City Life

A timeline: Law and disorder in 1967

The Madison Police Department stayed busy in 1967

April 15, 1967: Madison Police Chief Wilbur Emery issues orders barring news media from reading police reports or talking to officers, requiring reporters to rely instead on verbal summaries from a department supervisor. After Attorney General Bronson La Follette calls the policy “ridiculous,” and contrary to state statutes and court decisions, Emery says he didn’t mean to impose a news blackout, and will revise the guidelines. But the policy is still in place on October 31, when the state Supreme Court rules unanimously that Emery could not withhold records merely on the claim that they are “confidential’ and their release would be “contrary to the public interest.” Emery finally complies on December 1, allowing reporters full access except where disclosure would disrupt an investigation or prosecution, would “unduly” damage reputations, or in other limited circumstances.

May 12, 1967: Madison Police Department name Wisconsin Professional Police Association as exclusive agent for collective bargaining, ending 17-year representation by Madison Police Union Local 553.

May 17, 1967: Attorney Stuart Becker, former chair of the county Republican Party, is named President of the Police and Fire Commission. President of the Madison Salvation Army Advisory Board, a member of the Madison Chamber of Commerce board of directors, and a former alderman (1942-46), Becker pledges “moral support” to the police and fire departments, and criticizes the news media for publicizing demonstrations “to a point that is very distressing to our citizenry.”

Aug. 4, 1967: Days after Equal Opportunities Commission public hearings highlighting tensions between police and minority community, the Madison Police Department publishes its first ever recruitment ad identifying itself as “an equal opportunity employer.” MPD would not hire its first office until Sept. 1969—Air Force Sgt. and Vietnam veteran Johnny Winston, 21, father of current Madison Fire lieutenant Johnny Winston, Jr.

April 28, 1967: MPD Det. Charles H. Lulling, 44, spends the late afternoon at Yee’s Café, a Chinese restaurant and bar, 119 S. Webster St, drunk and disorderly and brandishing his service revolver after washing down a handful of prescribed tranquilizers with several martinis. He’s hospitalized immediately after the incident, diagnosed as suffering from depression “superimposed upon a compulsive personality pattern.” On June 7, Emery suspends the 17-year veteran, and later recommends the Police and Fire Commission fire him. At the PFC hearing, the two officers who brought Lulling back to police headquarters testify he looked, smelled and acted drunk, and loudly cursed and threatened to kill a lieutenant, but did not unholster his weapon in their presence. Lulling testifies he can’t remember anything about that day, but had taken more sedatives than had been prescribed “to relieve an unusual tenseness” he could not explain. The PFC on June 24 rejects Emery’s bid to fire Lulling, imposing a four-month suspension instead, and requiring him to continue psychiatric treatment and have a mental examination before returning to work.

Oct. 18, 1967: Emery tells the PFC that crime for the first nine months of the year is up 18% over 1966, with the greatest increase coming in assaults and burglary. So far this year there have been 13 forcible rapes, 22 robberies, 135 assaults, 612 burglaries and 373 auto thefts. There have been no homicides—there were three by this time last year—and one case of negligent manslaughter.

Nov. 23, 1967: A month after Madison police officers were issued the chemical Mace, Ptl. Michael Ponty logs its first use, to subdue two persons who became unruly and threatened him when he tried to issue a traffic ticket. A week later, after another deployment of the concentrated tear gas during a crowd disturbance in the 1300 block of E. Wilson St. allegedly causes a woman to suffer facial burns, lose control of her legs and become hysterical, Wisconsin Civil Liberties Union chairman Prof. William Gorham Rice asks Mayor Otto Festge for a policy statement on its use. In early December, Festge calls Mace “a more humane tool for police to use” than a billy club, muscle power, or a firearm, and says he trusts in each officer’s discretion about when to use it. And he says he’s convinced that “the manufacturer’s claim that it causes no permanent discomfort or harm is true.”

Dec. 6, 1967: As stage and screen legend Ginger Rodgers and her hairdresser execute a quick costume change before the finale of the musical comedy “Hello Dolly” at the Orpheum Theater, a thief slips into the star’s unlocked dressing room and steals about $300 from the hairdresser’s purse.

Return to 15 web extras about the summer of 1967 here.


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