Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Relative On The Iowa Peace Officer Memorial

I don't know if family members are aware that we are related to one of the peace officers whose name is on the memorial located on the state capitol grounds. I've known for many years, since visiting him and his wife in their Des Moines home, that Mort Staggs' father was killed while on patrol, April 20, 1928. I was reminded of her son's demise when researching 'Aunt Bertha' for yesterday's blog post.

This is James A. Staggs' picture from the Officer Down Memorial Page. He was 42 at the time of his death and had been a Des Moines police officer for five years. (Badge # 72) Cause of his death is listed as "vehicular homicide", with weapon: "automobile; alcohol involved".

In this photo, he looks a little older. It is from the Find A Grave website and was added by a retired Des Moines police officer. Here is an account about James' death from the Find A Grave site:

"Appointed to the Des Moines Police Department on March 26, 1923. Killed in the line of duty April 20, 1928 at 6th & Crocker in a patrol car accident.

Officers Staggs and Fred Davis were headed back to the station in their patrol car with a prisoner they had arrested for intoxication. They observed a sedan ahead of them zigzagging back and forth. Assuming the driver of the sedan was drunk, Staggs proceeded to draw up next to the car in an attempt to pull it over. The sedan suddenly swung toward the patrol car, forcing it to veer sharply to the left. At that moment a 6th Avenue streetcar was about to pass the two autos and Staggs turned the patrol car into its path.

Officer Staggs' head was crushed and he lived only a few minutes. Officer Davis received a head wound and a skull fracture and their prisoner had cuts and a skull fracture."

I have family members interested in law enforcement that will probably find this post more interesting than others, but it is a snippet of family history I wanted to share.

James and my grandmother Delphia were first cousins, though Grandma was closer in age to James' son, Mort. I will always remember how welcoming Mort and his wife Louise were when I contacted them and then went to their home in search of family history. And I remember hearing about Mort and Louise from Grandma when growing up, so I believe the two families were close.

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