J. T. Alley

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Jonah T. Alley, Jr.

Police Chief in Lubbock, Texas
In office
November 14, 1957 – January 31, 1983

Born June 26, 1923
Lubbock, Texas
Died April 27, 2009
Lubbock, Texas
Spouse(s) (1) Dorris D'Arlene Reed Alley (married 1944-1976, divorced)

(2) Wanda Bullock Alley (married 1976-2009, his death)

Children Five daughters from first marriage
Alma mater Lubbock High School
Religion United Methodist

Jonah T. Alley, Jr., known as J. T. Alley (June 26, 1923 – April 27, 2009), was the police chief in Lubbock, from November 14, 1957, until his retirement on January 31, 1983, the third longest such tenure in the state of Texas.[2] Alley directed police operations after devastating F-5 tornadoes struck Lubbock on May 11, 1970.[2] He was one of the founders and a president of the Texas Police Chiefs' Association.

Early years

Alley was born in Lubbock to Jonah Thomas Alley, Sr. (1886–1976), and the former Edna Ann Mullins Warren (1896–1979).[3] He left Lubbock High School in 1942 to join the United States Marine Corps, where his work as an MP encouraged his later interest in law enforcement[4] and he also participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.[5] After Alley was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1946 he joined the Lubbock police department. In time, he traded the regulation police uniform for a suit with stringed tie and his cowboy boots.[2]

Alley worked his way through the ranks in the police department, having begun as a 23-year-old patrolman on September 4, 1946. When he joined the force, Lubbock officers still walked their beats, had just two squad cars, and relied on call boxes in an era before the availability of two-way radios. Alley was promoted to sergeant in 1947, elevated to captain in 1951, and named deputy chief in early 1953.

Lubbock police chief

A police innovator, Chief Alley launched the first (1) Juvenile Division, (2) K-9 Corps, (3) Rape Crisis Center,(4) Special Weapons and Tactics teams in Lubbock, (5) and Crime Line. He was the last living founder of the Texas Police Chiefs' Association, which was organized in 1958. His role in the founding of the Texas Police Chiefs' Association was recognized by the Texas State Legislature before the House and Senate in Austin on February 13, 2007 and the association in 2008.[2] On September 10, 2007, the City of Lubbock and Lubbock Police Department renamed the Lubbock Police Academy to the Lubbock Police Academy J. T. Alley Training Center. At the dedication of the Training Center, Chief Alley, speaking of his career, said "It's been quite a ride".

During the 1960s, Alley presided over the racial integration of the police department and assigned and promoted officers regardless of their racial backgrounds.[4] Near the end of his tenure, Alley was accused of having made a racial slur, a charge which aroused the ire of the African American and Hispanic communities in Lubbock. He told The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that the media had misinterpreted his remarks after he disciplined an officer regarding an improper warrant. "I was trying to impress upon [the corporal] that he should treat everyone alike, regardless of what color they were, and I think that was taken and blown out of proportion. If anyone will take the whole statement, they'll see what I was trying to do", Alley said in 1983.[2]

Although he did not attend college, Alley encouraged his officers to do so. He and his family were proud of his graduations from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, in 1953, and the Northwestern University Traffic Institute in Evanston, Illinois.[4]

Alley was a staunch opponent of police unions. In 1965, he deterred union representatives from an attempt to organize the department with a threat of jail and police dogs.[2]

Mayor Tom Martin, then the Lubbock municipal public information officer, recalls having waited with Alley in 1970 at the Emergency Operations Center as the F5 tornado struck the police station itself. Martin said that Alley, concerned for his officers, braved still fierce winds and large flying debris, as he ran from the basement toward the building. Because the tornado flattened the police radio, Alley made a commercial radio broadcast that police would shoot looters. Not a single instance of looting was thereafter reported.[2]

Family and death

On January 8, 1944, Alley married the former Dorris D'Arlene Reed (June 10, 1926 – November 5, 1996), formerly of Bremerton, Washington,[3] and the couple had five daughters. They divorced in 1976, and Alley remarried. The second wife was the former Wanda Bullock (1925-2010). Alley was an avid bowler, a member of two leagues. He bowled his last games two nights before his brief illness and died two months before what would have been his 86th birthday.[4]

Alley's obituary calls him "as true a citizen of Lubbock as ever there was."[4] Retired Assistant Police Chief Tom Mann added, "You always hate to see a legend pass away."[2]


1 "Lubbock Police Department Historical Photos". Police.ci.Lubbock.Tx.us. http://police.ci.lubbock.tx.us/History/6.htm. Retrieved May 2, 2009.

2 a b c d e f g h He "Elliott Blackburn, "Late police chief saw city through tornado, was known for stern fairness"". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. http://www.lubbockonline.com/stories/042809/loc_434252352.shtml He. Retrieved May 1, 2009.

3 a b "Social Security Death Index". Rootsweb.ancestry.com. http://ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/ssdi.cgi. Retrieved May 1, 2009.

4 a b c d e "Obituary of J. T. Alley, Jr.". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. http://lubbockonline.com/stories/043009/obi_434823900.. Retrieved May 1, 2009.

5 Philip A. St. John (1996). The Battle for Leyte Gulf. Turner Publishing Company. p. 76. https://books.google.com/books?id=DKt-ZLN4PuoC&pg=PA76#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved August 10, 2011.