On January 13, 1883, the village of Garden City was incorporated as a city of the third class. City governmental offices were promptly filled with local townspeople. During that process Newton J. Earp was appointed the first city marshal of Garden City. Newton J. Earp was an older half brother of the famous Wyatt Earp. Mr. Earp served as marshal until he resigned his position on August 6, 1883.
Mr. Earp was a colorful person who served as a law enforcement officer from time to time as well as maintaining his private business. The city had a number of city marshals and "policemen" that did not build much tenure in the position. Finally on October 2, 1917, Lee Richardson was appointed as a night policeman.
Newton Earp and his wife
Mr. Richardson was appointed city marshal on April 30, 1918, and was paid $75.00 per month for his efforts. In January 1919, Mr. Richardson was elected Sheriff of Finney County and served in that position for four years. In Mr. Richardson's absence the city kept a constable and a night marshal.
On January 8, 1923, at the end of Mr. Richardson’s term as sheriff, he was appointed city marshal and instructed to develop a modern police department. At this time Mr. Richardson’s pay was $85.00 per month and $15.00 for auto hire.
On September 25, 1923, Chief Richardson hired Roland S. Terwilliger (Twig) as a motor officer. These two law enforcement officers would become a powerful and well known police force in this area.
Chief Richardson developed Garden City as an identification center for law enforcement. Because of that role, the Garden City Police Department became involved with other departments criminal activity. An example of that involvement is the identification of Jake Fleagle after a bank robbery in Lamar, Colorado, and the kidnapping and murder of Dr. W.W. Wineinger of Dighton, Kansas. That identification helped lead to the demise of the gang.
Chief Lee Richardson and Officer Terwilliger were involved in several exchanges of gun fire with several members of the criminal element. The shoot-outs involved bank robbers, jail escapees and the murderer of a Dodge City, Kansas, police chief.
Chief Lee Richardson served as the Chief of Police until May 1, 1951. Mr. Richardson passed away on August 23, 1957.
It is noteworthy that Chief Lee Richardson, while serving as Chief of Police, developed a zoo for our community. That zoo was named after Lee Richardson just prior to his retirement. In years past the Lee Richardson Zoo was possibly the largest in the state and still draws visitors from a large surrounding area.
Margaret Eiffert was the first female employee of the Garden City Police Department, serving with the Department full-time as a dispatcher from January 18, 1956 to December 31, 1974. She then worked part-time from 1975 until 1980. Eiffert took great pride as a member of the Department, stating at one time, "The whole Department is like a close knit family." Eiffert said she liked the unpredictability of the job, as well as meeting members of the public.