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What was the reputation of the Dallas PD in 1963?


Martin White
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I was reading Hurt's account of the evidence in the Tippit case, specifically the shells found at the scene.

The shells that were at first identified as being from an automatic weapon.

Anyway, in dealing with the chain of evidence, Hurt discusses the initials that Officer JM Poe put on the shell casings. Now - Poe said to the WC and to Hurt that he wasn't 100% certain he marked them, but he was reasonably sure, and couldn't remember another instance in 28 years of police work where he hadn't marked evidence. So, on the balance of probability, it seems Poe did mark them.

Hurt also talked with Sgt Gerald Hill, who said that if the shells had been switched [for ones which were fired from Oswald's revolver] then they would have put Poe's initials on there too. This is a good point, one I hadn't thought of before. However, this assumes that the people switching the shells (if it happened) either had the originals in their possession and/or knew that Poe had marked them.

If, for example, the shells in evidence today were created in, say, Washington, while the actual shells were in Dallas, then they might not have known that Poe's initials were ever on there.

It's been suggested that someone handling the shells later in the case put their markings over Poe's. However Hurt has examined the casings in the Archives, and at least half of the available space on the inner face of the shells is clear, i.e. not written on. There would have been no reason for someone to obliterate Poe's markings in making their own.

Hill said something else to Hurt that was interesting. On the proposal by Hurt that the shells had been switched, Hill said [paraphrasing slightly as I don't have the book to hand] "I can imagine that happening in other police departments, but not in Dallas. That department is so clean it scares me."

Let's ignore the fact that a "clean" PD would scare Hill - nothing I have ever seen or read on this case has ever mentioned the Dallas PD being especially clean, or anything even close.

Is there any other evidence, contemporary to 1963 or otherwise, to back up what the perception of the Dallas PD was in 1963?

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