The Footsteps of Integrity
In the late 1800’s Galena Park was originally called the town of Clinton. The people of Clinton decided they needed an independent post office for their growing town. However, the postal service refused to give them one under the name Clinton, for there already existed a Clinton, Texas in DeWitt County. Thus, in 1935, the name changed to Galena Park when the resident’s voted to incorporate.
During the Clinton era, the police department selected A. B. Free as its first policeman in 1930. Resources were so sparse Free’s power was significantly limited. Nevertheless, the industrious Free made the most of his position and set the tone for a department of diligence and dedication that has persisted to the present.
Without a police vehicle, Free patrolled Clinton streets on foot. Instead of a gun, his most frequently used equipment included a whistle for slowing traffic and a leash for restraining animals. Yet even when his daily excursions saw little more action than rounding up as many as eight to ten dogs and taking them to the pound, Free’s commanding presence and loyalty to Clinton inspired his successors to pursue excellence and to represent the police force with dignity.
Galena Park’s second officer, Wimpy McDougal, who patrolled on a motorcycle, was followed by Russell Graves, then Buck Weaver, the first to ride in a patrol car. Before long, Abe Alford, Marvin Morrison, A. J. Alford and Austin L. “Boss” Langham became successful policemen for Galena Park.
Since then, many fine men and women have joined the department. The police force has grown substantially and is currently under the auspicious leadership of Police Chief Robert C. Pruett. And even with modernized equipment and training to accommodate the current trends in crime prevention, Pruett’s force has never forgotten the echo of A. B. Free’s footsteps, which set the precedent for integrity and high visibility that have become the trademark of Galena Park’s peace officers.
Pictured above: Galena Park officers, circa 1954
Pictured above: Galena Park officers and others, circa 1955
SOURCES Leslie, Roger & Edward, Sue Elkins: Galena Park: The Community that Shaped its own History , Houston, Texas 1993