Darlington police chief who was forgotten for the last 86 years to be honored for line-of-duty death

In 1933, Darlington Police Chief William McGinty died of a heart attack while arresting a drunken man on Main Street, but until recently his history with the department has been ignored.

“I just came across it by chance,” said current Police Chief Jason King.

King said a few years ago as he was looking through old city council minutes to find interesting city history to feature for its 150th anniversary, he stumbled across the name William McGinty.

“(It said) the mayor appointed Herbert O’Neill chief of police to fill the vacancy caused by the death of William McGinty. Well I’m like, ‘What’s that? There’s no William McGinty,'” said King.

McGinty’s name was not on the roster of police chiefs.

King was especially interested in how McGinty died.

“I went over to the courthouse and was able to actually get a death certificate where it said he died of a heart attack, or rather heart failure, following excitement while performing the duties of police officer,” said King.

It wasn’t until recently that he found old newspaper clippings explaining what happened.

An article written by The Associated Press said that McGinty died “while tussling with a drunken man he has arrested.”

Other articles described the 51-year-old father of two as a “jolly good fellow and well liked by everyone.” They said he was chief for two years and worked with the fire department for 20 years.

“The more digging I do it seems like he was a pretty cool guy and worthy of being properly remembered,” said King.

In 1933 Darlington Police Chief William McGinty died when he had a heart attack while fighting with a drunk man on Main St. For 86 years he was forgotten. Now the current police chief has uncovered records of his death and is working to have him honored. #news3now pic.twitter.com/3B6zG6XaEW

— Amanda Quintana (@AmandaQTV) October 14, 2019

King has submitted McGinty to be honored at the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial at the capitol in May 2020. His name will be added to the memorial site with other officers who have died in the line of duty.

King wants to get McGinty also recognized at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., but that requires a picture of McGinty.

“It just didn’t seem right to me that this guy had been completely overlooked. He wasn’t even on our roster, let alone not being properly recognized by having his name inscribed on these memorials,” said King.

Although McGinty’s wife and two kids have also died, King hopes by getting his story out to the public, a relative or family friends will come forward with more information and a photo.

“If I’m out fighting a drunken man today on Main Street and I die, I would like to think somebody would remember my sacrifice and yet here’s this guy that has gone unnoticed for decades. So it’s time to properly remember his sacrifice,” said King.

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