Cecil County Public Safety Oral History Project Continues With Additional Interviews

Jim Long joined the force in the early 1970s after returning from duty in Vietnam.

In November 2012, with the encouragement of Willis May, the Historical Society launched the Elkton Police Oral History Project with a group of retired Elkton Police Officers.  The purpose of the initiative was to carefully document the story of the force in the 1960s and 1970s.  As we moved through the preliminaries, Willie, our project leader and a retired detective, suggested we expand the scope, making it the Cecil County Public Safety Oral History Project in order to create a record around all first responders.  Thus we now have a broader objective.

Marshall Purner examines a picture of the force in 1968.

We also promised to give readers periodic updates as we taped additional recordings.  Well today we interviewed two additional Elkton officers, Kenny CIine and Jim Long, from the 1960s and 1970s.  As these two veteran patrolmen hadn’t been seen by their colleagues in decades, a number of additional retirees tagged along.  Once our work is edited, the footage will become a record that is accessible to anyone interested in the subject.

After documenting the interviews, the group enjoyed an informal get together at an Elkton restaurant.  Amidst smiles, waves, and handshakes and tales of long ago, the sense of camaraderie was obvious as they reminisced about the passage of nearly forty years and the challenges of a time when manpower was limited and resources were scant.  And just as if it was yesterday the professional bond, the friendship, and the shared sense of duty in serving and protecting the community was there too.  Oh sure some of those war stories from long ago haven’t suffered at all from repeated retellings.  But there were also conservations about the era when professionalization of policing got its start here as these men had a direct hand in that.
At the Society we are going to continue to work on getting a solid body of oral history material together that captures their experiences serving and protecting the community during the period when criminal justice was evolving to deal with the challenges of some troubling times.  We’ll keep you updated as this initiative moves along.

This morning former members of the Elkton Police Dept. pause for a photo: (L to R) Marshall Purner, Ken Cline, Dwayne Pease, Terry Lewis, Willis May, Joe Zurolo, and Jim Long.


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