Former Miami Police Chief Bill Melton, whose career lasted longer than any chief in the history of the police department, died Monday morning at his home. He was 82.
Melton served the City of Miami as chief for 20 years.
“Chief Melton was a no nonsense supervisor that would go to the ends of the earth for the boys in blue,” said Detective Glenn Johnston, who was hired under Melton's administration. “When Chief Melton retired, I felt like a member of the family retired. His work ethic was honest, but stern.”
Johnston said he was fortunate enough to never experience being “called on the carpet” by his former supervisor, but heard it wasn't a pleasant experience.
“From the chief to the animal control officer it has, and I expect it always will, be like family,” Glenn Johnston said. “He was a good man. He will be deeply missed.”
Melton began his career in 1950 with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. He transferred to the Tulsa Police Department in 1951 and served in several law enforcement capacities there until his retirement in 1975.
Two days after he retired, Melton assumed his elected position as police chief in Miami. He retired for the second time in 1995, handing over his seat to Gary Anderson who remains today as chief of the department.
“Chief Melton was a true leader,” Anderson said.
Anderson served as assistant chief under Melton for several years prior to Melton's retirement. Melton continued to give a lot of his time after retirement.
“He truly wanted to help where he was needed,” Anderson said. “He will be thoroughly missed by everyone.”
“I always found chief Melton to be a fair and compassionate man with a great sense of humor,” said Joyce Fitzgibbon, dispatch supervisor.
According to Fitzgibbon he was notorious for wanting to know “who called this meeting?” when approaching more than one person.
“Chief Melton hired me in July of 1989,” said assistant chief Todd Chenoweth. “I remember Chief Melton looking at me and saying ‘you know what your job is, go do it and do it well'.
According to Chenoweth, Chief Melton always seemed kind of quiet, but when his voice was heard around the station, “you knew he was in charge”.
“He had a commanding voice and I recall anytime he would talk to dispatch on the radio, I couldn't help but to look around me to see where he was,” Chenoweth said. “He was a respectable man of law enforcement that taught many things to many officers.”
D.A.R.E. officer Kenny Brodrick credits Melton for being responsible for Miami's Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.
“Bill Melton is the one who recommended that I go to D.A.R.E. Officer Training in 1995,” Brodrick said. “He handed the memo down to then Assistant Police Chief Gary Anderson who approached me. I can truly say that Bill Melton is one of the main reasons that we have the D.A.R.E. program in our city today.”
Brodrick said he still carries Melton's Tulsa PD briefcase.
“He seen that I was in need of something to carry all my paperwork in and did not have a lot funds to purchase a briefcase, so he donated his personal briefcase to the program,” Brodrick said.
In 1960, Melton was selected “Officer of the Year”. He was appointed by the governor in 1971 as Commissioner on the Oklahoma Crime Commission.
He was a member of the advisory board at Tulsa Junior College. He was also a member of the advisory commission on the Council of Law Enforcement Education and Training for 5 years and a member of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Commission for 14 years.
Melton served several years on the City Utilities Board in Miami, according to City Clerk Charles Tomlin.
“Chief Melton had the ability to see the future and to help us grow in law enforcement and prepare us for the 21st century,” said Pat Dale, 911 coordinator. “And he was also a good friend.”