Construction of the Ann Arbor Police Pistol Range

Officers of the 1940's placed great importance on pistol marksmanship and wanted a pistol range of their own where they could practice and host pistol shooting tournaments. Since the city had little money to assist in this venture, the officers themselves undertook the task.

[G2:4210 frame=shadow class=right]

With donated land, the department constructed its own police shooting range on Huron River Drive, near Bird Road. The range was started with a $602.38 appropriation from the city council. The cost estimated to build the range was low, as officers themselves constructed the range while off duty, with some assistance from prisoners of the county Jail. Sgt. Enkemann was in charge of the construction of the range and he was the driving force behind it. He took tremendous pride in the construction and completion of the range and was very sad to see the demise of it in the 1970's.

[G2:4213 frame=shadow]

The range was completed in 1941 and was one of the finest in the state. Officers had tremendous pride in the range upon its completion. While the appropriation was small, the officers were able to build two small brick buildings, one for the controls of the range and the other for storage.

[G2:4426 frame=shadow class=right]

The range had 25 mechanical targets at which the officers shot their pistols, Thompson sub-machine guns and sawed off shotguns. For years, while a command officer and later chief, Casper Enkemann was usually the top shot in the department.

The top shot received gifts that local stores donated for the department's awards banquet, which was held at the end of the year. Prior to the completion of the range, and then afterwards, the officer with the best shooting score was also awarded the Clifford Stang Memorial Trophy. The winner's name was engraved on the back of the trophy.

[G2:4219 frame=shadow class=right]

The award honored Officer Clifford Stang, who is the only Ann Arbor Police Officer ever murdered in the line of duty. The award was donated to the department by Prosecutor Albert Rapp, Justices Harry Reading and Jay Payne.

[G2:4414 frame=shadow]

In 1940, Officer Richter won the Stang trophy and Officer John Wagner was presented with a pen and pencil set from Mayer-Schairer, for being the most improved shot. Officers were forced to take this training very seriously. In 1941, an officer was fired for missing two departmental shoots in a row!

I was very interested in locating the Clifford Stang Memorial Trophy and searched for it for two years. I tried to find the last known winner of the award and contacted their family to see if they knew where the trophy was. Lt. Jim Tieman told me that a number of years before I started this book, many of the department's trophies were simply thrown away, due to lack of space. I hoped that the Stang Trophy was not one of these and searched the department for it, with no luck.

I also made contact with the family of Officer Robby Robinson, who was with the department during the 1940's and 1950's. Officer Robinson was known as one of the department's best shots and I thought that it was possible that he was the last holder of the trophy. Officer Robinson had passed away but his grandson, Jeff, hired by the department in 1999, was asked to bring in his grandfather's shooting trophies, to see if he had the Stang Trophy.

When Jeff brought in two boxes filled with trophies, I thought for sure I would find the Stang Trophy. Looking through the boxes, there were many wonderful Ann Arbor Police Department Trophies from the 40's, 50's and 60's, but no Clifford Stang Memorial Trophy.

Unexpectedly, during November of 1999, Sgt. David Strauss came into my office holding the Clifford Stang Memorial Trophy. Sgt. Strauss had found the trophy in a little used storage room in city hall. My hope is to one day display the trophy, a photo of Officer Stang and a synopsis of his murder, in a prominent place in the police department.

[G2:4222 frame=shadow]

The pistol range was not only a way to improve their skills, but the officers used it as an excuse to socialize. When the range was constructed it was on the outskirts of the city but the growth of Ann Arbor eventually forced the closure of it in the early 1970's. The site is now a city park.

I have visited the site of the range and one of the buildings still remains. On this building you can still see the words “Try Squeezing”, which was an instruction for the officers to practice good trigger control. The rest of the range area is overgrown, although there are still some old gun stands near the building.

If you notice on the flagpole in the opening ceremony of the range, there is a small plaque on the flagpole. I was working at my desk on December 16, 1998, when Sgt. Jatczak phoned me as a package had been dropped off at the front desk of the police department for me. The package was this plaque, which states, “Ann Arbor Police Pistol Range- 1941.” The plaque had been found by University of Michigan Professor Allan Feldt. Professor Feldt was helping a friend move, when he found the plaque in her garden. Her home was on Granger street and she has no affiliation with the police department. My theory is that a police officer once owned the home and took the plaque there when the range was torn down.

Chief Enkemann was very proud of the range and I am sure he would be happy to have the plaque hanging at the police station. I cleaned the plaque up and it is in outstanding condition. The following pages are photos of the range, taken at the opening ceremony in 1941 and at various times throughout it's use.