The History of the Tonganoxie Police Department as related by John Cass Lenahan.
This brass badge was worn by Fred Del Bondio when he was the City Marshall in the 1940's and 1950's. It was loaned to the Tonganoxie Police Department by long time Leavenworth County Deputy and Under Sheriff, Wayne Turner. It is currently on display at the Police Department Office.
The history of law enforcement in Tonganoxie is incomplete, but nonetheless interesting. In the 1860's Tonganoxie had no designated law official. The early residents depended on the County Sheriff for assistance in incidents they could not settle themselves. The county law being so far away, the need for a local law enforcement official became apparent in the early 1870's. The town had a bad element. The problems caused by these miscreants were only worsened by the 10 or more saloons which were active in Tonganoxie at that time. "The ruffians were taking over..." as the first organized City Council described. A trusted resident, Willard Angel, was appointed Town Marshal. At that time all the city appointed law officers were referred to as Marshal or Night Watchman, until some 100 years later when the title of Chief of Police was adopted.
The first city jail was a wooden building on Main St., approximately where the Midwest Carpet parking lot is now located. During one particularly turbulent time several offenders who were locked up in the jail were broken out by their friends, who then proceeded to burn down the jail. About 1880 a sandstone jail was built on the same location. Later, in the 1920's, a steel cage was installed in the basement of City Hall to hold the offenders.
Many of the Marshals became more creative in seeking transportation. This photograph shows an early Marshal, identified as Bill Stone, riding his milk cow on his rounds.
Citizens who held the office of the town's law include ...
Claude "Cody" Bowman
Clarence "Cats" Love
The Marshal' principle duty was to shake the doors of the businesses to see if they were properly locked and insure that all was well by keeping an eye out for anything out of the ordinary.
The job did not pay very well; $6 a month for the first Marshal hired. Each year the City Council would likely vote a raise in pay for the Marshal and, in some cases, add on additional duties. It wasn't unusual for the Marshal to work street, sewer and water maintenance. It was a common sight to see the Marshal cleaning out gutters with a shovel. Many will remember seeing "Cats" Love flushing down 4th St. in the middle of the night.
The uncertain days of the depression years from 1929 to 1940 created many problems for local law enforcement. High unemployment during those times resulted in marked increases in theft, bootlegging and related problems. This created a whole new set of situations our local policeman had to contend with. Our society was more mobile and so was crime. In the early 1950's the City Council purchased a used car for the city police department. From then to now, we have seen a great change in the methods and equipment to fight crime and keep peace in our community.