As one of the first women trained to be a Henderson police officer , Jackie Miller is part of the 50-plus year history of the Henderson Police Department.
Miller walked the streets, issuing tickets and investigating crimes, before the city invested in new technology and procedures to make officers’ jobs more manageable.
“I have to tell the story about Jackie,” said Gary Urbantke, a former Henderson police officer. “Back when Jackie was parking enforcement, she would always ask for pepper spray or a baton to help her with her job but would never get it. One day, we didn’t hear from her. We went out to see if we could find her, and there she was. She had some guy in an arm bar pressed against his car waiting for back up because she didn’t have handcuffs. She got pepper spray and hand cuffs the next day.”
Miller said the guy grabbed her after she issued him a ticket and had no choice but to put him in an arm lock until back up arrived.
It is just one of many stories that Miller and other department retirees are trying to preserve .
“We want the officers to know where they came from,” Miller said. “But we also want the city to know what kind of department they have, where we started and what we have now.”
Miller and a team of other retired officers are searching for pieces of history that will fill a book to mark the 60th anniversary of the Henderson Police Department, which is scheduled to come out in three years. In addition to the book, the officers plan to display the items at Henderson police stations.
The book is supposed to report historical information such as when the first police motorcycle detail was, when the first canine unit was and who was the first official female police officer.
Miller said there is a 50th anniversary book, which came out in 2008, three years after the actual anniversary.
“But it doesn’t cover the history,” Miller said. “You look at the photos and don’t know who these people are and what they are doing. They should have done a fifth anniversary book and then a 10th, 15th, 20th and so on and so forth. But no one was really thinking about the future. They only thought about what was going on at the moment.”
From old police uniforms and badges to photos and documents, the historical pieces of Henderson’s police have slowly disappeared over the years.
“All the stuff grew legs and walked away,” Miller said. “It didn’t get stolen. It’s the same of what happens at your house. You are cleaning things out one day and think, ‘I don’t need this anymore,’ and toss it out. Then a year later, you wonder where it went. Everyone lived for the present.”
Miller and the other retired officers working on the project are reaching out to whoever they can to find old Henderson police items.
If people have memorabilia they want to donate, Miller will take it.
“It you don’t want to donate, you can loan it to us,” Miller said.
When the displays are put up, there will be a card indicating who loaned it out. Anyone who lets the department borrow items can ask for them back at any time.
Urbantke said they can even just take photos of the items to put in the book.
But more than just collecting items, the history book is collecting stories to tell people how the Henderson Police Department came about.
“It started out with only five officers,” said Bernard Paolini, who served the department from 1991 to 2009. “In the ’60s, we grew to 15 people.”
Paolini is extensively researching the history, going through old newspaper clippings and city documents so the book can have as much in-depth information as possible.
Urbantke, who served from 1978 until he retired in 2006 , and Miller, who served from 1985 until she retired in 2004, are part of the history they are trying to preserve.
“I mean, if you think about it, where is all our history of the Strip?” Miller asked . “It’s imploded. All our history got imploded, too.”
In the end, it is about remembering the people who served the community.
“We want to know all the years we served here meant something,” Miller said.
Anyone who has memorabilia or who wants to share stories about the history of the police can call Miller at 267-4513.
Contact Henderson and Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at email@example.com or 387-5201.