END OF WATCH: August 6, 1918
Cleveland Police Department
On November 16, 1913, Alfred Ressler was appointed to the Cleveland Police Department and almost five years later, he would find himself assigned to a unit in the department that was still attempting to gain acceptance from some police officials and members of the public.
It was the dawn of a new era, not only in police circles, but in the way the world would soon rely on to convey people and goods from one place to another. It was the time of the horseless carriage.
In Cleveland, motor vehicles were probably still outnumbered by those powered by horse. This city was the automobile manufacturing capital of the world and no one at that time could have predicted the future role the motorized vehicle would play in our society or what an indispensable tool it would become for law enforcement.
Patrolman Ressler was assigned to control the speed and safe operation of these machines from his police motorcycle. It must have been quite a job. Manufacturers, experienced in turning out bicycles and sewing machines now turned their attention to making automobiles. The driving public was limited only to those who were not blind, crippled or crazy. This was the job facing the motorcycle officer of 1918.
Over the years to come, the motor vehicle would become accepted as one of the most important tools in law enforcement. It would also come to be recognized as one of the most deadly.
On August 5, 1918, Alfred Ressler was killed in an accident when his police motorcycle was struck by an auto. Patrolman Ressler became the first of too many officers that have died in the performance of their duty in motor vehicle accidents.
Alfred Ressler’s name is inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall, Washington, D.C. panel 5, east wall, line 1.
By P.O Thomas Armelli & Det. James T. Farmer, Cleveland Police Dept.