The history of the Police Department in Tiffin dates back to 1832 when Harry Brish became Tiffin’s first Marshal but the records are unclear on if he was elected, appointed, what his duties were, the scope of his authority, or his working relationship with the elected Sheriff. During its formative years, Tiffin as other towns struggled to maintain law and order. Although Marshal Brish may have functioned as Marshal, and there was an elected Sheriff, most of the area Law Enforcement was controlled by vigilante-type groups. The Clinton Protective Society was organized in 1846 and the ranks of its membership swelled until 1886, when three hundred and forty-four were part of the band.
Responsible and influential citizens of Tiffin were aware that an orderly transition from vigilante law to government law was required for the establishment of a stable law enforcement agency necessary for the growth of a prosperous and progressive community. In 1851 S.H. Kissinger was the first recorded Marshal elected in Tiffin (which is comparable to today’s Chief of Police) and the first Police Department was formed. Among its first Patrolmen were:
- Charles Brish
- George Miller
- Amos Nicholas
- Isaac Robb
- I.J.C. Shoemaker
Tiffin suffered typical post Civil War economical problems. Thus a Police Department did not exist from April to November during the year 1872. When the monetary problems were solved and re-organization took place, the following three men were listed as its Patrolmen:
- Charles Brish
- James Hennessay
- Isaac Robb
Our earliest known photograph of the Tiffin Police Department Patrolmen (shown above) is from 1882 and showed the following Patrolmen:
- Charles Brish
- Marshal James George
- Jerome Lamberston
- Pat Sweeney
The first recorded officer duty related death dates back to October 25th, 1895. On this date a man reported to Marshal Shultz that a man was acting strange with a pistol on a farm North of Tiffin. Marshal Shultz and Patrolman Sweeney went to that location in a horse drawn buggy. As reported, Lee Martin was found in a field with a gun in his hand. Marshal Shultz approached in an attempt to talk to Martin and a scuffle ensued and shots broke out. Shultz fell to the ground mortally wounded. Patrolman Sweeney subdued Martin and placed the dying Marshal into the buggy and raced back to Tiffin. Marshal Shultz succumbed to his injuries and Martin was brought to trial on June 3rd, 1896 and Judge Schuffleburger ordered his execution by hanging for the murder.
At the turn of the century there can be noted little change within the procedures and activity of law enforcement in Tiffin. However, there was one major exception in 1903, the first City Civil Service Board was established. The first Chief of Police, Claude Myers was chosen along with eleven other Patrolmen.
On March 29th, 1908 another in the line of duty death was recorded. Patrolman Pat Sweeney, while making his appointed rounds, happened to come across a burglary in progress. Two ladies observed Patrolman Sweeney climb the stairs of the Breckley Grocery Store at N. Washington St. and Harrison St. Shortly thereafter shots were heard coming from the store. A man was observed fleeing the store and also fired on the two ladies but missed. Patrolman Sweeney was found, felled by bullets, and was carried into Brick’s Saloon. A doctor was summoned and he advised that Patrolman Sweeney be transferred to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Toledo. Patrolman Sweeney was then taken by train to Toledo and surgery was performed in an attempt to save his life, but he died the next day. But before his death he gave the prosecuting attorney a statement accusing “Butch” Huffman, a felon who had recently been released from prison in Columbus, and a man that Patrolman Sweeney had sent there as the one that had shot him. Pictures of Huffman were circulated, but the man that had snuffed out the life of a veteran Policeman of thirty-four years on the Tiffin Police Department, was never found.
By 1915, the Tiffin Police Department had a vehicle which was driven by Motorcop, Heilman. The department had a total man power of twelve patrolmen, which were paid an average of $1,000 per year. Locally and nationally there was restlessness (war being imminent between the U.S.A. and Germany) and economic strain was noted. In 1916 tempers were flaring and at times the influence of the prohibition advocates were being felt. November 17th, 1916, Chief Myers was arrested and charged with being drunk by Patrolman Brayman. Chief Myers countered by saying that he was going hunting. Motorcop Heilman was appointed Acting Chief of Police. December 6th, 1916, Chief Myers was suspended officially by the Civil Service Commission. He fought the case, but left the department March 1917.
By the beginning of the Roaring Twenties, new faces had been added to the Tiffin Police Department and some other faces were no longer seen. Chief Heilman had retired and Chief Bordner was his replacement. Many officers remained with the force a short time. The average tenure was approximately three years. This was due for the most part because of a salary lower than the rest of the community and hours of twelve hours on duty and twelve hours off duty, six days a week.
November 11th, 1924, the City of Tiffin purchased their first technological leap for the Tiffin Police Department. Call Boxes were purchased to aid the Patrolmen on their beat, enabling them to better communicate with the Police Station. The latter days or 1924 saw criminalistics used in Tiffin for the first time to solve a robbery. Bloody fingerprints were found at the scene of a robbery at Balls & Hooks. Subsequently, the detection and arrest of one of the robbers came about because of the fingerprints.
In September 1929, Chief Mutchler ordered a firming up of the Police Departments Rules & Regulations and activities. He ordered his Patrolmen to crack down on all types of violations.
John Dillinger and his gang robbed a bank in Fostoria in 1933 and headed for Tiffin on Route 18. Chief Fraley and Patrolman Kenneth Griffis set up a road block on Route #18 and awaited the gang’s arrival but they never showed up.
Also in 1933 the Ohio State Patrol completed its first training school at Camp Perry. Col. Black led this first group on a parade through Tiffin.
In 1938 construction on a new Municipal Building was started for the city and it was decided that the Police Department would also be housed in it. In March of 1940 the Police Department moved into it’s new location. In addition to new quarters the Police Department now had a talking radio on the A.M. band and the call letters were WTOP. This system later was upgraded to F.M. in 1943 with the call letters of KQB 396.
Chief Mutchler resigned in 1942 after 34 years of law enforcement service and Harold J. Fraley was selected as the new Chief of Police. Chief Fraley began by initiating new policies and procedures. During these war years new procedures had to be implemented. On April 16th, 1946 started a written complaint report system that was in effect for nearly 5 decades.
In the early 1950’s Chief Fraley started the Tiffin Police Department’s own police school. New Patrolmen received sixteen weeks of intensive training. This was a major accomplishment and Tiffin was the first department of it’s size in the State of Ohio to operate it’s own school.
By the mid 1950’s war was again on the minds of Americans. Crime rates soared rapidly. Tiffin Patrolmen still worked 44 hours a week and received special training in fingerprinting, criminal investigating, disaster service, and the use of the drunkometer as alcohol abuse was on the rise. Also during this time the younger generation began to rebel against authority. Since Law Enforcement represented authority, many cases at this time was directly related to this rebellion.
In 1957 the rank of Sergeant was added to the Tiffin Police Department and the first three Patrolmen that were selected were: Englehart, Griffis, and Fisher. During this same year the 44 hour a week workload was lowered to the now standard 40 hours a week. By 1958 the department had grown to 25 men, 3 cruisers, and 2 motorcycles.
June 1969 brought about the creation of the Criminal Division by Chief Fraley who was able to foresee the future and the need for a separate investigative unit. Not long after in 1971 a grant was approved for the establishment of another special division. The Youth Services Division came into being at no extra cost to the local taxpayers.
In the fall of 1972, Sergeant R.F. Wilson was appointed to the duties of photography and identification. A federal Grant was obtained and a laboratory was built with the latest equipment. Over 10,000 pictures were taken in the first year.
By 1973 the Police Department’s building was almost 40 years old and concern about the physical structure caused a major renovation to take place. Lt. Dale Griffis was assigned to this task. By 1974 major construction had started and Patrolmen had to work around the debris. The 1939 appearance of the building was gradually fading away and work was completed in 1974.
The City of Tiffin has tried to keep pace with the times and the citizens of Tiffin are now protected by state of the art technologies. New Police Cruisers, computers, better trained and qualified personnel, a K-9 unit, bicycle patrol, D.A.R.E. Officers, as well as a team of tactical police and negotiators who are trained and equipped to handle most any given situation.
Today’s uniform is a bit more relaxed, the lapel coats are gone, the pants and shirts are a dark navy blue color. A tie is still worn during the cold weather months or with a long-sleeve shirt, although a navy blue dickey with the initials “TPD” is optional. The hat is now optional wear while on duty although it is still required for parades and special functions.
In the past one hundred and fifty years the Tiffin Police Department has come from virtual non-existence to the status of being one of the best equipped and efficient organizations ready to meet the challenging needs of policing. In December 1999 the department underwent a remodeling process that lasted until June of 2000.
Today the Chief of Police is assisted by 3 Lieutenants, 5 Sergeants, 22 Officers, Civilian Clerks, Civilian Dispatchers, and a Police Reserve. The equipment consists of patrol cars, detective cars, a K9 car, Police Bike’s, Mobile Data in-car computers, Computer Aided Dispatch, E-911, in car State LEADS checks, video surveillance and other new technologies. These are all employed to protect the citizens of Tiffin.
We hope you have enjoyed this brief history of the Tiffin Police Department and we encourage you to find out more about not only the Tiffin Police Department’s history but the City of Tiffin’s history also at the Tiffin Seneca County Library.