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Historical Overview of the Medicine Hat Police Service

In 1882, Medicine Hat, District of Assiniboia, Northwest Territories began to be settled by workers who had begun construction on the wooden trestle bridge that would eventually cross the South Saskatchewan River to be used by the Canadian Pacific Railway.  Over the next few years, businesses and inhabitants grew and in 1884 with the discovery of natural gas, Medicine Hat became an unincorporated town.

This growth began to tax the NWMP who with only five members were busy in the surrounding district and as such on January 13, 1899 Bylaw Number 8 was passed to create a position of Town Constable.  The bylaw was drawn up outlining the duties of a combined Inspector, Health Officer and Policeman.

By 1906, with a population of about 11,000 residents, Medicine Hat became a city and the police force had grown to a strength of 14 members.  As was the case in most Canadian cities at the time, the population growth in Medicine Hat was stagnant over the years of the First World War.  As the city’s growth renewed after the war years, so did the growth of its police force.

After sharing a car with the Fire Department, the Service bought its own vehicle in 1917 that was to be used during emergency cases, but they reserved bicycles to be used for patrolling at night.  During the depression of the 1930’s, members were kept busy dealing with the unemployed who were riding the trains back and forth across the country in search of employment.  Horses and motorcycle patrols were soon added to the transportation mode of the Service as a means of getting around a rapidly growing city. 

With 38 members, in the 1940’s the Service outgrew the existing quarters in the basement of city hall and moved to a new building along 1st St. SE.  When Alberta’s oil boom took hold at the end of the 1970’s, the city grew substantially necessitating an increase in strength for the Service to nearly 70 members.

Since that point, Medicine Hat has continued to grow and thrive, drawing citizens from all parts of Canada and the world to enjoy the comforts and security this city provides.  With over a century of service to this community of over 60,000, the Service has occupied five different buildings, employed 377 members and has been under the direction of 22 chiefs of police.

Medicine Hat has had a proud history as a progressive community. Along with this, the police service has also grown into one of the most progressive and respected organizations within the Province and in western Canada.  With over 15 specialized policing areas, using leading edge technology, sound recruiting and training practices, the Service continues to attract excellent men and women who are dedicated to continuing to make Medicine Hat a safe community to live, work and raise a family.

Medicine Hat Police Service Museum

Hours of operation are 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Mondays to Fridays. Admission is free.

The museum outlines the rich history of the Service from 1899 to the present time with interesting displays of equipment and uniforms used during this period to safeguard the citizens of Medicine Hat.



HISTORICAL POLICE STORIES:

First Murder 

Bylaw Number 8 

Even Cops are Human 

The Great Canadian Cop Shop Robbery 

Shootout on Aberdeen 

Of Mice and Men 

Crime on the Rise 

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1899-1999 Centennial Mural


For a more detailed explanation of the Centennial Mural see below

*Where members are noted, they are noted by their current or retired rank.


Mr. Marshall was given access to the police photo archive and were used by him to develop a concept.  He put together a collage of photos that depicted the evolution of the Service from its inception in 1899.  The committee approved the final draft of the mural and work began on the carving.  The mural was placed within the Police building in front of a wall that was originally composed of glass block, and separated the lobby from the Criminal Investigation reception area. 
Under the direction and support of Chief Bill Spring (1992-1996), the Centennial Celebration Committee was formed in early 1996 to prepare for the 100th anniversary of the Police Service.  Staff Sergeant Jack Lemire was asked by the Chief to chair the committee and oversee the projects that were to occur leading up to and including the centennial year of 1999.  During one of the first meetings, there was discussion on a major project to be undertaken and would be the focal point of the centennial year.  There was discussion about a centennial sword or centennial rifle, however during one of the meetings, the Chief of the Regina Police Service who was meeting with Chief Spring, attended a committee meeting as their Service had recently celebrated their centennial.  This Chief advised that they had wanted to use a sword as a major project for Regina, but ended up on pre-selling only 6 units so the project was scrapped.  He also suggested that with the current firearms laws, a rifle might also be met with extremely low response.  It was a result of this input that the committee decided to undertake the creation of a mural, and that they would approach local artist, James Marshall to create the design.  Mr. Marshall readily agreed and indicated that he would donate the original printing plate and 300 signed and numbered prints as his contribution to the centennial.  With the assistance of IXL and Goodyear who contributed cash and material to the project, the process began. 

Once the mural was complete, a date for the unveiling was set.  The mural was unveiled by the son of Joseph McQueen a former Chief of Police for the Service (1940 to 1945) and Chief Eric Lloyd a long time member of the Service and Chief (1975 to 1984).  At the unveiling, the donors were given a framed copy of the print as an appreciation of their support.  The printing plate used to produce the numbered prints was cut down in size so that it could not be used to make additional copies and currently hangs in the lunchroom in the police building.


First Courthouse and Jail

This building was built in 1899 and was the area’s first courthouse and jail for Medicine Hat, N.W.T.  It later housed the first police station.  It was situated on the site of the current Legion building located at 702 2nd Street SE.


Original photograph (larger view)

Joseph McQueen, 9th Chief of Police

This is a photograph of Joseph McQueen who was the 9th Chief of Police for the Service.  Like most members employed during the war years, Joseph McQueen had ‘broken service’ with the department taking time out to serve his country during the first war.  He started with the Service in 1912 and continued until 1915.  After serving in the Canadian Forces, he returned to the Medicine Hat Police from 1919 to 1946.  He was Chief of the Service from 1940 to 1945.  This photograph is believed to have originated in 1920.  


Sgt Joseph McQueen in 1924:Original photograph (larger view)


Patrolling on horseback 1925

This is Constable Archibald Fisher using a horse to patrol the city.  The Police Service employed Constable Fisher from 1922 to 1928.  This particular photo is believed to have been taken around 1925.



Police Constables in the early days


Original photograph (larger view)

LEFT: Constable James Sheward who served from 1913 to 1915 and again from 1918 to 1940.  MIDDLE: Sgt. Joseph McQueen who started with the Service in 1912 and continued until 1915.  After serving in the Canadian Forces, he returned to the Medicine Hat Police from 1919 to 1946.  He was Chief of the Service from 1940 to 1945. RIGHT: This member has not been identified.  The vehicle in the background was one of the first vehicles used by the police to do their duties. This photo is believed to have been taken around 1935.


Motorcycle Patrol

This is Sergeant Jim Cairney who was one of, if not the first member of the Service to have patrolled Medicine Hat on foot, horseback, motorcycle and then automobile.  This photograph was taken in 1942.  Sergeant Cairney had a 40 year career with the Service from 1928 to 1968.  


Original photograph (larger view)


Police station 1951 - 1965

This building served as the City’s police station from 1951 to 1965, after facilities in City Hall became outdated.  The Provincial Court also occupied the 2nd floor of the building. The Canadian Coat of Arms that was displayed in the courtroom is now hanging in the lobby of the current police building after being discovered at a Stampede Grounds building when they were doing some cleaning.  Retired Chief Eric Lloyd positively identified the artifact as being from this building.  The Crown on the top of the artifact was broken off and had to be welded back in place.  During the welding process, the heat used in the welding, burnt the paint off of the areas adjacent to the weld and as such was repainted before being hung in its current location.  This building was situated along 1st Street SE where the current “Y” school is located.  


Original photograph (larger view)


Early Forensic Photographic Equipment

This photograph is a depiction of some of the early forensic photographic equipment that was used by our identification members.  It was used to photograph fingerprints lifted from a crime scene.  The member in the photograph is Sergeant Bob Pocsik who served between 1974 and 1999.  



Record-Keeping in Policing

This photograph is of Inspector Keith Bennett.  It is unknown exactly when the photo was taken.  Inspector Bennett served between 1952 and 1983.  



K-9 Unit formed in 1980

This photograph is of Inspector Rob Siegmund and Police Service Dog Smokey.  Inspector Siegmund and Staff Sergeant Lou O’Reilly (and PSD Bandit) were the Service’s first K-9 members. The K9 unit was formed in 1980.  


Original photograph (larger view)


Police and children

This photograph is also of Inspector Keith Bennett and the child in the photograph is Paul Douglas.  Paul is the son of Inspector Ron Douglas.  It is unknown when this photograph was taken.  



Traffic Unit and Photo Radar

This photograph is of Sergeant Bill McKenzie who served between 1932 and 1969.  Sergeant McKenzie was in charge of the traffic unit of the Service for a lengthy period of time and can be seen in this photo using radar.  



First Female Constable 1986

This photo was taken for a crime prevention promotion.  It features the Police Service’s first female officer, Constable Brenda Fisk.  Constable Fisk served actively with the Service from 1986 to 1994 when she went on disability as the result of an injury received while working.  She remains employed by the Service and is currently in charge of maintaining the Police Service website.  The children in the picture are Michael, Lianne and Lisa Jacobs.  They were the neighbours of Sergeant Ron White who took the photograph during his tour as constable in the Identification section.  


Original photograph (larger view)


Transition from early days to current policing

This was a ‘staged’ photo for the mural purpose and was designed to show the transition from the early days to the current manner of policing the city.  The participants are Constable Larry Dirk and Staff Sergeant Andy McGrogan.  Cst. Dirk served between 1980 and 2006 and Andy McGrogan has since been promoted thru the ranks and is the current Chief of Police.  


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Medicine Hat Police Service Colours

 


Click for larger view

The Medicine Hat Police Service is one of the few municipal forces in Canada to have its own colours.  The colours is a flag of a special design featuring the Service’s badge which was formally consecrated on January 13, 1999 during the Service’s Centennial ceremony.   

When not in use during special ceremonies like parades, funerals or at the annual police ball the colours are stored in a special case at the police station. 

Colours have a military origin as they were used when troops went into battle and needed a reference point to gather if they became disorientated or otherwise lost. 

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Chiefs of Police

Medicine Hat Police Service Chiefs of Police

Chief Andy McGrogan
2008 -
Chief Gordon Earl
2007 – 2008
Chief Normand Boucher
2001 - 2007
Chief Donald Kyllo
1996 - 2001

Chief William Spring
1992 - 1996
Chief Ray Palardy
1986 – 1992
Chief Norm McLeod
1984 – 1986
Chief Eric Lloyd
1975 -1984

Chief John Judge
1974 – 1975
Chief Sam Drader
1967 – 1974
Chief Arthur Bull 
1946 – 1967
A/Chief Harold Watts
1945 – 1946

A/Chief George McIntosh
1945
A/Chief Joseph McQueen
1940 – 1945
Chief James M. Taylor
1919 – 1940
A/Chief Jonas Laight
1919

A/Chief Walter Grover 
1917 – 1918
Chief Archie Johnston
1916 – 1917
Chief James Bruce
1912 – 1916,
1918 – 1919
Chief John Meiklejohn
1906 – 1912

Chief George Marwick
1889 – 1906

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Ten Year Service Medal

The Medicine Hat Police Service 10 Year Service Medal came into existence on May 22, 2008, by order of the Medicine Hat Police Commission.  The medal recognizes police officers and peace officers of the Service who have provided ten years full time service in a manner characterized by good conduct, industry and efficiency.

For the purposes of this award, full time service does not include any period of leave to serve with the Armed Forces or another agency, or organization unless the period was a developmental secondment approved by the Office of the Chief. In addition, it does not include any period of time that a police officer or peace officer was on a leave of absence for any reason.

If the periods of service are not continuous, each period of service is calculated to the nearest month, and the total service must meet or exceed 120 months. This medal may be awarded posthumously. The Office of the Chief may present the medal to a member at a Service Parade or other appropriate function as determined by the Office of the Chief.

 The Medicine Hat Police Service 10 Year medal is described as:

  • A circular medal,
  • On the front of the medal is the Police Service Badge, granted to the Service by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and circumscribed with the Service motto;
    “SERVING AND PROTECTING OUR COMMUNITY WITH PRIDE”
  • On the back of the medal is the City of Medicine Hat’s Coat of Arms
  • The medal is suspended from a ribbon of five equal stripes, two red and three blue

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Medicine Hat Police Service Coin

Service coins have a long standing tradition in the military and more recently in police organizations.  Since its creation in 1899, the Medicine Hat Police Service has had a long standing tradition of exemplary service by its members to this community.  The recognition of service excellence is a very important part of our commitment to this community.  The Coin bears both heraldic crests of the City and the Police Service which were granted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999 in commemoration of our 100 years of service to the citizens of Medicine Hat.


The Service Coin, created in 2009, is a small medallion measuring 3.7 cm in diameter and is stamped on one side by the Service heraldic badge encircled by our core values on a blue background.  On the obverse side is the City of Medicine Hat heraldic crest encircled by the “Medicine Hat Police Service” and our Service motto on a red background.

This Service Coin is intended to carry on the tradition as a means of recognition and appreciation to the recipient. The Coin is presented by the Office of the Chief to members, staff and deserving persons in recognition of contributions to the Service and Community.

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Medicine Hat Police Service Time Capsule

 

Click for larger view

A time capsule was created as part of the year long celebration of the Service’s centennial.  The capsule which has numerous items of the day placed inside, was sealed on January 13, 1999 and is to be opened at the bicentennial on January 13, 2099. 

The time capsule is a permanent fixture, located by the front reception counter in the lobby of the Service building, available for all staff and visitors to see.

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Medicine Hat's First Murder

The first murder at Medicine Hat was reported on July 9, 1885. After a drunken argument about a horse race, Robert Casey was shot by Ben Hale at about 9:00 p.m. at the Cully residence, a site near the present airport. Commissioner Irvine reported the murderer had fled in the direction of the boundary line with saddle and pack horse. Being dark, it was impossible to follow him. The wounded man was carried to Medicine Hat where he died on the morning of the 10th. The United States posts along the boundary line were notified by telegraph of the route taken by the murderer.

Sgt. Jones was dispatched to Benton, Montana, to get the murderer arrested by United States officials. Sheriff Healy knew where to find Hale but, being a practical man, would not interfere unless a reward was offered. Hale was therefore never apprehended.

According to the version of the Cullys, corroborated by Ben Hold and told to Rev. J.W Morrow, a couple of cowboys, Hale and McCauley by name, stopped in for a meal after delivering cattle to a rancher at Finn Lake. Casey, a proprietor of one of the early hotels in Medicine Hat, was present and he and Hale became involved in a drunken argument over a horse race they had a short time prior. Hale drew his gun and covered Casey, ordering him to put his hands up. Casey replied, “If you are going to shoot, wait until I get outside”. When outside, Casey said, “shoot me on my horse”. Hale told him to mount up. Casey mounted with his back to the horse’s head and in a spirit of bravado, he bared his chest and looking Hale in the eye, told him to do his worst and shoot. The words scarcely died on his lips when a spurt of flame leaped from the barrel of the six-shooter and Casey tumbled over.

Hale then went into the house with a gun in each hand. He started giving an exhibition of fancy shooting, knocking the lid off a kettle and finally hitting the pivot in the centre of the clock on which the hands went around. Saddling the best horse of two buckskins, he struck out south, ordering Cully to watch until he was out of sight before he went and reported to the Mounted Police.

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Bylaw #8

In 1885, with the outbreak of the Riel Rebellion, there was great concern and anxiety in Medicine Hat that the Blackfoot, Assiniboia, Prairie Cree and Sioux would join Reil and attack the town. 

Medicine Hat, NWT 1884

A committee was formed to plan a defence which resulted in arguments and confrontations with the police as to the best line of defence against an attack. An engine was kept fired up day and night, ready to evacuate the women and children. Anxiety was relieved by the arrival of a company of Rocky Mountain Rangers, largely made up of cowboys and ranchers and later joined by a Regiment from the Maritime Provinces. A line of defence was constructed on the side of the hill by digging rifle pits and trenches. (The trenches remained visible until 1912 before being obliterated by the growth of the city.) The confederated Indian tribes hoped to get the powerful war-like Blackfoot tribes to join them and wipe out the whites from their territory. However, Chief Crowfoot, in his wisdom, realized the futility of doing battle against the whites and chose to remain loyal to the King. One can only surmise that if he had not, a disastrous battle would have ensued which would have been the bloodiest Indian battle in the history of North America.

The uprising ended suddenly and the Indians slowly returned to the reserves. For a while peace and quiet reigned – or as much peace and quiet as could be expected in a frontier town.

In 1899, however, citizens who were having a hard enough time receiving protection from drunken and rowdy men on the streets, were faced with another problem as the town was flooded by hobos and vagrants, nearly all of whom existed by robbing and pillaging. The NWMP, with only five members in the detachment, were unable to devote any time to keeping law and order in town. Therefore, the city fathers decided to create a position of Town Constable. A bylaw was drawn up outlining the duties of a combined Inspector-Heath-Officer-Policeman and read as follows:

Courthouse and Jail, Medicine Hat, NWT 1899

BYLAW # 8

It shall be the duty of the Council of the Town of Medicine Hat to appoint one or more persons to the office of Inspector, Health Officer and Policeman.

“It shall be the duty of the said town and to perform such services as may be required by the chairman of the various committees in looking after and keeping in repair, all Town property and in looking after the cleaning up of all streets and to engage and keep the time of such labour as the said Council may direct.

To have charge of the Council Chamber, to keep the same clean and in an orderly condition and to attend the fire and lighting of the same when in occupation for Town purposes and to attend the meetings of the Council.

The said officer shall be allowed his reasonable disbursements for fuel, coal, oil and for cleaning the said Council Chambers.

The said officer shall have the right to enter into and upon any premises or places within the said town for the purpose of effectively performing the duties of his office and enforcing the bylaws.

The said officer shall have supervision over all persons to whom licenses are granted and make a thorough inspection of the premises sought by the licensed and shall make all enquiries relating to matters connected with the granting of licenses as may be required.

To assist at least once in every month and oftener, if necessary, all premises licensed by the town for the purpose of ascertaining whether the person licensed comply with the provisions of the bylaws governing licenser.

To carefully examine, when necessary, all chimneys, fireplaces, hearths, ovens, furnaces, boilers, stoves, steampipes, funnels, stovepipe holes, flues and all places where fires are made or kept on which ashes are kept and to enforce any bylaw which now or may hereafter become law, for the prevention of fires on the erection of buildings.

The said officer shall generally be under the direction and control of the Mayor or Chairman of the said Council for the time being.

The said officer shall be diligent and watchful to discover all nuisance matters and things likely to injure the health and be prompt in applying a remedy under the law.

To see to the arrest of all disorderly persons and generally to the maintenance of law and order in the Town.

Any person appointed to the above position shall hold office during the pleasure of the Council.

The salary of the said officer shall be the sum of fifty dollars a month and two suits of uniforms annually.

Dated and passed in council this 13th day of January, 1899.

W.B. MARSHALL, MAYOR”

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