The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida on November 17, 1968 · 31
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The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida · 31

Miami, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 17, 1968
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Sun Nov 17 1968 THE MIAMI HERALD 31-A Headley Dies at 63 to be conducted by Circuit Court Judge J Fitz Gordon is set for 3 pm Tuesday in the Bayfront Park Auditorium From 1 to 9 pm today and Monday his body will lie in state at the Ben Lanier Funeral Home at 5350 West Flagler SL Burial will be in Woodlawn Cemetery EVER SINCE he returned from North Carolina in August his health had not been good' In Gainesville visiting a son he fell over a “damn stepping stone arrangement” he said recently “And boy did I hit the ground” Ever since pleurisy had bothered him PRAISED denounced cursed and lauded Headley found himself the focus of more national attention in the last year of his life than the 62 before As the tough cop he set out last Christmas to start “an epidemic of law and order After a seemingly senseless outbreak of armed robbery killings Headley established a “get tough” policy vowing Miami would never have riots like those in Watts and Detroit “There is only orie way to handle looters and arsonists during a riot” he said “and that is to shoot them on sight I’ve let the word filter down — when the looting starts the shooting starts!” AND THE PHRASE rico-chetted across the nation He armed his men with shotguns and dogs and decided to “to get tough” against crime in the so-called Negro ghetto Five months later he was claiming armed robbery had dropped 62 per cent J Edgar Hoover director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was among his advocates: “Headley’s policy is proof of the fact that a strict policy in the enforcement of law works whereas some of the theoretical sociological policies that are advanced and urged just don’t work” WHEN RIOTS erupted in August during the Republican Convention a restrained Miami Police Department didn’t exactly follow the edict A single looter one of hundreds was wounded Police killed three men — only after they were fired upon they said After a flap over police brutality city and state officials as well as grand jury generally agreed the police handled the situation admirably Headley was on vacation at the time Headley perhaps most of all could be categorized as a very shrewd infighter No one beat him With his “looting-shooting” doctrine he struck a powerful chord He knew it Besides 12000 letters he received bundles of telegrams a dozen roses a potted poinsettia and a dollar from a man in Ohio with instructions “to buy some slugs with this” “THERE HAS BEEN a policy of appeasement all over the country” Headley said “The job of the police is to protect life and property preserve the peace — and enforce the law “You can’t bond a felon out of the morgue” he would fondly repeat Predictably c i v i l-rights groups were aghast at the chief’s language if not his intentions Some civil libertarians accused him of racial demagoguery Not surprisingly though certain elements of the Negro population supported him “Some criticize Headley for using shotguns and dogs” one Negro minister told the National Observer “but with a lot of my people it would be okay to use tanks and lions” “Negroes make up 15 per cent of Miami’s population” Headley would say “They commit 85 per cent of the crime- That is their fault not mine" he would argue with a matter-of-fact simplicity that infuriated some Negroes “But since that’s where the crime is that is where the enforcement has to be” he said AFTER THE CRACKDOWN came some of the natural uneasiness in the Negro community turned to rage when two white officers stripped a 17-year-old boy to his undershorts and dangled him by his heels from an expressway overpass ' Headley suspended the two men and turned the case over to the FBI A federal court judge convicted them and a few weeks ago Head-ley said that was fine with him At 63 the six-foot-three chief was a large man with his bulk settling around his middle “I’m on a diet all the 1- V Headley the Horseman Was a US here he shows time” he has said for years “All I have to do to gain weight is push a cart down the aisle of a supermarket” He parted his graying hair down the middle in the style of the 1930s stuck a diamond Masonic pin in the lapel of his dark suit and spoke in a rumbling voice from underneath an Oliver Hardy moustache By appearance alone he might have qualified as someone from central casting in a grade-B movie made in the 1940s Like so much else about the man the appearance was totally deceptive ALWAYS HE MOVED slowly deliberately his mind racing ahead “He was one of the shrewdest men I’ve ever known” said one of his officers “He thought fast on his feet I saw them go after him time and time again loaded for bear “But when they met him face to face he ran circles around them He wasn’t eloquent He didn’t have to be He had all those facts and figures stored up in his head and when he needed them out they came He always made his opponents seem sort of silly” Some of his critics felt that the chief’s bark was often worse than the bite of any of his 20 dogs His two fiercest political opponents were the mayors Abe Aronovitz and Robert King High both of whom he outlived Beginning as a patrolman Headley spent 11 years on the force — “the quiet ones” he called them — before he was named chief on August 11 1949 The High-Headley combat a sort of running “Mutt and Jeff” verbal battle began in earnest 10 years ago with the towering Headley bristling every time the diminutive mayor’s name was mentioned MAYOR HIGH constantly sniped at the chief over the “three B’s” — bolita bookies and B-girls” “If Headley can’t enforce the law with 600 men” High said “There are men who can” Repeatedly he tried to have him fired “So the mayor wants to get rid of me?” Headley shot back “Well I’ll go along on the same thing I would like to get rid of him” Once before the B-girls vanished from downtown Miami along with practically all nightlife Headley devised an expensive cure Supplying more than 20 off-duty officers with a total of $500 a night Headley ordered his men into the honkytonks as “guard s” Three days later the campaign died for “lack of funds” At one point Headley went to the Florida Supreme Court for a ruling on how he could be fired The court ruled his way No one could fire the chief of police specifically the Miami City Commission unless formal charges were brought against and proved the court said No mayor ever came close Despite his pronounced opinions Headley almost never lost his temper publicly Nearly always he remained calm controlled PERHAPS HE CAME the closest to outrage when Melvin Reese city manager reshuffled the detective division once at High’s direction while Headley was on vacation “That little jerk!” exploded Headley who soon got things back in the way he wanted them As he sat behind his polished mahogany desk in a room decorated with plaques citations and photographs of celebrities he usually talked in military terms He would discuss "escalation” of crime and how he “deployed” his “troops” against "the enemy" He generally scorned such things as civilian review boards community police relations “Don’t get me wrong” he would say “I believe completely in community relations But I don’t believe we should have to fraternize with hoodlums in order to bring it about “The thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that 95 per cent of our Negro population is made up of good law-abiding citizens We are dealing with five per cent or less — a bunch of hoodlums” Walter Everett Headley Jr was born in Philadelphia Penn on May 11 1905 As a high school dropout at 15 in a much different era he fibbed about his age and joined the US Cavalry and toured Hawaii Mexico and Texas In the Army he acquired a second lieutenant’s commission and his high school diploma “I was promoted because I could ride a horse and play polo” he said a few months ago He had learned to ride as a toddler on his grandfather’s farm in New Jersey Indirectly his love for horses made him a policeman His family moved to Florida in 1923 and he bounced around to several jobs for awhile as a sausage salesman for a meat packer in Tampa then a riding master for Bernard McFadden’s health resort in the mountains of New York In 1932 he moved back as he said “for good” Briefly he worked for the Miami tax assessor Because of the horses though he transferred to the police department in February 1937 to organize the horseback patrol But the idea was dropped He began as a patrolman one of 120 men IN 1944 he took a competitive examination and won one of the first fellowships to Northwestern University’s then “Traffic Institute” and not by chance the Miami Police Department 20 years later had more graduates of Northwestern’s famed police school than any other department in the nation During the war Headley had been “on loan” to the FBI for three years In 1946 he succeeded in starting his mounted patrol which exists today even after a fire two years ago destroyed the department’s nine horses “At first police work was just a job” Headley reminisced late last year “I had to eat” “Then I got interested” “He was a new kind of policeman” a longtime police station observer said not long ago “He was the department intellectual because in those days the police were recruited from the corn fields of south Georgia and north Florida” On Aug 11 1948 City Manager O P Hart appointed him chief Hart a college professor found Headley the only man to whom he could really talk FOR YEARS BEFORE Miami had been pretty much wide open Brothels helped defray city expenses The bookies operated from the sidewalks This was the “liberal policy” When Headley took over he announced sternly “There will be no liberal policy” There wasn’t As chief he inaugurated a drunkometer system which was the first in the state He established a polygraph section a harbor patrol and a crime laboratory And in a day when elsewhere in the South a chief would have ruined a career by such an action Headley started hiring Negro officers In 10 years he had 63 black officers working for him To get them he said Miami watered down an entrance examination for the police academy a part of the University of Miami He established two categories of officers: Whites would be called “policemen” Negroes t' Cavalry Veteran saddle style in late 1930s would be “patrolmen” Five years ago at the urging of Negroes he abolished n 0 Jo the system Recruitment fell drastically “We’re 50 men short right now” Headley said recently “and I’d like to fill every vacancy with a Negro man if I ould find them” AS CHIEF HE deftly out-maneuvered all manner of critics Once when instructed to chop his budget he announced publicly he would fire 30 policemen The threat worked His labor here attacted national attention years ago In 1955 he was elected president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Only last month at a meeting in Hawaii the chiefs association awarded Headley for his department’s use of video tapes in supplanting the traditional lineup For MPD it was another first in the nation HEADLEY twice-divorced lived for 10 years as a bachelor raising three sons with the help of housekeepers and military school Joseph G and Jack T Headley became Miami po-icemen then both returned to school and became lawyers A third son Thomas A FAMOUS NAME" Fashions huge style selection Tremendous color range Low Mid High Heels Thousands of Pairs to Choose FromI Oi W is now in law school at the University of Florida Just seven months ago he married his secretary the former Mary Barnes She was with him in August in his mountain hideaway camp in North Carolina — when he missed both the Republican National Convention and the Liberty City riots Miami’s first severe racial trouble in history August was always vacation month for Headley He wanted to come back but he felt it would show a lack of faith in his men if he did And his final illnes was upon him He was never really worried about being fired — or even retiring “I have no definite plans except that I wear a piece of mistletoe between my shoulder blades” IT WAS THE RESPONSE of a tough cop a man who believed himself right “I’m not in politics” he would say again and again “I’m a professional police administrator” For 20 years three months and eight days he was indeed: Chief of Police Miami Police Department SPECTACULAR SALE! -C Chief ride-To-Ie Leave Courthouse he married secretary seven months ago SUNDAY 10-6 MONDAY 9:30 TO 9:30 MIAMI: 2708 NW 79th St 2650 NW 38th St N 15131 N E 163rd St SO MIAMI: 8691 S Dixie Hwy MIAMI BEACH: 33S Lincoln Rd 1337 Washington Ave FT LAUDERDALE: 2000 N Fed Hwy LAUDERHILL: US 441 (St Rd 7) Opposite Lauderhill Mall POMPANO: 1790 N Fed Hwy MONDAY 9:30-9:30 MIAMI: 45 NE 1st Ave e 9 W Flagler St CORAL CABLES: 223 Mirode Mile HIALEAH 106 Hialeoh Dr fS " tJ Ju i 0m m m

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