13. Memories of the Ann Arbor Police Department

The following is a collection of memories of the Ann Arbor Police Department. I asked anyone that was willing to write some of their favorite memories of the department. All of them are in their own words.

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Officer George Camp, Ann Arbor Officer from 1931-1942. Officer Camp responded to the scene of Officer Clifford ‘Sid’ Stang's murder. I spoke with Officer Camp in March of 1998 and he passed away a month later. When I interviewed him, at 93 years of age, he was sharp as a tack. Below are his memories.

“To begin with, Sid just came to work. He was having trouble with a tie clasp and his wife was telling him about it. He was walking a beat and it was March. When he went to work at 3:00 P.M. he said I will stop in and get one. And he did.

He walked into Conlin and Wetherbee Clothing Store. When he walked into the clothing store, there were three men in the clothing store, Bert Wetherbee, Bill Conlin and a student by the name of Ayers and this hold-up men. Well there are so many times when you walk into a store in uniform and they say “the place is being pinched” so on and so forth and someone has to pop off.

Sid was in uniform and he started walking right straight back and the guy that shot him, Padgett, came walking right behind him, got behind him and stuck his gun in his back, shot him. Shot him right in the middle of the back. Yeah, well we had to get him to the hospital, he was one nice guy.

Yeah that's how that happened.”

Officer Camp was on the scene of Officer Stang's murder within minutes and I asked him how he was sent there.

“I got a call at home that I was to be in court at 3:00 o'clock as a witness. Ordinarily when you go to court you don't carry all the artillery (meaning his gun). So when I went in the station I went to get the report and when I went in the station, Chief Fohey says, “Someone has been shot over at Conlin and Wetherbee's store. Go on over there.” I said, “I am not armed.” He gave me his gun and I went through the alley over there. I did not know it was a police officer that had been killed until I got over there. Went I got over there Officer Al Heusel was there along with another officer. The ambulance was out front and we were loading Sid up. We lifted him up on the cart and he was shot right here (points to chest). He was still breathing. Of all the nice men. His wife and mine knew each other from Ypsilanti. It was hitting my wife close to home. It was a sad, sad, day. He is buried in a cemetery over in Saline. His widow never married again.”

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I asked how it was discovered that William Padgett was the murderer of Officer Stang.

“Bert Wetherbee and the sergeant. I worked with, Mortenson, I tell you if it had not of been for Mortenson then the other guys would have never found out who killed him. Those guys worked tirelessly on it, going back and forth to Detroit and so on.

Here is how they ran on the story in the first place: They were having a series of coal yard hold-ups in Detroit and also a series of clothing store hold-ups. Always there was a tall guy and a short guy. We got pictures from the FBI and so on, but this Bert Wetherbee did an awful lot to convict this guy. He said, when they were bringing him back, “there's a scar” and points to his forehead. Yeah he put the finger on him for good. The other guy was found two or three months later in Ohio someplace. The tall guy. There were two of them, a tall guy and a short guy.”

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Officer Clayton Collins was one of Ann Arbor's First Black Officers. Officer Collins was with the department from 1950-1955. I spoke with him at his apartment in Ann Arbor.

I asked him about racism that he encountered in the department and in the city:

“I had no trouble with most of the fellas. They were accepting to me and I was of them. Some of them were distant, but I had no troubles to speak of. I did get sent to watch the stop sign at Liberty and Crest. I saw a guy go through it and pulled him over. He told me he did not mind getting a ticket, but did mind getting one from me. He said he was going down to the station to complain, but I never heard from him again.”

On how he was hired:

“I was sitting in John Easley's barbershop when Al Wheeler came in. He was a local black activist, always trying to get blacks jobs that were unable to. He told me I should apply and thats how I got the idea. Ray Cook and I hired on together. We had some classes, which weren't much to tell you the truth. Just some command officer giving you 15 minutes of malarky!”

On why he left:

“There was quite a bit of resentment due to officers attempting to start a police officers association. There was some other stuff going on and I thought I'll never make it 20 more years to retirement so I better get the hell out of here while I'm still young. Chief Enkemann encouraged me to stay, but I told him it was time to move on. Chief Enkemann didn't have his nose in anyone's business and was always very pleasant.”

On Truman Tibbals:

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“Old Truman was a helluva nice guy. Most of the scout cars and beat officers went in there. Everything that he made that day, he practically gave it to you.”

Margaret Suma Splitt, daughter of Officer Herman Suma

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“My father, Herman D. Suma, was an Ann Arbor Police Officer from 1925 until his death in 1941. Since my father died just after my seventh birthday and was sick in bed much of the year before, I really don't remember much about being “a cop's kid.” My mother wrote in her journal of his work hours, 12 hours a day with every 8th day off. She also wrote of having to wash and iron 8 to 12 white shirts per week.

At the time of his death, there were no city death benefits, no social security, no pension plan, we were on our own. I do remember sitting in the squad car in our driveway, listening for the radio to call his car number. He had come home for a coffee break. I was to run into the house and get him if he was called. He never was. I now think it was a trick to get rid of me for a few minutes.

We lived in the last house in the city limits on Miller Ave., where Newport road intersects. City police were not allowed to pursue cars beyond the city limits.

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My father's police revolver was kept on top of the console radio near the front door. I was to never to touch it. I never did.

My mother tried to stop my thumb sucking by putting restraints on my hands. I hated it and screamed constantly. My father came home from the station the day a fellow officer was killed in a Main St. clothing store robbery. 1935 or 1936. He couldn't endure the screaming and removed the restraints. I sucked my thumb until I was 12.

We had only one car, so I was often taken out of bed in the middle of the night to go pick my father up from the night shift. After the Lindbergh kidnapping, my father had me fingerprinted. He feared the possibility of reprisal for his police work.

My father often walked the State Street beat. After visiting my dentist in the Trick building, on State Street, I remember standing on State Street with my mouth wide open showing him my new filling.”

John Enkemann, son of Ann Arbor Chief of Police Casper Enkemann

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“Casper was born December 9, 1905 in Cleveland, Ohio. He was the last of four children born to Mary Kendle Enkemann and Casper Henry Enkemann. Mary died December 12, 1905, from complications of childbirth. Casper's brothers and sisters were left with and raised by the sister of Mary in Ohio. Casper was taken to Ann Arbor to be left with and raised by the sister of his father.

Casper lived his early years in the Weidman homestead which was located on W. Liberty Street and he attended a one room school, which I believe still stands farther out West Liberty across from Killins Gravel. At the time Casper entered the Weidman household there were already six children of Flora's around. It must have been a zoo there at times.

I cannot find any records to indicate the extent of education Casper had, and I don't personally recall him stating that he had finished high school. I do know that he did not attend any college. He did however, possess a lot of common sense that he derived from listening to others. He was an excellent listener. After what schooling he had he worked on a road construction crew for some time and then got involved with Bill Nimke as a finish carpenter. His carpentry skills were excellent as he practically rebuilt the inside of the Enkemann residence at 706 W. Liberty by himself and constructed a vacation cabin, which he planned to use during the golden years, on a lake, near Hillman, Michigan. He thoroughly enjoyed working with wood.

Casper married Gladys Nowak on August 8, 1925, and had 57 years as husband and wife. When Casper passed away, Gladys remained in the residence until it was sold in 1989. During those 57 years they had two children, John (1930) and Eileen (1932). Eileen died in 1952 at the age of 20. Casper died March 11, 1982 and Gladys died June 13, 1991.

Casper had a great sense of humor and liked to be a practical joker as well. He told many stories about the life as a police officer and the one I like best is the one where Ed Iler, a patrolman like Casper was at the time, was planning to build a fence around his house. Ed told everyone he was going to do it tomorrow, on his day off. The evening and night before his day to build the fence, Casper had all the policemen working that night gather all the scrap lumber they could find laying around the city and deposited it on Iler's lawn extension. Was Ed surprised the next day to see this hodgepodge of wood on his lawn.

Another incident, but pulled on Casper was when he learned to ride a motorcycle. Herb Kapp, a great kidder and fine person was already on the force when Casper arrived in July 1930. Since Casper did not know how to start or stop, let alone ride a motorcycle, Herb volunteered to help Casper learn. Herb rode the motorcycle out to a remote place in the country while Casper drove the scout car out. Once there Herb switched vehicles and without as much as a quick lesson, he told Casper to figure it out for himself and departed in a hurry. Casper finally figured it out and made the trip safely back to Ann Arbor. Herb and Casper were very good friends even after that event.

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One of the proudest accomplishments that Casper had was the completion of the Police Pistol Range out Huron River Drive, near Bird Road. This was for him, a personal endeavor and he and a lot of his fellow policemen spent countless hours of their personal time to make the range become a reality. Casper was a believer that all policemen should have a thorough understanding of his service revolver and to that end the range was developed. Casper was also a pretty good shot with the handgun and he and a few of his fellow policemen were often found traveling around to other nearby cities for pistol match competitions. Carl Earl, Harrison Schlupe, George Stauch, Al Toney, all policemen and Clare Brieholz, a civilian, made up the group that did most of the work on the range and went away to the “shoots.” Several times the shoot was in Ann Arbor and this was always a big event as it required a lot of personnel to keep one of these events running smoothly. The shooters from other towns always enjoyed the visit to Ann Arbor for a shoot because the range was always so well maintained.

Casper was on the winning team of policemen who won the then Mayor R. A. Campbell award for highest team score in 1935, 1936 and 1937. His interest in shooting went on for many years both indoors and outdoors. The indoor range was located above the art store now located on the southeast corner of Liberty and Ashley St. This indoor area was also a place for the reloading of the spent bullet cases. He had many other awards given to him for his accuracy with a sidearm. After his retirement in 1960, I think it pained him to see the range fall into disrepair and to sense that the officers were not getting the experience with the handgun that they carried everyday.

Casper was a great husband, father and grandfather and he missed by a few days being a great-grandfather. His hearty laugh, ever-present smile, sense of humor, and ability to make new friends easily were his trademarks. “Cappy” or “Enky” as his friends called him is missed.”

Captain Calvin Hicks

“Officer Dale Heath and myself were riding patrol on midnights and got a call of gun shots at Miller and Spring. Turned out one resident had a dog fenced in a pen in his back yard and this dog constantly barked. The next door neighbor had complained of the barking dog in the past. This night the neighbor got up, took his .22 rifle and shot the neighbor's dog. Heath and I tied a rope around the dog's front and rear legs and tied the rope to the spare tire in the trunk of the scout car, so the dog was hanging outside of the trunk. We did this because the dog was bleeding and didn't want to get blood in the trunk. We then took the dog to the U of M dump on Fuller Road to dispose of it. Once at the dump we removed the dog and dragged it to the garbage pit. The following night when we came to work, we became aware of a report of a suspicious incident/possible murder. The U of M workers had observed drag marks with blood and they called it into the department. Needless to say we quickly solved the suspicious incident with an appropriate supplement.

Many may wonder why the department has always had intensive firearms training. Here's three reasons.

Ray Woodruff was standing in front of a full length mirror in the squad room, practicing quick draw, when his gun discharged, narrowly missing another officer and leaving a hole in the squad room floor.

Officer Steve Hill, working with a surveillance crew, was sitting in the surveillance vehicle when his gun discharged, shooting a hole in the dash. No witnesses so we'll never know the real story.

Lt. Staudemaier, who was a firearms trainer, ended up in St. Joseph's Hospital. I was dispatched to take a gunshot injury report. The embarrassed Lt. said he was cleaning his weapon when it discharged, nicking his finger.”

Officer Vance Burns, officer with the department in the 1940's.

Policemen were leaving the department to take jobs with Ford Motor Company as security guards, mostly because the pay was better and they only worked five days a week. A new officer, after being checked out by Det. Stauch, was taken to Detroit and outfitted with a uniform.

The first three days the new man walked a beat with a seasoned officer; he was issued a city ordinance book and was on his own. His duties during the day shift was to check parking meters and ticket moving violators, if he could catch them. The afternoon shift checked all doors on the main streets and the alleys. The patrolman's beat was as follows; 1. Main Street-Miller to Williams and west to First. 2. Main Street-Catherine to Williams and east to Division. 3. State Street-Thompson to Thayer, plus all alley and business doors.

If you had to go to court on your day off, you did not get extra pay and the shift was eight hours a day, six days a week. The pay in 1946 was $300 a month or $3600 a year. The patrolmen called in every hour from call boxes. The revolver issued was a .38 or a .45 frame and at the end of a 8-hour shift, your hip was talking to you.

Radio dispatch was handled by either the Lt. or Sgt. on duty at the police station. There was a lockup room in the basement to hold our drunks -- then usually sent home after they sobered up. The main jail was located on Ashley Street between Ann and Huron. Prisoners could walk to the jail.

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Drake's Sandwich Shop was a popular place for the two late shifts. You made your own sandwich and coffee and paid .25 or .50 cents depending on what kind of sandwich you made. Coney Island, located on Main between Huron and Ann Street was open 24 hours a day and coffee was free to patrolmen.

There was one female officer and she did not wear an uniform.

Sgt. Harry Jinkerson: Promenade Photo

We were experiencing unrest with student unhappiness near the end of the Vietnam War. Often we had marches on city hall and there was concern of sabotage. Command thought there was a chance some radical would throw a satchel charge up on the promenade and damage city hall or injure the officers inside the police station. I was assigned to guard city hall (along with others at times) by being up on the promenade to watch and warn if it happened. After several cold and boring days I decided to make it more comfortable. I got a folding chair from the department, took it up to the promenade, set it in the sun where I could watch both stairways and sat. What I didn't think of, was it was right across from the editor's office of the Ann Arbor News. I sat in the chair, put my hands in my pockets and leaned against the wall of city hall. The editor saw and called a photographer up to his office, took a photo and published it in the News with the caption “Security Relaxed.” I was in hot water. I wound up working several leave days but I accepted it. What they didn't know was that I also had a fire going. I had a pop can, punched a hole in the side, wired it to a tall board and had a small fire inside the can for heat and never got caught.”

“I was working drunk hunting patrol with my partner Walt Lunsford, when a call went out of a guy who had gone to the MSP Post in Ypsilanti and claimed that he had killed a man in Ann Arbor and left the body in a park by a river and by railroad tracks. MSP said the guy wasn't wrapped too tight but that we might still like to check it out. Because we have several parks that fit, several cars were assigned to check various ones. Jim Stimac and Doug Barbour were assigned to check Geddes Park. I was close. As they approached Geddes they radioed it in and I raced to the golf course on the opposite side of the tracks. Lunsford asked what I was doing? I replied that they were going to find a body and Walt kept saying, “No Harry, don't do it”, but I parked the patrol car out of site, jumped out and got the blanket out of the trunk. I put the blanket right on the drive to the back, laid down and tried to cover my uniform with the blanket. Barbour and Stimac approached. I knew they were good, but I didn't plan on what happened next. I thought they would get out, approach and check the body and I would pop up and yell surprise. Instead they got on the radio, called in their find and said they thought it was a police officer. I had my prep on, heard and jumped up. Barbour stood by his door with the mike in his hand and asked, “Okay, Jinks, what do we do now?” I blubbered, “just say you made a mistake, that it was just a pile of clothing.” Doug called in, said it was not a body and that they had made a mistake and I ran. I later found out that they were going to throw me in the river if I would have stuck around. The bad part was that Sgt. Murray was by the front desk when their call came in. He grabbed some keys and was running down the hall when they called back saying it was a mistake. He ran a signal all the way to Geddes Park and then learned it had been my trick. I guess he had a real good chuckle about it and that was how the story got around.”

Popcorn

“I used to be known to always have two things. One was my coffee, in a steel thermos with a special steel cup that was two layered with air pumped out between the two layers. The other thing was that I often carried around a large plastic bag of popcorn, the bag was about six inches in diameter and two feet long, alot of popcorn. One day I was stationed at the front desk and left my thermos and cup in the coffee room. I went to get my coffee. The cup was gone and in its place was a ransom note with three Polaroid photos. One photo was of my cup propped under a patrol car wheel, the second was of someone holding my cup to the barrel of a nine millimeter and the third was of my cup sitting on the rim of the commode in the security lockup. The note said “a bag of popcorn or else.” What else could I do? I went out, bought a bag of popcorn and left it with the note. I got back my cup. What they did not know was that I bought two bags of popcorn. One I placed with the ransom note. The second bag I took to security lockup, emptied about a third all over the rim of the commode, left the bag next to the commode and took a photo and then threw it all away. The day after the ransom was delivered I left my photo right on the shelf, where I had placed my ransom. There were some mighty green looking guys walking around the station that day.”

Drunk Driver Patrol

“One of the good things that I did was the drunk driver patrol. I volunteered to be on a special program under a grant to find and arrest as many drunks that I could. It was a great job. I liked hunting drunks. I got certified as a breathalyzer operator and got advanced training as an accident investigator. I did not get any calls except drunk driver accidents and fatals. I arrested a lot of OUIL's, one to two a night. The other nice thing was that I still had the option to assist if I wished and often if I was near when an officer got an interesting call, I would volunteer to help. I started out with another volunteer, but after a year he left and Walter Lunsford joined. For a while we had an informal competition but then found out that we arrested more when we worked together, so we started riding as a pair. We even had a wanted poster for us in one of the local bars, with a reward of a free night of drinks to the one that “got us.” Yes we patrolled by the bars alot, but after all, you don't hunt for deer in a suburb but in the forest.”

Police Explorers

“Another thing I did and liked was being the advisor for the Ann Arbor Police Explorers, a group of the Boy Scouts of America that are teenagers, male and female, that would like to explore a career in law enforcement. Ann Arbor has such a post that met about one night a month and had pre-qualified members that could sign up to go on patrol with the advisor. The youngsters were real nice and several have since become police officers.”