Cape police department turning 150

Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The Cape Girardeau Police Department turns 150 years old this week.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The story was corrected to say that the first event commemorating the anniversary happens Thursday, not Wednesday.

The Cape Girardeau Police Department will turn 150 years old this week, and there will be events recognizing the department's milestone starting Thursday.

Events will kick off with an anniversary celebration Thursday at Bedell Performance Hall. The Cape River Heritage Museum will also have a celebration Saturday.

The River Campus event begins at 6 p.m. with a historical presentation by Dr. Frank Nickell from Southeast Missouri State University.

Before the department was created in 1859, the city employed a part-time marshal. He was paid 75 cents for his weekly patrol.

The event will also include a presentation by the Honor Guard, which pays tribute to the force's five fallen officers. Retired police chiefs Hank Gerecke, Ray Johnson, Howard "Butch" Boyd, Rick Hetzel, Steve Strong and current chief Carl Kinnison will also discuss their experiences.

"One of the greatest things that those guys will be able to tell you is the technology differences," said Roger Fields, assistant police chief.

The majority of the homicides committed by convicted serial killer Timothy Kracjir occurred under Gerecke, who was chief from 1974 to 1981. Fields said the work the detectives did with limited technology allowed the case to be solved decades later with advanced technology.

Paul Echols, a retired lieutenant from the Carbondale Police Department, will also give a presentation on his work with the Kracjir case called "Crossing Paths with a Serial Killer: Cape Girardeau Cold Cases Solved."

On Saturday, Cape River Heritage Museum will honor the department with a "Then and Now" celebration. The structure that houses the museum was built in 1909 for the police station and jail.

The police and fire departments shared the building at Frederick and Independence streets. In 1960 the police moved to the corner of Sprigg and Independence streets.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. volunteers will give tours of the jail in the cellar, which is not normally open to the public. Photos, artifacts, police equipment and memorabilia will also be on display.

abusch@semissourian.com

388-3627

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