 votes against the amendment, which was better than the required percentage, and the issue became law.

Provisions of the plan are that a fireman or policeman may retire after twenty-five years service. The minimum age for retirement is fifty years with at least twenty-five years service. Retirement is not compulsory after that number of years, however, if a fireman or policeman would desire to continue in the service, a medical examination would be required annually to determine his fitness. At the age of sixty-five years, retirement is compulsory.

The issue was fair and presented to the public in a fair manner. Considering that other professions and trades have social security or old age assistance, so also the policemen and firemen will now receive such benefits.

The fund was started by the two organizations as agreed, by depositing with the City Treasurer the amount specified. To maintain this fund the taxpayer is assessed three tenths of a mill per thousand of valuation while the members of both departments contribute three per cent of their salaries. It was also agreed that no one would retire until the start of the third year. Having become effective July 1, 1939, no retirements will go into effect until July 1, 1941, thereby permitting the pension fund to accumulate and be more sound.

Sergeant Clifford West left the Department in February 1939, Edward Iler received the promotion to succeed him and Robert Haarer was appointed as a new patrolman.

Lewis W. Fohey, the Chief of Police, was retired by the [Police] Commission on May 29, 1939 because of ill health. As there was to be no retirement paid from the pension fund until July 1, 1941, the City Council voted to appropriate the money until the pension fund went into effect. Fohey did not enjoy his retirement very long as he died the following year on July 20 [1940].

Norman E. Cook, a sergeant, was named to succeed Chief Fohey while Casper Enkemann was promoted to sergeant to succeed Cook. Eugene J. Gehringer was promoted to the rank of detective-sergeant. The Council approved the addition of four more patrolmen to the force and the four men appointed to go on duty starting July 1, 1939 were Walter Krasny, Luther Buss, Henry Murray and Roland Wurster.

Robert Haarer left the department because of ill health on September 20 [1939] and Robert Mayfield and Alfred Toney were selected to fill the vacancies caused by Haarer’s leaving and Fohey’s retirement. These last six men appointed were selected by a series of elimination examinations. All applicants for a position in the Police Department are required to take the examinations and only those who have satisfactorily passed all examinations are considered. When the last two men were appointed there were twenty-five applicants. All took the first examination, eleven passing it. On the second examination, five passed and from these five two were selected after all had been given personal interviews.

David Saxton was appointed to the Police Commission on October 16, 1939 by Mayor Sadler.

On February 9, 1940, the department suffered the loss of one of its ablest men in the death of Sergeant Edward B. Iler. Sergeant Iler died following a brief illness and operation. His death was a severe shock not only to the department but to the public as well. He was comparatively a young man when appointed to the rank he held, being in his late twenties and the youngest man ever to hold that rank in the department. He was a very intelligent officer and had shown promise of a great future.

Clark J. Earl was appointed to the rank of sergeant to fill the vacancy in the staff. There were thirty-seven members in the department until Sergeant Iler’s death and no recruitment was made to fill the vacancy caused by his death.

Herbert L. Frisinger was reappointed to the Police Commission on June 3, 1940 by Mayor Sadler.

Scanning back over these pages we see that the Police Department has grown from three to thirty-six men in the past fifty years, from a department that had no transportation to one that has seven motor units, from a one-room office with one telephone to a suite of offices each equipped with telephone service and with radio communication to and from its motor units as well as to other police departments in the state.

A total of forty-one men have acted as the chief law enforcement officer of the Village or City of Ann Arbor either as Marshals or Chiefs of Police, thirteen who were elected by the people, thirteen who were elected by the Councilmen, twelve who were appointed by the Mayor with the approval of the Common Council and three who were appointed by the Board of Police Commissioners. Of the forty-one men, twenty-eight have headed the department since it was an organized paid police force.

Many men have been appointed to the department as patrolmen. Some of them left the service because of political changes, some because of request but the greater number left by voluntary resignation. Of the former members of the department, it is interesting to know that many of the present Sheriff’s staff served on the Police Department, Sheriff Jacob Andres having been a sergeant and Under Sheriff John Osborn, Deputies George Randel, Fred Sodt and Clyde Bennett were patrolmen. Matthew J. Max who was a patrolman from 1907 to 1911 is now Chief of the New York Central Railroad Police in Detroit. Irwin Davisson, a patrolman from 1927 to 1930, heads a police organization of a mining company in the Upper Peninsula.

The length of service of those appointed varied from one week to twenty-six years. The late Chief Tom O’Brien had the distinction of being with the department longer than anyone else, having begun on May 20, 1907 and serving until his death on July 1, 1933, a total of twenty-six years, one month and ten days. He also was head of the department longer than any other chief, having been in that office for almost seventeen years.

In concluding this history we present the roster of the Police Department with the length of service of each member as of June 30, 1940: [Text Not Found]

1 1872 City Directory: LeSeur, Erastus, city marshal
2 1872 City Directory: Loveland, John W., policeman
3 1872 City Directory: Seabolt, Jacob
4 1910 City Directory: Prochnow, Theodore F. (Carrie H), restaurant 104 Huron E.
5 1914 City Directory: Kenny, John T, (Julia C), Chief of Police, Office City Hall
61917 City Directory: Keihl, Frank J, police
7 1926 City Directory: Weir, Oscar (Alice) police
8 1929 City Directory: Hahn, Clyde J (Emma H) police
9 1930 City Directory: Gentner, Floyd E (Florence M) police