Police Department


In doing a history of the Police Department of the City of Fairway one finds the development of the police department inextricably linked to the development of the City itself. Since the beginning, the Police Department and City Hall have co-habitated the same facility, so therefore what effects one directly effects the other; what improves one improves the other.

First platted in 1938 by the J.C Nichols Co., Fairway was named for the three private golf courses which surrounded it. Incorporated as a city in May 1949, Fairway consisted of 1,695 citizens living in 590 houses on 520 acres. The first city council meeting convened on July 5, 1949 and before long the City fathers decided that a real city needed real law enforcement. Up until this time the Northeast area of Johnson County was served by the Johnson County Sheriffs Department. Deputies would respond to law enforcement related matters; however, actual patrol was sporadic.

On July 11, 1949 the City Council appointed Norman Williams as City Marshall. He would serve as Marshall until January 1953, at which time he would resign to become Sheriff of Johnson County. His Fairway office would be held by eight subsequent Chiefs of Police.

Fifty-seven years ago Fairway had no street lights and no traffic signals; Shawnee Mission Parkway was Johnson Drive; the City Marshal drove his own car while on duty, volunteered his services and did not have a uniform. It is unknown if he was armed or not.

City Marshall Norman Williams, Fairway’s first police officer, initially served as a volunteer officer using his personal car in the performance of his official duties. Then, as now, the building housing the City Hall and Police Department did double duty serving the citizens of Fairway. The building was a 12x16 foot cubicle at 5244 Belinder, which was subsequently purchased and moved to 50th and State Line where it became the city hall of Westwood Hills.

In order to assist Marshall Williams, in lieu of pay, the city council voted $100.00 towards the Marshall’s car insurance premiums. Other volunteer officers were hired to assist Marshall Williams at a compensation of $1.00 per year. With an officer out working the streets, filing reports and writing tickets a traffic court was established and in session every Thursday night with Judge Henry Sexton presiding. A desk (costing $35.00) and a filing cabinet (costing $63.00) were purchased to handle the increased paperwork that comes with an increased police presence. Speeding on Highway 50 (Shawnee Mission Parkway) was a problem, so in 1948 the underground pedestrian tunnel was built and authority was given for the installation of the city’s first traffic signals at Highway 50 and Mission Rd. and Highway 50 at Belinder. Mayor Sanders was quoted, "Cars used to zip through there at fifty miles per hour." The new police department was ordered to crack down on those speeders, but as Sanders said, "We try to be reasonable, our convictions were all over 40 miles per hour."


Problems reported to the Police Department were as typical then as they are now. A citizens committee appeared before the City Council in November 1949, complaining of speeders on Belinder between Highway 50 and State Park Road. The Sheriffs Department assigned two detectives to assist with investigations into six burglaries in the City. At the December council meeting Marshall Williams was commended for his apprehension of a residential burglar. And the Fairway merchants complained of people double parking in front of their businesses and wanted the police department to enforce the parking laws.

This was a lot of business for Marshall Williams and his unpaid volunteers.

In a following series of articles the development of the Fairway Police Department will be profiled showing its progress from Marshall William’s one man operation to today’s nine officer complement.