History and Progress of Marceline Police Department

In 1888 when Marceline, Missouri was incorporated, the first marshals were Joseph Turner and I.A. Runyon. Others who served as officers were Mike Burns, Wesley Ellis, George Ellis, Bill Conklin, Sam Parker, R.C. Freeman, Calvin Wilson. At this time the Police Department consisted of only two officers. Chief of Police and a night Police.

The following are a few incidents which happened from 1890 to 1900:

  • At the time of Marceline’s beginning, Linn County had adopted what is known as the “Local Option” law and no licensed saloons were in operation in the County. The Lake Street business district was soon doing a thriving business with “Speakeasies,” as the places were known, where liquors were illegally and surreptitiously sold, and along with them were the gambling dives and dance halls, all more or less open and operated in violation of laws. Many prosecutions resulted, with but few convictions, and a condition of lawlessness prevailed. A number of murders resulted from drunken brawls. Fights were frequent. In 1891 the Citizens of the County returned to the license system and saloons were opened in Marceline.
  • This incident happened in 1894: Dr. Fox was conducting a drug store at the corner of Kansas Avenue and Gracia Street. He had an ice box at the back of his prescription case. One day the dealer was delivering ice to the doctor and noticed the lid was partially off a very long, slender box, setting nearby, and to his terror and amazement he beheld protruding from the box, the feet of a woman. He did not stop to investigate, nor did ho hesitate to talk, and soon the whole town and countryside were discussing with hated breath the gruesome discovery In the Fox Drug Store. Fox was arrested and tried In Charlton County on charges of “body snatching.” The facts developed that the body was that of a young woman who had then but recently died In that county a few miles south of Marceline. The Doctor’s assistant, a man of excellent standing in the community, told the whole story on the witness stand. He told of a midnight buggy ride to the lonely cemetery, the opening of the grave, over which the earth was new, of the return to town with the body between the two in the buggy, and though there was no conviction in the case, it resulted in radical changes of the laws of the State of Missouri. So that now the hazard is too great, the penalty too severe for adventures of that kind and character. The little church yard again received the poor inanimate form so ruthlessly taken from its silent portals and with the passing of Dr. Fox from the community, the most gruesome incident in the history of the town was allowed to pass from the memory of the people.
  • In 1930 the City had several break-ins in the business district. Charles Rusher was hired by the city merchants as a merchant police. These were the days of the depression, Pretty Boy Floyd, Clyde Barrow, Bonnie Parker, Alvin Karpis, and many others. Banks were being robbed all over the State of Missouri and the mid-west. The City of Marceline purchased a .45 caliber Thompson machine gun, two 12 gauge riot guns, and a 10 gauge gas gun for the Police Department. It was believed this equipment would help protect the people and keep bandits out of Marceline. The City has never had a bank robbery.
  • R.C. Freeman was Police Officer in Marceline for 35 years, 25 years as Chief of Police. Charles C. Rusher worked with Freeman 25 years and was Chief of Police for 6 years. Others that served as Police Officers were Walter Broaddus, night policemen; Taylor Cowell and Walter Othic, merchant police; Virgil Ross, night police; Chester Linebaugh and Rolla G. Rusher, and Chief of Police, Clyde Finney. At this time the policemen used their own cars. Soon after Marceline adopted the City Manager form of government in 1953, a new city owned Police Car was purchased for the Police force.
  • In 1960, Marceline‚Äôs Police Department had a number of complaints from car owners having spare tires, hub caps, etc., stolen every night. Also seven break-ins were reported in the business district. The Police Department worked day and night. All of the twenty boys involved were taken into custody. Their ages ranged from 14 years to 18 years. Over $1,000 in merchan¬≠dise and car accessories were recovered and returned to their owners. Juveniles were turned over to the Juvenile Court. The others were taken care of here by the Police Court. One boy was sent to Boonville. Since that time Marceline has had no break-ins in the business district.
  • Marceline Police Chief, Rolla G. Rusher, has served here since 1958 and was a patrolman for seven years prior to becoming head of the five-man department. He has served as a deputy sheriff for 32 years. Rusher, 52, is the son of Charles C. Rusher, who was an officer for 30 years and Chief for 5 years.
  • Chief Rusher has taken special training at Columbia and Rolla, Missouri. Four of his men have attended the school at Rolla, Missouri, also. The department operates one radio-equipped car, has a walkie-talkie, fingerprint equipment, record bureau, and a 10-man auxiliary department. Service training is conducted for the officers once each month.
  • Serving with Chief Rusher are Asst. Chief Howard Freeman, who has been with the department 7 years; Sgt. Dale Hoskins, who has 4 years of experience; Patrolman Omer Lain, who has been on the department two years, and Don Guthrie, extra policeman. Freeman’s father, R.C. Freeman, was Chief 25 years and served as Police Judge for 7 years. Currently serving as Police Judge is O.E. Downing, who has held this post for the past 2 years.