February 26, 2009 in Washington Voices

Chief’s badge back in Spokane

Piece of history from 1887 found in Oregon
By The Spokesman-Review
 

A piece of Spokane history has been found in an old, filthy box in a storage room in Salem, Ore.

The badge worn by Joel F. Warren, the first chief of police – back when Spokane was Spokane Falls, Washington Territory – was presented to Chief Anne Kirkpatrick last week. The gold, six-point badge from 1887 will go on display when the Spokane Law Enforcement Museum opens later this year.

“It’s where it belongs now,” said Dennis Griffiths, historian of the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association and the man who found the badge.

Griffiths said that he was taking inventory of some of the boxes the OSSA keeps in storage at its museum. He was looking in some of the boxes that have rarely been opened when he came across one box in particular.

“It was really a dirty, cruddy old box,” Griffiths said.

Inside, he found old restraints, a set of brass knuckles and a lot of smaller boxes. One of the boxes contained the badge, along with three shooting badges earned by Warren.

He called the Spokane Police Department to find out if there was a museum here. The department put him in touch with Susan Walker of the Spokane Law Enforcement Museum Historical office. Walker and Griffiths made plans to bring the badge back to Spokane, but kept it a secret from the museum’s curator, Glen Whiteley.

Whiteley has been storing artifacts for the museum in his house for years while the historical office looked for a permanent home. He was surprised when the badge was unveiled.

“It’s a piece of history that just can’t be duplicated,” he said.

Kirkpatrick officially presented Whiteley with the badge which has been restored to its original condition after Griffiths scrubbed it with toothpaste.

The badge will remain with Whiteley until the museum has a permanent home.

“Y’all, this is incredible,” Kirkpatrick said. She thought back to the time when Warren was the chief and thought it was appropriate that the badge of the first chief was presented to the first female chief.

“Who would ever have thought that there would be a girl chief,” she said about the times in which Warren lived.

Contact staff writer Lisa Leinberger at 459-5449 or by e-mail at lisal@spokesman.com.

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