by L.T. Hadley
Feb 04, 2012
The most eloquent, carefully worded law that can be written is of no value unless it contains a penalty for breaking it and some enforcement of the penalty. The ancient quote, “Laws are not made for the law-abiding, but for the law breakers,” is as true now as when it was first penned.
County-appointed sheriffs, marshals and constables handled early law enforcement in Moore. Some of these officials lived in or around Moore. Some were honorary positions commissioned by the county but without pay. These were citizens who were concerned with protecting their homes, families and town.
According to some letters and newspaper items, early residents complained that on Saturday nights, “cowboys from across the river” invaded Moore because there were several saloons. Women and children stayed inside and hid. Eventually, the town trustees passed a law making saloons illegal, which restored some order. However, lawlessness was more than a few wild cowboys.
One marshal was famous for breaking up cattle, chicken and tire-theft rings. In the 1920s, he tracked down a tire ring and restored 218 tires to the rightful owners. On another occasion, the commissioned, non-paid marshal tracked a man for seven days and nights, clear to Wanette, and recovered $400 worth of stolen goods. It was said that marshal “always got his man.”
In 1900, Moore got its first constable, Forbes Hoel. No record is found of the next few years, but W.H. Petty was appointed marshal in 1919, then Earl Howard, then E. Wynd and, in 1923, P.R. Simms was the last marshal until the position was reappointed in 1931 with E.R. Garland.
In 1915, the town trustees were forced to reduce the speed limit through Moore to 15 mph, as higher speeds were endangering chickens, cows, pigs and children who might be on the dirt road that would be paved in 1927 and become highway 77.
In the early ’40s the law enforcement officer was called “night watchman,” and Roland Wheeler, Bill Estes, Jess Jack and Lynn Marvel held the position. When the Moore Town Code was recodified in 1950, it provided for a police department.
In 1955, Lynn Marvel became the first full-time law enforcement officer. In 1958, he was made police chief. The second full-time policeman, Jim Ward, was hired in 1961. During the ’40s and ’50s, a volunteer police department was formed with many town residents serving. When Moore became a city in 1963, the population growth required more officers and the volunteer department began phasing out as the number of regular employees increased.
From 1965, there was a succession of police chiefs and the department grew with each budget season. Some chiefs rose through the ranks and some were new to the department, depending upon the philosophy of the council at the time. Some chiefs were Lyle Powell, Hank Schmidt, Mike Kovaciach, Guy Parks, Bill Henslee, Jerre Brown, Don Tiffin, Richard Mills and Bruce Storm.
The department itself has increased to include all the components in every police department: traffic, detective, crime scene investigation, juvenile officer, SWAT team, K-9 and administrative services.
The current chief is Ted Williams, a 30-year veteran of the department. There are 81 department employees, including 72 officers and four motorcycle patrolmen.
It is irritating to get a speeding ticket, but the irritation should not be directed at the officer whose job it is to make city streets safe. Among the things Moore has to be thankful for are the men and women who have dedicated their lives to the enforcement of the laws that are designated to make our lives and property safe, prosperous and more pleasant.