Snohomish Police Department, Part 4: In the News

Snohomish Police Department, 2009.

The City of Snohomish has been parked at the edge of history for the past several months, and a three hour limit is about to go into effect. It’s expected that the city council will vote to change how we pay our police and that the municipal entity known as the Snohomish Police Department will begin the next chapter in its 123-year history.

So. I have begun the process of putting together a thumbnail history of the department up to this point. Scrolling through pages of old news on the library’s microfilm reader has turned up a historian’s candy store of stories. Allow me to tease you with a few headlines.

September 3, 1970, in the Tribune: “Boyd seeks $250,000.” The story begins: “Snohomish Police Chief Clarence Boyd has filed a complaint with the clerk of the Superior Court […] Three men city council members signed a formal complaint against Boyd following a motion made and passed unanimously at the June 2 council meeting….”

Chief Boyd is pictured on the left in the photograph above, he served 22 years as the Chief. On November 1, 1973, he was given an editorial send-off in the Tribune: “He did his job under difficult circumstances. Almost every year was ‘Retire the Chief Year’ in Snohomish.”

October 4, 1951, in the Tribune: “Police Chief Adams Removed From Post By Mayor Nickerman Following Protest Made On Punch Boards, Traffic Arrests.” Fascinating to imagine, the chief was dismissed in the council meeting and Robert Twitchell was appointed on the spot. (Twitchell went on to serve as County Sheriff.)

Readers who were in attendance at this meeting are encouraged to contact me.

Here’s a possible scene from a period movie, published by the Tribune, December 30, 1910: “Desperado Fights Duel With Marshal.” Marshal Roy Norton, pictured above, found the desperado, a Mike Donnelly, at the shooting gallery in the basement of the California Wine House on First. Donnelly fired a shot at Norton that passed through his uniform just grazing his stomach. Chief Norton got off two shots toward Donnelly, who fired again. None of the bullets hit their mark and the action moved outside, up Avenue A. (To be continued in the thumbnail history.)

Marshal Wm. Brown
Published in 'The Sun' 1891

My favorite story so far is from the second year of our incorporation as the City of Snohomish when our first Marshall just about takes down the young city government. In the August 29, 1891, issue of The Eye, a headline shouts: “A Brown Study.” A sub-head teases: “ Lively Times in the City Council.” And a second sub-head explains: “The Ordinance Says the Money Belongs to the Chief of Police — Attempts to Convict Brown Regardless of Law — Resignation of City Attorney Coleman.”

Wait, there’s more, September 19, 1891: “The Ludicrousness of It!” The middle of the second paragraph reads: “According to the best light now shed upon the scene, the city has two chiefs of police….”

To be continued.

. . .

Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, November 16, 2011.

2 thoughts on “Snohomish Police Department, Part 4: In the News”

  1. The circa 1955 picture posted of the Snohomish Officers is more like 1960 according to Faye Pettibone, Officer Ellis’ daughter. She stated that her father didn’t graduate from the academy intil 1958.
    You should visit the facebook page…You Know You’re from Snohomish When…
    It could be another research tool :o).


  2. Thanks for writing Cristy.
    I don’t know about other historians, but for me to use the “circa” with a date, means a ten year window, five on either side.
    Second, according to the record we have at the Society, Wilbur Ellis joined in 1956, which means he would have attended the academy as a member of the force — on the city’s dime — as they still do today.
    Third, dating the photograph 1960 would conflict with the fact that Delbert Mitchell was dismissed from the force in 1959.
    Finally, I noted on the Facebook page mentioned, an attempt to identify the unknown officer — any and all help is appreciated. I checked with three former members of the department and none could identify him.

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