Trivia from the Past

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In a Traffic Law Enforcement Survey written in December 1949, some interesting facts about the Victoria Police Department were listed. The estimated population of the city was 20,000. The Police Department consisted of "13 ½ men, including 1 ½ radio dispatchers supported by the City." The pay scale was $180 per month for each officer, with the motorcycle officer receiving an extra $5.00/month. The Police Department operated 3 police cars and one motorcycle, including the Chief's car. Police Headquarters consisted of one office, 12' x 13' (156 total square feet).

The office of the Chief of Police was first established by Council in 1950. The 1950 City Ordinance establishing the position was repealed in 1955, with an ordinance setting out the Marshal as the "ex-officio Chief of Police". The office of the Chief of Police was later reinstated.

For many years, the Police Department was housed in a two story building at the location where the new Victoria County courthouse is now located. The building, which was the ex-county jail, held a jail which consisted of one juvenile cell, one female cell (both on the second floor) and a large tank for adult males (on the first floor). The facility was complete with a hanging ring, where a rope was placed through for executions to take place. A sign was located outside showing it to be the Police Department. On the sign were lights: green (which was normally lit) and red (which was lit for 24 hours following a traffic fatality). One parking space for police cars existed.

The Police Department was housed for a short period of time at the location where Victoria’s Incredible Pizza on Navarro is now found. It was a "make-shift" facility that was used while the current facility was being constructed. This "make-shift" location had jail cells constructed from cutting the old cells from the previous building, welding them back together and setting them on the floor. The current building was finished and occupied on September 20, 1966.

  • Police Chief John Guseman and Fire Chief Casey Jones look at a call box at the corner of Main and Constitution Street in the 1970's.(Pictured right) Up until the early 70's "call boxes" were a common sight throughout the city. Victoria Police Chief John Guseman (right) is shown with Fire Chief Casey Jones at Main and Constitution Streets at one of the Police/Fire call boxes. Citizens and officers used the boxes to call in to the dispatchers. (Rumor has it that pigeons and various other fauna were placed in the boxes, against their will, to be found by unsuspecting callers).
  • During the 1960s the City zoo housed lions. The City also had some old horses and donkey's in Grover's Bend (Riverside Park). It was Captain Bill Pratka's duty to shoot a horse or two each week, so the zoo keepers could feed the lions.
  • Rumor has it that our officers once rushed to the duck pond in Riverside Park and made valiant efforts to save a drowning victim, which turned out to be a mannequin (or half of one).
  • Officers within the city have been known to tangle with some odd creatures. During the 1970's there was a kangaroo chase (yes a real live kangaroo, which apparently escaped from a circus at Airline and Laurent). A deer was also shot by an officer (Captain Bill Pratka) inside of a bar (the "123 Club" at 100 W. Juan Linn). The deer apparently went a little crazy and ended up crashing through the plate glass window. Rumor says the game warden threatened to write the officer a ticket for hunting out of season.
  • Image of Sgt Willie Hill(Pictured right) The Victoria Police Department employed Willie Hill, the first black Sergeant in the state. In the 1950s, he signed on as a city Police Officer. Newspaper reports say that in 1962 when he was promoted to Sergeant, he became the highest ranking black officer in the state. Sergeant Hill spent 18 years on the city police force. After his retirement from the VPD, Hill spent some 15 years working as a bailiff for the county courts. He passed away in 1991 at the age of 87. His portrait hangs at the Victoria County Courthouse.
  • During the early 1980s, Victoria Police Department cars were baby blue.  'Twas the craze around the country at that time.
  • Senator Kenneth Armbrister was a Captain with the department in 1982 when he was elected as State Representative.
  • The department's records and files were maintained on a manual system through use of a card file system. It was not until 1982 that the department began using computers for its records.