The History of the Massillon Police Department

an old picture of a bunch of police

Historical Benchmarks – National

1828 – First Modern police department in London England
1845 – First Modern Semi-military uniformed structured police department, NYPD
1857 – First department to issue sidearms – Baltimore PD

Massillon Police Benchmarks

1803 – Ohio achieves statehood and first sheriff appointed.
1810 – Stark County Sheriff establishes first jail
1853 – Village of Massillon incorporated. Massillon hires its first Marshal – Adam Holderbaum @ $500.00 per year. Prior to 1853 – Constables worked on a free-lance basis, not getting involved in any dispute unless cash was transacted.
1856 – Police & Fire departments housed together on Charles St. @ present location of Duncan Plaza. Police, like FD lived ate and slept at the station inr 24 hour shifts.
1875 – Massillon organizes a five man police Force, naming Fred Paul, Marshal
1875 – First order to Marshal Paul was to round up all loose animals and hold for owners or auction sales. In July there were 56 cattle, hogs, horses, sheep goats & geese serving time.
1875 – The Police Department lone vehicle was horse drawn paddy wagon, “Black Mariah,” powered by Sam the horse. Black Mariah remained in service through the 1890’s.
1894 – The Police Department moved to its own location. Police officers no longer live at the station, but now work shifts. No longer allowed to sleep on duty.
1903 – Edward M. Ertle made chief marshal
1904 – First city speed limit enacted, 8mph in business district. Chief Ertle writes first speeding ticket in Ohio to Melville Schworm, a Western Union Telegrapher & early auto builder. Ertle was disembarking from a trolley, and Schworm almost hit him. Using a pocket watch he estimated Schworm’s speed at 22mph.
1906 – City Changes title from marshal to police chief making Ertle the first Chief of Police. Firemen are expected to act as auxiliary police in their spare time.
1908 – New City Hall built with new Police Department and jail in basement.
The two cell city jail was purchased and moved to Pond SW for a residence, where it remained in use until the mid 1980’s. When it was in danger of being razed, the Massillon Museum and Spring Hill foundation acted together to moved it to the upper parking lot at Spring Hill, where it is waiting renovation.
1910 – 350 arrests for drunkenness, 15 for profane language & intoxication, 19 for begging & intoxication, 55 arrested for fighting all other arrests total 200. Population of city was 13,879
1916 – June 13: Ptl. Louis Bamberger was hit & killed by a train while breaking up a fight at the Pennsylvania RR Station. Louis’ brother Albert was first firefighter killed in Massillon.
1920 – January 16, Prohibition enacted and Columbia Hts. becomes the local bootlegging center with gambling, violence & prostitution. In 1919, there were 33 saloons in the city.
1920 – Massillon Municipal Court organized, and creates jurisdiction issues. The county Sheriff refused to patrol Columbia Hts. as it was in the Massillon Municipal Court District. The city refused as it was outside the city limits. The City solicitor refused an offer from the Central Steel company to fund a contracted Columbia Hts. Police Dept.
1920 – Sept 16, William Quinn ambushed & shot to death while patrolling on foot at Tremont & Duncan (now 6th S.W.)
1921 – Columbia Heights is annexed to the city, hoping to clean it up. Chief Ertle resigns among accusations of illegal alcohol, gambling & prostitution within the city.
1922 – Edward Ertle returns as Chief in August after the his replacement, Gottlieb Dommer resigned, and the mayor received petitions with over 500 signatures for his reinstatement.
1927 – School Safety Officer position created: Ptl. Royal Smith.
1927 – Police Circus and Exposition held to benefit the Police Relief Fund.
1929 – Junior Police are formally organized. Massillon AAA underwrites the cost of belts, badges, raincoats hats and flags for poles. Massillon Steel castings provided the bases that are still in use today.old_pics
1930 – Model T Fords were used as cruisers
1930 – 1940s & 1950s Police hold balls to raise money to buy uniforms. No uniform allowances.
1931 – May 15. While collecting protection money, Canton racketeer Jim Speros is gunned down in a coffee house on the Heights (4th & Isabella) by bootlegger George Popalinos.
– May 187h Bill Kirkilis, “King of Columbia Heights,” partner of Speros. is gunned down entering his car at 125 Tremont S.W.. It is speculated that these executions are possible reprisals for tipping off federal prohibition agents on to rival bootleggers. Many claim Al Capone came to town for Kirkilis’ funeral.
1933 – November, Prohibition repealed.
1934 – Ptl.Jim Burwell was thrown from an open cockpit plane and killed, the pilotless plane flying on for miles.
1936 – First School patrol trip – Annual Junior Police Jamboree held in Washington D.C. Ptl. Royal Smith and Al Brinham, who managed the Grand Theatre, sponsored an essay contest, taking the winners to DC in their personal cars. Al later managed the Weslin theater where school patrol students received free admission to Saturday afternoon shows by presenting their belt & badge.
1937 – July 11. “Little Steel” strike against Republic Steel. Under extremely heavy pressure from Republic Steel owners and management, thirty or forty Republic employees were sworn in as special policemen. They were given badges and guns and indemnified by Republic. Fifteen to twenty “Police” went to strike headquarters, and confronted striking workers. Both sides claim the other started firing, and amidst machine gun fire from both sides, two steel workers were killed, and seven injured by “Police.”
1940 – $2000.00 in donations are used to install a radio system in city hall basement between the police station & police vehicles. Prior to this, beat officers were notified by flashing the street lights around town to pick up the telephone in call boxes to contact the station. Some call boxes were mounted in tandem with fire call boxes, red for fire and blue for police. The new radio operator also doubled as jailer. Call boxes were in use into the late 1960’s.
1944 – A wooden police shack was installed at the SW corner of Erie & Lincoln Way for use by the downtown beat officer.
1946 – June 12, Ptl. Myron Henderson killed by a deranged gunman, while working the radio at the police station.
1950 – A stainless steel police information booth is presented to the city by the Optimists, replacing the wooden booth @ Erie & Lincoln Way.
1950 – Ohio Drilling fire – five police officers get commendations from FD Chief Ray Earle for performing heroic work.
1951 – New radio system for police & fire departments
1951 – The new concept of a 40 hour work week for police is approved by voters in November. The work week is reduced from 48 hours
1954 – Two Police Radio equipped, 50HP Harley Davidson Motorcycles put in to service, first Harleys in Stark County.
1955 – Lemmie Gibson first African-American officer hired by Massillon P.D.
1956 – Nick Kostic murdered his estranged wife & Dr. Henry Hart
1958 – Bombing @ 538 LWE
1959 – Bomb blast at Meinharts Cigar store, 65 S. Erie.
1959 – July 2 Off-duty Massillon police officers, dubbed the Massillon Raiders raid 8 locations, confiscate thousands of gambling devices, and make 2 arrests.
1959 – Chief Switter resigns under pressure from Mayor Lash as a result of Massillon Raiders unauthorized actions over illicit gambling.
1959 – First Uniform Allowance of $50.00 per year, paid $25.00 per half
1960 – Feb. 1 – Bullets were fired through the MPD radio room window.
patch58_small1960 – Feb. 2 – Wire net was placed over the windows to “Bullet proof” them. The wire would theoretically deflect the bullet.
1960 – March 18 – First formal police training on laws of arrest, evidence.
1960 – September 26 – First 4 meter maids hired.
1961 – January – First shoulder patch used by MPD.
1961 – June 15 – Henderson Lodge #105, Fraternal Order of Police formed, named in honor of Myron Henderson
December 20 – Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary Lodge #40 formed
1962 – Massillon Auto Club furnished a leased safety patrol cruiser to city to patrol school zones. In 1969 the city purchased the cruiser.
1973 – Auxiliary Police created – trained, sworn volunteers donate a minimum of 8 hours per month to assist police & also to work special events.
1973 – FOP Protested the holding of a series of rock concerts, beginning with July 21 with the Edgar Winter Group, James Gang & Frampton’s Camel at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. After much debate among the city fathers, a permit was signed by Mayor Mark Ross. 12,000 people attended the event where the “worst offenders were the amplifiers.” A permit for a second concert was signed for Mott the Hoople, Dr. Hook, New York Dolls & Rainbow. The concert was held, resulting in numerous police calls for drug overdoses, 5 men injured, 1 car theft, 1 grand larceny, 1 attempted grand larceny, 28 calls for trouble. The permit for the remaining concerts was revoked.
1976 – New city hall on Duncan Plaza with police department and jail opens.
1976 – October 23 – “Blue flu” Police & fire stage “sick call” to draw attention to city finances, as they have been without a contract since April 1. Four administrative officers handled police duties, however, the “sick” officers stated they would be “on call” in case any serious emergency occurred. All were back on job voluntarily October 25.
poatch_stadium_small1979 – First Special Operations Squad (SWAT) under Cpt. Richard Bryan
1980 – Pam Whitmyer first woman officer hired at MPD.
1983 – First K-9 team of Ptl.Carl Spicocchi & Wolf.
1985 – July – New circular patch designed by Chief Richard Bryan adopted.
1988 – One of the first DARE programs in Ohio, Ptl. Al Climer graduating from Ohio DARE Instructors’ class #1. Massillon becomes the first DARE program in country to change colors of graduates’ T-shirts, as Massillon children refuse to wear the official DARE colors of Red & Black.
small_patch1988 – Third and current patch adopted, eagle profile & wreath designed by Rosemary & Ptl. Tom Chapman
1989 – No longer a beat officer downtown. Steel patrol booth removed from Erie & Lincoln Way.
1995 & 1996 – Issued DARE Police officer “baseball” style
1999 –  Massillon joins the Regional Emergency Dispatch Center and eliminates the position of dispatcher, transferring to officers to road patrol. Each shift now has at least 5 officers for patrol and 1 supervisor.
2002 – Ptl. Eric Taylor killed in shootout at Cherry & 1st. N.W.
2004 – Due to city finances, positions of DARE Officer & School Patrol Officer are discontinued. Massillon City Schools take over supervision of adult crossing guards and School Patrol junior crossing guards program.
2005 – April 1: Robert Williams sworn in as Chief of Police, becoming the first African American to hold that position.
2008 – The City Jail is converted to a Temporary Holding Facility and no longer books prisoners or holds them overnight.  The afternoon and midnight jailer positions are transferred to road patrol. Each shift has at least 6 officers for patrol and an assigned supervisor.
2014 – Chief Keith Moser standardizes firearms and holsters.  Every officer is issued an Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm handgun and an identical retention holster.
2022 - Chief Keith Moser retires from the Massillon Police Department, and Jason Saintenoy is named Chief of Police.

In memoriam of those Massillon Officers who have made the supreme sacrifice.

lhbamberger1916 – June 13: Louis Bamberger was on foot patrol when the passers by notified him of a large fight at the Pennsylvania RR depot. Upon his arrival, everyone scattered. Bamberger pursued them in between the stopped eastbound engine & tender. He stepped onto the westbound tracks to speak with two subjects standing there. The stopped train was hissing loudly, and the three of them did not hear the approaching westbound Twentieth Century Ltd. One subject saw the train, tried to warn the others as he jumped from the tracks, but the train struck, killing both Bamberger and the second subject. Louis’ brother Albert Bamberger was first firefighter killed in Massillon.

w_quinn1920 – Sept 16, William Quinn was ambushed & shot to death while patrolling on foot at Tremont & Duncan (6th S.W.). Seven years later Claude Osterholt was convicted of the murder, having been paid $250.00 to do so. Quinn had been trying to clean up the Heights, and it is thought this was retribution.


henderson_pic1946 – June 12, Myron Henderson killed while working radio in the basement police station of the 1909 built city hall. Lester M. Martin stated he was an FBI agent & taking over upon orders from J. Edgar Hoover. He ordered Henderson to make a telephone call, and while making the call, Henderson drew his weapon, and ordered Martin to drop his. Instead, Martin fired. Ptl. Joe Slinger had been called to the scene, shot and injured Martin, who died from gunshot wounds months later.

taylor2002 – August 9: Patrolman Taylor was shot and killed following a vehicle and foot pursuit of a suspect that ended in a field near Cherry Road and First Street Northwest. The chase began when a state trooper made a traffic stop at Ohio 21 and Edwards Street near Doylestown. During the stop the suspect displayed a weapon and fled. Upon entering the city of Massillon, the suspect’s vehicle became stuck in a field. Patrolman Taylor and the suspect exchanged gunfire while still in their vehicles. The suspect then fled on foot and continued to exchange gunfire with Patrolman Taylor and other officers as they pursued him. Both Patrolman Taylor and the suspect were fatally wounded.

Special thanks to

Ptl. (Retired) Ken Hendricks
Estate of Edna (George) Mantsch
Mrs. Grace Slicker daughter of Cpt. Frank Woods
Ptl. (Retired) Leo Hohneck