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Thursday, May 9, 2013

National Police Week

This week is National Police Week and in light of the recent events in March 2013 involving the killer of Tom Clements, head of Colorado Prison system, who also shot a Montage County Deputy and fired on dozens of Wise County police personnel and then ultimately was killed in a shoot out in Decatur, Texas- I'd like to say thank you to all law enforcement personnel for taking the oath to Protect & Serve. My Mom (Shirley Wasson), my niece (Delise White who is a Wise County Jailer) & I attended the Taylor County Law Enforcement Memorial Service on May 1st. There have been several years we've attended that we have had some connection to the state roll call. Of course the Abilene officers, Jeff McCoy & Rodney Holder are always close to our hearts, as Daddy was formerly Abilene PD. Then there was Wes Hardy, a Plano Motor Officer who grew up in Wise County; Randy White, a Bridgeport Police officer; and most recently our family friend, David Slayton, a Trooper from Montague County. Thank God that we didn't see the name of James Boyd, Montague County Deputy who was shot on March 21, 2013. I was honored to once again answer roll call for my Grandfather, Deputy Jessie Bryan "Jake" Wasson, Sr. and I count it a privilege to be a part of the law enforcement family. by Donna Bean

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Potosi Cemetery, Abilene, TX



Taking Comfort in a Father's Words by Donna Bean

They say history repeats itself. On July 13, 2011 it did for my mom and I. We found ourselves spending the night in the same 7th floor ICU waiting room of United Regional Hospital in Wichita Falls that we had spent the night in on July 13, 2007. The results were different, as my Dad didn't pull through this time. They say time heals all wounds. Right now, I'm not sure of that. I'm a scrapbooker, but have never considered myself much of a writer. But my Dad was. He wrote police & army reports & manuals, a book about horses back in the 60's, short stories & poems AND he blogged. Right now, I find great comfort in his blogs, all 3 of them! He will live on in the hearts of his family and friends as we continue to read and update them. As one of my friends put it, Dad was an entertainer. He sang, played guitar & told stories. Most of the stories on his blogs seem like tall tales, but all are very true! He lived a colorful life and the blogs prove that. Thanks Daddy for sharing your stories with the world! I love you!
To read some of his stories, go to:
www.wassonslookingback.blogspot.com, www.bowietexasareamusic.blogspot.com or www.talesapd.blogspot.com


Donna Bean
Classified Department
Wise County Messenger

(This was published in the Wise County Messenger newspaper in July 2011.)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

End of Watch 7/14/11



The family of Jessie Bryan Wasson regrets to inform you of his death on July 14, 2011. We hope to continue his 3 blogs, Wasson's Looking Back, Bowie Texas Area Music, and Tales of the Abilene Police Department. He loved writing his stories and there are many he had not posted. The posts may not come as often, but we hope to honor his memory by posting them to his blog.


Please comment on this post if you have additional stories or tales of past events with him.


Thank you for your continued support of our family.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Rocket Launch

Looking Back – The Rocket Launch
By J. Bryan Wasson

To set this story up, I must bring out the fact that I can not swim. In fact I am very much afraid of water. I believe that water is for drinking. If it is not too deep, it is OK for taking a bath. I also believe that there is something seriously wrong with the wiring in folks who ride in boats.

Another factor in this story is a deep curiosity that makes cowboys and motorcycle riders always want to know what is just over the next hill or around the next curve in the road. It is a wonderful to ride through unknown territory on horseback or mounted on a motorcycle.

Another factor in this story is my strong dislike of land development and the urban sprawl that such development brings about. I strongly believe that mankind is a very poor steward of the land that God created. Long ago, I learned that when you see fences come down that once enclosed agricultural lands adjacent to city limits, you know that bulldozers, trucks and builders will soon follow. Somehow, we call this progress.

I was a Motor Officer on the Abilene, Texas Police Department. It was the end of my shift and I was headed for home. I was riding north on the westernmost street north of the rail road tracks. I observed that the fence that had enclosed a mesquite pasture had been torn down. I knew what that meant.  This land that had been a pasture for cattle a few days earlier would soon be a housing development.

I observed a cattle trail winding westward through the mesquite. I could not resist. I jumped the curb and started down that trail.  When I was a mile or more away from the paved street, I found myself on a gentle upward slope. Shortly the slope became steeper. At the time I did not know it, but I was riding up the backside of a dam to a stock tank. Some folks outside Texas call these bodies of water, ponds, but in Texas, they are stock tanks or just plain “tanks.”

Before I knew it, I was over the crest of the dam. On the other side, it was nearly straight down. Behold, below was a great body of water. I knew immediately that I had a serious problem. I can not swim. Even if I dismounted and climbed up the embankment, the motorcycle would go in the water, which appeared to be quite deep.  How in the cat hair could I explain the loss of a police motorcycle? I put my left foot on the ground. I had my other foot on the brake peddle and was squeezing the handle of the front brake. Even so, I felt myself and the machine slowly inching down the steep embankment toward the water.

I knew that I needed help and fast. I grabbed my microphone and called for any Motor unit that was still on duty. I got no answer. All the Motor Officers except myself were probably already at home. In this case, I was not too proud to accept help from a patrol car. I could not reach any car or Headquarters by radio. It was probably because of my antenna being below the crest of this dam.

In those days motorcycles did not have electric starters. I knew that if the engine died or it I shut it off, it would be impossible to kick start the motorcycle on this steep slope. I also knew that the engine was getting hot. I was all alone and had to work this out on my own. Well, I was not completely alone, because I did some serious talking to The Lord along about then. I think it went something like this, “Lord, I got myself into this mess, now will you help me figure a way to get out?”

I dismounted and laid the motorcycle down on its side. I pivoted it around until the front was headed up hill.  I then picked the motorcycle back up and mounted again. I could feel it inching backward with both the front and rear brakes locked. I put the motorcycle into first gear and twisted the throttle wide open. I released both brakes and the clutch at the same time. The big Harley Davidson 74 Cubic inch FLH went up and over the crest of that dam like it was rocket powered.
This was one time when I was glad to see civilization and the paved streets that took me home. I decided it would be a good time to have another little talk with The Lord.

Tales of the Abilene Police Department ( APD)
Abilene, Texas
J. Bryan Wasson
Looking Back

Posted Feb.14, 2011, JBW

Go Jump In The Lake

Looking Back – Go Jump in the Lake
By J. Bryan Wasson

In mid size to large Police Departments, the Chief of Police is an administrator, not a street cop. With the exception of a current Television show called, “The District”, the Chief does not personally get involved in the investigation of crimes and/or the arrest of criminals. The Chief leaves these tasks for underlings.

Within our society, we have created a pecking order of the social structure. In most cities, regardless of size, there is nearly always someone high enough up on the food chain, to cause the Chief of Police to take a personal interest in the investigation of a specific crime or to arrest a specific criminal. In Abilene, Texas during the 1960s, the publisher of The Abilene Reporter News was such a person. He was high enough on the food chain to lay upon the heart of the Chief of Police a desire to take a personal interest in a crime in which the publisher of said newspaper might be the victim.

I was the Lieutenant on duty on the day shift. I was in the Shift Commander’s office in the basement of the Police Station where I supervised patrol activities as well as the operation of the jail. The Office of the Chief of Police was on the ground floor. The phone rang and the intercom button lighted up. This indicated the call was coming from within the Police Department. I answered the phone, “Lieutenant Wasson speaking.” The voice on the other end of the line was that of Warren Dodson, the Chief of Police.  Chief Dodson said, “Meet me upstairs as soon as you can get here.”

I took the stairs two at a time. I found the Chief standing by the front door. He handed me the keys to a car, the unmarked car assigned to
Chief Dodson. This was unusual as no one drove this car except the Chief.  I got behind the wheel and Chief Dodson said, “Let’s go to Fort Phantom as fast as we can safely get there.”

I must digress for a moment to explain that statement. Abilene is the County Seat of Taylor County, Texas. Fort Phantom Hill was located in Jones County, the next county north. Fort Phantom Hill was the site of a frontier Fort that had been established as part of a line of forts designed to protect the settlers from Indians.

Fort Phantom Hill had long since been abandoned, but in past times it had been home to United States Cavalry troops, Confederate troops, and Texas Rangers.  In the 1930’s, I believe it was about 1936 or 37, a lake had been constructed near the old Fort to be the source of water supply for the City of Abilene. The lake was named Lake Fort Phantom.
Most folks referred to the lake as, Fort Phantom, or simply, “the lake.”

At the time the lake was being constructed and water lines laid, the City fathers in their infinite wisdom, put all property surrounding the lake into the city limits of Abilene. This property was connected to Abilene by the width of the right of way for the water pipes, which was also placed within the city limits of Abilene. It should be noted that other towns in Texas that own lakes in an adjoining county have done the same thing. The Abilene Police Department had full jurisdiction on all land surrounding the lake. In addition, the Water Department of the City of Abilene employed a Lake Patrolman. He lived at the lake in a house owned by the City. He had a Patrol boat and a city owned Pickup for patrol on land and with which to move his boat to various launching sites around the lake. He was commissioned both as an Abilene Police Officer and a Jones County Deputy sheriff.

The City owned most property around the lake. Lots were leased to people who could construct houses or cabins on the lots. These were long term leases, but the individual did not retain actual ownership of any buildings placed on these lots. Many people lived at the lake. Many others, who lived in town, had Cabins at the lake. One of these lake cabins was “owned” by the publisher of The Abilene Reporter News. This cabin was located within a cluster of cabins “owned” by a number of people high upon the food chain of the social structure of Abilene, Texas.

As I drove the Chief’s car toward the lake, the Chief informed me that a burglar had been reported breaking in to this cluster of cabins on the west side of the lake that were “owned” by the social elite of Abilene.
I now understood the Chief’s personal interest in this affair which would normally have been handled at a level lower within the organizational structure of the Abilene Police Department.

I must inject at this point that I can not swim and am extremely afraid of water. The proper term for this condition is hydrophobia.

As we approached this cluster of cabins, a man was seen emerging from one of the cabins, He saw us and started running toward a mesquite pasture. The Chief had me to stop long enough for him to get out of the car. He said he would peruse the man on foot and for me to pursue the man in the car. I was driving the Chief’s unmarked car through and over mesquite brush and prickly pear cactus as the man ran, ducked and dogged between the brush. The Chief was close behind on foot.  It was a long chase. I observed that the man was working his way closer and closer to the water.  I am sure that the man was exhausted by this time. When the man reached the water’s edge, he jumped in and started swimming. I had no idea where he thought he was going to swim to because it was a very big lake.

I parked the car near the water’s edge and got out. I just stood there watching the swimming man getting farther and farther away.  The Chief arrived and stood next to me. At about that time, the man went under. He came up waiving his arms and screaming, “Help, Help!” The Chief looked at me as if asking, “What are you going to do?” I raised my right hand high over my head and started waving as I said, “by, by.”

Seeing that this was my only response to the drowning man’s problem, the Chief pulled off his shoes, removed his revolver from its holster and put it in a shoe. He then took off his suite jacket and laid it on top of his shoes. He jumped in the lake and swam out and rescued the drowning burglar.

Our very wet prisoner was extremely docile during our ride back to Abilene. I felt sure that the equally extremely wet Chief of Police would have some words for me based upon my actions or lack thereof to the plight of the drowning burglar. To my amazement, the Chief never said a word during the ride back to Abilene with our wet prisoner. I was never again asked to drive the Chief’s car. 

01-03-03, JBW

Tales of the Abilene Police Department ( APD)
Abilene, Texas
Looking Back
J. Bryan Wasson