Thursday, March 6, 2014

Gig Harbor Law Enforcement History

I came across a donation in the Harbor History Museum Resource Room with the following comment:

“Donated in hopes of contributing to, or starting some type of documentation of the Gig Harbor Police Department.”

It appears that this was a paper written by Earl M. Gurney a student in a Law Enforcement Program conducted at Fort Steilacoom Community College, Mr. Thomas Lewis Professor, March 22, 1978.  

Although I am not going to reproduce the entire document, I thought it might be interesting to challenge you readers to add to the history as compiled by Mr. Gurney on Gig Harbor Patrol Person,  covering the following:

!. History
II. The Department and Qualifications
III.  Duties, Equipment and Benefits
IV.  Future Plans
Appendix.  Gig Harbor is a Good Place to Live
Attachment #1:  Job Description for a Patrol Person
Attachment #2: Application for Employment
Attachment #3:  Gig Harbor Police Department Residence Interview Form

I am going to skip reproducing the outline other than to state Mr. Gurney’s (Outline)  Controlling Purpose:  This paper is to present the history, the job and the qualifications needed for the patrol person position with the Gig Harbor Police Department. 

I.  History

The history and organization of the Gig Harbor Police Department has no previous documentation other than with the references in city budgets and city council reports.  The information in this report was received mainly from interviews conducted with some of the current residents, who were the early day founders, and with some of the current public officials of the city of Gig Harbor.

The police department in the city of Gig Harbor had been in existence since the town was incorporated on June 30, 1946. (1)  At that time there was only one appointed patrolman, called town marshall.  His duties were mainly to control the drunks, the traffic and the parking problems.  He was also responsible for security and the handling of other minor civil disorders, however he had no arrest powers according to Harold H. Ryan.  (2)  Such powers were established when the city attorney, Mr. Dean Mullen, introduced a blanket police ordinance that was passed in August 1946.  (3)  The pay for the town marshall was only what the town could afford, which was very little, until the first city budget was established in late 1946.  This budget set the monthly pay for the town marshall at $125.00 plus $15.00 for monthly expenses.  (4)\\According to Mrs. Ryan, the exact population of the city at the time it was first incorporated is unknown.  She related that it was not very large and did not increase to any great degree until the toll was removed from the new Narrows Bridge in the early 1960s.  Prior to this time the city had maintained a one man patrol because there were few new people or transients coming into the area.  Before the bridge was completed the only access to the city was by fairy (sic) or by driving through Olympia and Shelton.  The price of the toll also kept a lot of people out, unless they had business on the peninsula.  Once the area was open to the outside populace, large numbers of vehicles were recovered in the heavily wooded area in and around Gig Harbor.  Most of the vehicles had been previously reported stolen from other areas of the state.  As with many other small communities, the problem of securing property and valuables was not an issue of great concern in the early days, as Mrs. Ryan recalls.  The great influx of people caused the property owners to start locking their doors, their vehicles and providing some type of protection for their valuables and their families.  As the town increased in size, so did the police department to what it is today, a police chief and three patrolmen.  (5)

According to Rudy Moller, the town of Gig Harbor has always been a quiet, mainly residential waterfront populace with no major businesses or manufacturing plants.  It is currently, and has been for years, the central shopping and business area for many of the nearby communities.  (6)  
Gig Harbor's first Police Car 1948 Ford V8 Panel
Left to Right: Mayor Harold Ryan, Councilman Antone Stanich, Judge H. R. Thurston, Marshall C. M. Jones, Councilman Keith Uddenberg & Fred Perkins

Unknown early City Official
Today in 2014 a check on the City of Gig Harbor, Washington reveals a much larger police department that existed in 1946.  Paul White was appointed the Town Marshall according to The Peninsula Gateway, July 26, 1946 and H. R. Thurston was appointed  the Police Judge per The Peninsula Gateway August 16, 1946.  The first complete Police Code is Ordinance No. 6 and was passed by the full city council on November 15, 1946 (The Peninsula Gateway November 22, 1946.  Jack (Jake) Bujacich became one of those early policemen when he returned from World War II where he served in the Merchant Marines.

1 - “Gig Harbor”, The Tacoma Times, February 18, 1948, 45, #51, p. 9.
2 - Harold H. Ryan, D.M.D., first mayor of Gig Harbor, Interview on March 14, 1978.
3 - “Ordinance No. 5, The Peninsula Gateway, August 16, 1946, XXX, #16, p. 1
4 - “The First Budget”, The Peninsula Gateway, October 18, 1946, XXX, #25 p. 4 *
4 - Mrs. Harold Ryan, wife of the first mayor, interview on March 15, 1978.
6 - Rudy Moller, “History of Gig Harbor”, Washington State History, 1950 

* 4 - That was actually the second budget for the entire year 1947; The first budget was Ordinance No. 3 for the period July 12, 1946 to December 31, 1946.

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