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A Brief History of the Griffith Police Department

This history of the Griffith Police Department is a "work-in-progress", and we apologize if we've missed a person who worked for the department. It is difficult identifying personnel who worked for the PD during the past 100 years. If you have a friend or family member who worked for the Griffith Police, please let us know by sending us an e-mail. And if you have any old photos of Griffith Police officers in their uniforms, working football games, standing next to their squad cars, etc., please let us know by emailing webmaster@griffith.in.gov.

The Griffith Police Department was first formed in 1904, with the appointment of the first Town Marshall, John Harkenrider. Town Marshall Harkenrider was appointed and served until 1908. Griffith had a one man police force until the appointment of a Deputy Marshall in 1945 and a third in 1946. Marshall Harkenrider served four terms between 1904 and 1931.

On January 3, 1956, with the approval of the Town of Griffith voters, the Griffith Police Department was reorganized. A Metropolitan Police Commission was established and three commissioners were appointed --- Jerry Heffernan (elected chairman), Josephine Currier (elected Secretary), and Haskell Hoke were appointed.

The new Police Commission appointed the last Town Marshall, William Kussmaul, as the new Chief of Police. Along with Chief Kussmaul, Texas O. Minter was appointed Sergeant, and Robert Herod and George Phillips were appointed 1st Class Patrolmen.

Tragedy struck the Griffith Police Department on December 20th, 1963 when Lt. Tex Minter was struck and killed by a train. His name has been placed on the Law Enforcement Memorial Wall in Washington D. C.

As mentioned, William Kussmaul was the first Chief of Police. Other Griffith Police Chiefs were John Burns, Robert Herod, James Reyome, and William Weddell. Karl Grimmer was appointed Chief of Police in 1993 and served in that position until his retirement in June, 2006. Griffith Police Lieutenant and Executive Officer Ron Kottka became the new Police Chief effective Monday, June 26, 2006 till November 2012 when Matt Moore became the Interim Police Chief. Matt Moore served as Interim Chief till February 19, 2013 when Greg Mance assumed the Chief postion.

In addition to the above personnel, many others have served. Included are:

George Teeling
Joe Mele
Rick Heinzman
Ken Daugherty
Dennis Maze
Pat DeGard
Bob Segally
Dave Schroeder
Jack Vanek
Dave Hardacker
Edward Rubacha
Val Gonzales
John Verbich
Ron Creviston
Richard Fortner
Ken LaBuda
Dennis Spickard
Kelly Hayes
John Mowery, Sr.
Micky Dingis
Kyle Van Alstine
Roland Deck
Ryan Olsen

Art Davis
Kent Barnett
George Phillips
Tom Schoon
Steve Markovich
Robert Bertuca
Wesley Smith
Greg Stevens
Richard McKinney
Tony Madejczyk
Joe Swetz
Dean Pfeiffer
Tracy Litke
John Messino
Mark Gill
Don McCarter
Nick Rentas
Brian Brandenburg
Mike Moore
Mike Kuhn
Judy Young
Aaron Pollock

With the establishment of the Griffith Police Commission and Police Department, an Auxiliary Police force was also formed. The group assisted the sworn officers on a voluntary basis until disbanding in 1962. The members of the Griffith Police Auxiliary included:

William Johnson
Jack Tubbs
Eugene Wirth
Donald Barrett
Frank DeAngelo
LaVerne Williams
Leonard Volk
Ernest Crum
Craig McFarland
Arthur Morris
Victor Savia
Vincent Lex, Jr.
Howard Marion
Joseph Pachnik
Albert Swatek
Robert Scoville
Lawrence Sands
Dennis Bradley

Our best wishes to these Griffith Police Department retirees:

George Teeling
Joe Mele
Rick Heinzman
Ken Daugherty
Dennis Maze
Pat DeGard
Bob Segally
Dave Schroeder
Jack Vanek
Mike Gulley
Dave Hardacker
H. Arroyo
Kenneth LaBuda

Sherry Bollhorst
Karl Grimmer
John Messinio
Mark Gill
Don McCarter
Elsie Zarndt-Morton
Nick Rentas
Mike Kuhn
Wayne Bailey
Judy Young
Irene Zarndt
Tony Morris

The Police Department has grown over the years and is currently responsible for various businesses and approximately 17,500 residents in a seven square mile area with about 60 miles of streets. The department is currently made up of twnty nine (32) sworn officers. In addition, our civilian employees include four full-time Radio Dispatchers, two Secretaries, an Office Manager/Systems Administrator and an Animal Warden. In the early 1990s, the Police Commission was expanded from three to five members.

Here is the current listing of the Griffith Safety Board and the Griffith Police Department:

Griffith Safety Board:
John Volkmann - Chairman
Gary Sutton - Vice-Chairman
Ro-Ann Purgert, Secretary
Debbie Dillon
Liz Goral

Chief of Police - Greg Mance
Detective Commander - K. Martin
Operations Commander- M. Moore
Operations Lieutenant - C. Burrow

32 Sworn officers (includes Police Chief, 2 Commanders and one Lieutenant):
Patrol Sergeants:
R. Bottiger
T. Dawes
J. Gang
P. Sines 
Patrol Corporals:
J. Gary 
M. Gauler
M. Gerdzos
R. Gutierrez
C. Hermann

Patrol Officers:

M. Able
J. Beck
D. Borgetti
R. Carney
R. Hemphill
K. Hojnicki
J. Jacques
E. Lanting
D. Lazic
R. Merschantz
A. Sekula
A. Tharp

School Resource Officer:
P. Ghrist

D.A.R.E Officer and Social Services Liaison:
M. Starcevich

J. Mowery
J. Schoon
J. Sibley
K. Strbjak

Probationary Officers

Administrative/civilian personnel:
IT Director:
E. Dabrowski

L. Powers
L. Burrow

Animal Control Warden:
S. Litke

Code Enforcement:
M. Kuhn
J. Reyome

Above is a Ford Crown Victoria 'Police Special' with graphics from the mid 1990s. The gold and black markings are Griffith School colors.

Later model patrol cars have slightly modified graphics and colors.

Three Dodge Intrepid front wheel drive 'Police Specials' were acquired in 2002.

Above and below are the "before" and "after" photos of the Chevrolet Impala police vehicles which were acquired in June, 2003.

One of the new units procured in 2013

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