Families of policemen and policewomen -- like families of firefighters -- recognize that look you always see on the faces in photographs of cops. It's a proud look but one that is almost defiant, showing the kind of spirit and attitude that keeps one going to work every day to face the constant threat of danger.
That look is on the face of 19th century Milwaukee Patrolman William Leuenberg on page 29 of Maralyn A. Wellauer-Lenius' book, "Images of America: Milwaukee Police Department," published in paperback by Arcadia Publishing. It's also on the face of Andrew Anewenter, the longest-serving cop in the city on page 125.
Wellauer-Lenius, a Milwaukee native, knows that look well. Her dad was a policeman and, she says, the idea for the book came from him, as well as from the scarcity of information and photographs about the history of the department he served.
"The idea was ‘hatched' many years ago when I was still in school at UWM. All my life I had listened to stories told by my father, a retired MPD patrolman, and his friends. One day I asked him where I could find a history of the department so I could learn more. He asked around but couldn't find anything. I couldn't even find information on all of the former chiefs, so I resolved to someday write an article about the department myself. I actively collected material for this purpose since the mid-1970s. Admittedly, it was not much, since not much was available.
"When I visited city bookstores, I noticed that Arcadia Press had published several titles of local interest. I wondered if they had done a book on the Milwaukee Police Department. I called the regional editor who replied that they had not. He inquired about my interest in the subject and I told him I was a cop's daughter. Without hesitation, he asked me if I would like to write one. I saw this as an opportunity to make an old dream come true and at the same time make a serious contribution to Milwaukee's history."
The book, part of Arcadia's ongoing series of local history works, is heavily illustrated, but don't let the many photos fool you. Wellauer-Lenius' book is packed with interesting stories about the department, the city and the men and women that have patrolled it streets and protected its citizens.
The oldest photos in the book show early department chiefs like William Beck -- who served three terms beginning in 1855 -- Walter Sheldon Johnson (1861-'62) and Herman L. Page (1862-'63). The most recent is a shot of recent chief Nan Hegerty.
In between are 150 years of officers, station houses, police vehicles, academies and more. One photo pictures the front page of a daily newspaper the day after a bomb killed nine policemen and a civilian woman in November 1917.
Wellauer-Lenius -- who has also written books on genealogy -- says that finding photos initially seemed difficult, but continued searching proved fruitful.
"They have preserved thousands of negatives, prints and slides that I looked through before I settled on the photos used in the book. It was very difficult choosing what to include. Many outstanding photographs were candidates, approximately 450 in the first cut. In the second cut, I narrowed the field to about 300. It took another three weeks to make the final decision on the photos finally chosen for the book. That was difficult."
So, how did she decide which photographs would make the cut?
"I selected photographs that best illustrate significant events in Milwaukee's history and the development of the police department and organized them chronologically," Wellauer-Lenius says.
"During the selection process, I tried to decide objectively what would be of greatest interest to readers and evaluated the impact of each image accordingly. The photographs work together to convey the image of a progressive well-trained, well-staffed and well-equipped urban police force."
After spending countless hours researching photos, personal stories and the overall history of the Milwaukee Police Department, Wellauer-Lenius says she finds a continuity that can be traced from the department's earliest incarnations to today.
"I see the same commitment in the department today to faithfully serve and protect the community as ever. Officers are motivated by the same noble ideals and bolstered by a strong code of ethics that have characterized the force since its inception.
"One difference from past to present may be that years ago, policemen had an overwhelming workload with little off-time, but they enjoyed a great amount of respect. Today, it may be reversed. Although officers still have many responsibilities and the job is stressful, they often do not get the respect they deserve for their efforts. Their spirit is derived from the community they serve and protect.
That said, they also have an obligation to conduct themselves in an exemplary way to court respect. Policemen are an integral part of Milwaukee's fabric and they insure our quality of life."
In addition to recounting the history of Milwaukee's police, Wellauer-Lenius says she hopes the book will help readers connect with officers past and present.
"I hope that readers will make a connection with the human side of the officers and appreciate their commitment to service and dedication to duty."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.