Madison Police: Some History

1959: A Bad Year for Madison Cops

MARCH 26, 2009, By Stu Levitan


Chief Bruce Weatherly

“At around 11 p.m. on Jan. 8, 1959, Madison Police Chief Bruce Weatherly rammed a tanker truck at the intersection of East Washington Avenue and Stoughton Road.

“The chief, it so happened, was stinking drunk. He’d been drinking all day, pounding back old-fashioneds with his secretary at the Hoffman House. It was when he tried to drive her home that he had his life-altering accident, suffering multiple shoulder fractures and a concussion.

“On Feb. 26, after a special aldermanic inquest, the Common Council voted 17-3 to charge the chief with five counts of misconduct, including drinking on duty and suppression of evidence.

“Mayor Ivan Nestingen personally filed the formal complaint with the Police and Fire Commission, whose members included future federal judge James E. Doyle Sr. On April 13, after a one-week hearing, the PFC voted 4-1 to fire Weatherly, effective immediately. (He was later replaced by Madison native Wilbur Emery, 37, a former Marine who led the police force through the 1960s.)

“On July 2, technicians confirmed longstanding rumors when they ripped out an extensive series of microphones and recording devices Weatherly had secretly installed throughout police headquarters. The former chief had bugged 17 rooms, including the conference room used by the PFC when it deliberated his ouster.”

As an example of this period of time Chief Weatherly established the following departmental rules as to how the 102 policemen and nine civilian employees were to conduct themselves while in headquarters:

  1. Officers will not sit upon desks nor place feet upon desks or chairs.
  2. Officers will address their superior officers by their title and name and not by first names.
  3. Excessive familiarity with women employees will not be tolerated.
  4. Officers in uniform will not smoke in view of the general public.
  5. Officers will not eat meals or drink coffee in any office or room other than the squad Room.
  6. Women employees will be designated a room in which to eat their lunches.
  7. Unnecessary noise, boisterousness, or horse play will not take place in the police building.
  8. No loitering will be allowed in the police department lobby or any office by any person or officer.
  9. Officers assigned to headquarters will not leave except on approval of their superior officer.
  10. Officers will not use the phones for unnecessary personal calls.
  11. Uniformed officers reporting for duty will use the south door to the police building, and go directly to the squad room for duty. The policemen will report for inspection by their superior officer in the squad room before starting work.
  12. Any suggestion by an officer with a view of improving police service will be considered by the chief of police. These suggestions will be addressed to the officer’s commanding officer for the attention of the chief of police and shall be signed by the officer making the suggestion.
  13. Do not lean against walls nor place heel marks or hand prints upon walls at the police station.
  14. Police Station desks and desk tops will be kept neat and clean. Desk drawers will be kept free from unnecessary materials and will be subject to inspection.
  15. Unsightly papers, books, folders, and other forms will not be left open to view at the police station.
  16. No calendar of any type will be hung on the walls of the police department.
  17. Maps-, pictures, posters, etc., will be placed upon walls of the police building only upon the approval of the chief of police.
  18. No paper, trash, cigarettes, or other material will be thrown or left on the floors of the police station.
  19. If necessary, space or shelving is required for storage of any materials, address an officer’s report to the commanding officer for the attention of the chief of police.
  20. The squad room shall be kept neat and clean.
  21. The rest rooms will be kept clean. Do not throw trash, towels, or other materials in the restrooms.

Policemen were also told they had to make written reports of all cases investigated, by using new report forms designed by Chief Weatherly to facilitate police work and to provide a more effective and complete record system. [Thanks for Madison Det. Bob Rahn (Ret.) for digging up the 21 rules and sharing them.]

I have to admit this was a bit of a strange environment when I compared the police department I entered during the same time period Edina, MN, 1960). It was not like Madison! A little over a decade later, I came in as the new police chief!


  1. Paul Soglin told me that when he bought the house on Princeton Avenue from the Pelliteris, who had purchased it from Weatherly, Paul had a suspicion that Weatherly might have bugged the house, too, and indeed it turned out to be true.


  2. Police in Baltimore County homicide squad as well as Maryland State Police are corrupt and have covered up the brutal murder of my son.

    This is fact and no one in Baltimore County or the State of Maryland will further investigate and they just turn a blind eye.

    It is sickening and unconscionable.
    I/we have all of the evidence and they will do nothing!

    Adrienne Miranda

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Take a lesson from Michael Bell from Kenosha, Wisconsin and how he presses on regarding the questionable death his son a few years ago. Search my blog here for some posts regarding his pressing efforts!


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