Recently I purchased a book written by Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry titled “JFK Assassination File”. This book was written in 1969, some 6 years after the assassination of President Kennedy and with conspiracy theories mounting around this time, this book would be an ideal way to get some monetary gain from the events in Dallas. Throughout this post I will highlight some of the parts of the book that stand out, and others that seem to be at odds of what he had said 6 years prior. This book was not on the bestseller list by no means, but it does give a viewpoint from the man that not only help set up the security surrounding the President of the United States visit, but also the security of the alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
Throughout the beginning of the book Chief Curry explains the tension that was around Dallas at the time and the divide the city was having when it came to politics. The shooting of General Edwin Walker on April, 10th 1963 was brought up in the beginning pages of the book, and the Chief points the finger to Oswald as the shooter, although this realization comes a month after the assassination of President Kennedy. The shooting of General Walker and the treatment of Ambassador Adlai Stevenson just a month before the Presidential visit prompted Chief Curry to use an unprecedented amount of the police force for the visit of President Kennedy.
In chapter two of his book, Chief Curry squarely puts the blame of the protection of the President on the Secret Service. As he mentions, “The Secret Service was entirely in charge of arranging the route and the press announcement was to be made by the host committee comprised of leading Dallas citizens”. Not known to Chief Curry at this time, one of the leading men on that committee would be the head of the Acme Building Maintenance Company Frank C. Jones, and it was his company that had access to the TSBD the night before the assassination. To Chief Curry, the Secret Service did not do enough prep work for the motorcade route and that areas of the route were not looked at closely. Instead, the area in which the President would be giving his speech, would be heavily guarded by Dallas Policemen. The Police Chief states, “The Secret Service were much more concerned about the security problems of the Trade Mart than any other single element of the President’s stay in Dallas”. Again, the Police Chief refuses to put any of the blame of the assassination onto his police force, and puts the entire blame onto the Secret Service. Many times in the book, Police Chief Curry highlights the things that the Secret Service did wrong, and we know that they did. But at the same time, he highlights things that his department did right. It is hard to think that anything went right during this trip with a President headed back in a casket. It should be noted that Police Chief Curry was aboard Air Force One while Lyndon Johnson was taking the oath of office. Instead of getting to the scene of the crime, he was instead trying to be a part of history that he didn’t need to be at.
Another aspect of the book that is intriguing, is the treatment of Oswald within police custody and the security that was in place for the accused assassin. According to Chief Curry the Dallas police department tried very hard not to let the suspect feel harassed in any way, and he says, “We were trying to be very certain that Oswald was not being coerced or harassed in any way”. Considering that it was the department that allowed the media to see the suspect inside of police headquarters shows that Chief Curry wanted to show that it was his department that captured the assassin of the President of the United States. In the interrogation of Oswald, Curry felt that the government agencies interfered too much and that his men could have gotten Oswald to talk more. As mentioned in the book, “Because of the constant pressure from other investigative agencies, Captain Fritz was never allowed to carry out an orderly private interview with Lee Harvey Oswald”. With the years of experience that Captain Fritz had, Curry believed that information could have come out with just a one on one talk. Again, the Police Chief puts the fault at the hands of the government and does not include any wrong doing that his department had in this process. Although Chief Curry states in his book that the interrogation process was corrupt, his Warren Commission statement seems to show otherwise,
It’s fair to say, then, that the interrogation of Oswald with respect to either the death of Tippit or of President Kennedy was in accordance with the normal procedures of the department ?
It would appear that Chief Curry thought the interrogation of Oswald was within standard procedure, but 6 years later he changed his mind.
The protection of Lee Oswald was something that did fall squarely into the hands of the Dallas Police Department and Police Chief Curry. The transfer of Oswald from Police Headquarters to the County Jail is something that will be looked at for a long time. How could the prime suspect in the murder of the President of the United States be killed while being transferred? The protection of Oswald has been questioned for years and Curry points out many times that he wanted to give Oswald space and rest so that he would be more willing to talk. During the planning process for the transfer it was determined that an armored truck would be taking Oswald to the county jail and that the media would be able to film the transfer. In actuality the armored truck was going to be used as a decoy and Oswald would be in a squad car. It would appear in the reading that the scope of the moment in history may have gotten to Curry because he felt the need to showcase this suspect. Not having been in a situation like this, and feeling the pressure of the national media, Curry decided to let the media into the basement for the transfer of Oswald. In true form as to the rest of this book, Curry states that his department is fully prepared for this event and says, “The security plans for the basement were entirely adequate”. History would prove otherwise to this statement, and Curry refuses to believe that his men let Ruby into the basement. If the security was well placed, then no one other than those from the national media would have been in that basement.
In the book, Curry states that the media was designated an area within the basement away from where Oswald was to be. An area that the media could set up and film the transfer without them seeing the police use the decoy vehicle. As Oswald came out from the elevator and headed into the basement, the media seemed to be right on top of him. This so-called designated area was so close to Oswald that each of them could reach out and touch him. It is Curry that states that he believed that the media made a mad rush to Oswald as he came out of the elevator and this enabled Ruby to get as close as he did within the commotion, he states, “In the enthusiasm of the moment, newsmen spilled across the drive toward the police elevator”. In all of the television broadcasts, it is apparent that all of them were able to set up their cameras in the locations that they were filming from and that they did not move. In the coverage from NBC, the camera is stationary and did not move. This book is a good informative inside look at the details that surrounded the security plans for the President’s visit to Dallas and the aftermath. The details in this book come from a Police Chief that believed his police force did everything they could to protect the President of the United States, and when it did not, he put the blame on others involved. Although the Secret Service was in charge of protecting the President, it was Curry’s police department that was in charge of protecting the truth and it failed when Oswald was killed inside of police headquarters. I recommend this book to those that have followed the assassination so that they can get a look from the view of Jesse Curry.