TESTIMONY OF PERDUE WILLIAM LAWRENCE beginning at 7H577...
The testimony of Perdue William Lawrence was taken at 9:15 p.m., on July 24, 1964, in the office of the U.S. attorney, 301 Post Office Building, Bryan and Ervay Streets, Dallas, Tex., by Mr. Burt W. Griffin, assistant counsel of the President's Commission.
Mr. GRIFFIN. My name is Burt Griffin, and I am a member of the general counsel's staff of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, and the Commission has been set up by Executive order of President Johnson and a joint resolution of Congress. These two official acts have directed the Commission to investigate into the assassination of President Kennedy and the death of Lee Harvey Oswald, to evaluate all the facts we find and report back to President Johnson upon them. We have asked you to come here in particular this evening, Captain Lawrence, because we are interested in the security precautions that were taken both in connection with the protection of President Kennedy and in the prospective transfer of Lee Harvey Oswald to the county jail. I might say that there are a set of rules and regulations that have been promulgated by the Commission and under these rules and regulations I have been designated to take your deposition. You are entitled to receive a written notice 3 days in advance from the Commission. It has been the practice with all of the police officers who have testified that we have simply written a letter to Chief Curry and he has been good enough to make you people available. I assume that you haven't received proper notice, and I will ask you at this time if you are willing to waive that notice?
Captain LAWRENCE. Certainly.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Since you are willing to waive the notice, if you will raise your right hand I will administer the oath to you. Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Captain LAWRENCE. I do.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Would you state your full name for the record, please?
Captain LAWRENCE. Not my initials--my full name?
Mr. GRIFFIN. Your full name.
Captain LAWRENCE. Perdue [spelling], P-e-r-d-u-e William Lawrence [spelling], L-a-w-r-e-n-c-e.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Where do you live, Mr. Lawrence?
Captain LAWRENCE. 1623 South Clinton.
Mr. GRIFFIN. When were you born?
Captain LAWRENCE. In August--1911--August 18.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Are you employed with the Dallas Police Department?
Captain LAWRENCE. I am
Mr. GRIFFIN. And what is your rank?
Captain LAWRENCE. Captain of police.
Mr. GRIFFIN. And how long have you been with the police department?
Captain LAWRENCE. Nineteen years.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Were you captain of police on November 22, 1963?
Captain LAWRENCE. I was.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Were you in charge of any particular department?
Captain LAWRENCE. Traffic at this particular time. I am in charge of the accident prevention bureau of the Dallas Police Department, but my specific assignment was traffic control for the Presidential motorcade.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Was this a special 1-day assignment that you had?
Captain LAWRENCE. Well, in this particular case--it was for this particular occasion.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Was there any other person in the department who regularly was concerned with what you call traffic control?
Captain LAWRENCE. Yes; Capt. R. A. Thompson.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Is there any reason why you handled the traffic control responsibilities for the Presidential motorcade rather than Captain Thompson?
Captain LAWRENCE. None that I know of; none that I can think of except that Chief Batchelor saw me and said, "I want you to get together with Lieutenant
Southard." Lieutenant Southard works for Captain Thompson and we were to use my motorcycle officers and his corner men, so, because of the motorcade part of it, I assume that this was the reason that it was turned over to me. Normally on parade or a special assignment and such, this is under the jurisdiction of Captain Thompson, but because of the escort part of it, I am assuming that this was why it was given to me. I would like to also add that Captain Thompson and I work evenings on alternate Friday and Saturday nights, and I was scheduled to work daytime hours on Friday, November 22, and this may also be a reason I was given this particular assignment. Captain Thompson did work evenings on Friday, November 22, 1963, and Saturday, November 23, 1963.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Had you participated in other traffic control projects in the past?
Captain LAWRENCE. Yes; I had.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Had you ever been involved in one that involved the President of the United States or any other important official who required special protection?
Captain LAWRENCE. No; I had not.
Mr. GRIFFIN. In your experience in the Dallas Police Department, had there ever been a time when there had been a President or an important person who had come through who required special protection?
Captain LAWRENCE. Yes; but not in which I was directly assigned to any duties. When President Kennedy came to town to visit Mr. Rayburn at Baylor Hospital, Lieutenant Curtis was in charge of that detail and I don't know if I was on a day off or what it was, but I was not in charge of that detail at all. I made none of those arrangements.
Mr. GRIFFIN. From whom did you receive your instructions in connection with the duties that you were to carry out?
Captain LAWRENCE. My immediate superior was Deputy Chief R. H. Lunday, and I received my instructions from Chief Lunday and Asst. Chief Batchelor; both of them.
Mr. GRIFFIN. When were you first told that you were to be in charge of this traffic control?
Captain LAWRENCE. The first day was on a Tuesday--November 19.
Mr. GRIFFIN. And who told you at that time?
Captain LAWRENCE. Chief Batchelor.
Mr. GRIFFIN. And what did Chief Batchelor tell you at that time that your responsibilities would be?
Captain LAWRENCE. He told me he wanted me to go over this route and to start working with the assignments of men to the intersections on the motorcade route, and he said that he had gone over this route and handed me a list of intersections that he wanted covered and the amount of men he wanted on each intersection and the reason he wanted more than one or two at certain intersections was because of the turning movements of the motorcade, but he also wanted assignments made to certain overpasses and told me the number of men that he would like to have stationed on the overpasses.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Did he tell you the names of the particular men he wanted on the overpass?
Captain LAWRENCE. He gave me the names of no men. He told me to make the assignments, and when he handed me this list, he was either with Chief Lunday or I went immediately to Chief Lunday and asked for the assistance of Lt. W. F. Southard because he--his men would be directly involved also in these assignments.
Mr. GRIFFIN. I notice you have a list in your hand. Is that the list Chief Batchelor gave you?
Captain LAWRENCE. That's the list that Chief Batchelor gave me.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Would you mind if we marked this and returned this for our file?
Captain LAWRENCE. No; not a bit. I would like to add that it was not requested that I bring any papers with me. I did bring with me some original personnel assignment notes for the purpose of refreshing my memory, and I see no reason why my superiors would object to any requests made by this Committee.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Let me now turn this over and I will state for the record that it consists of five small white sheets of paper, roughly 2 1/2 by 5 inches in size, and
there are a number of handwritten notations on it and I'm going to mark this on the back.
Captain LAWRENCE. I believe this to be the handwriting of Chief Batchelor.
Mr. GRIFFIN. I'm going to mark this Capt. P. W. Lawrence Deposition, July 24, 1964, Exhibit No. 1. In handing this memo to you, did Chief Batchelor say anything to you about what the men on the overpass were supposed to do?
Captain LAWRENCE. He was stationing the men on the overpass to see that no one else came onto the overpass so that no one would be over the motorcade when the President passed under it.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Other than stationing people at intersections, were you given any instructions as to stationing men in between blocks?
Captain LAWRENCE. Not at that time.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Now, after the 18th of November did you later receive further instructions from your superiors?
Captain LAWRENCE. Yes, sir, I did.
Mr. GRIFFIN. When did you next receive instructions?
Captain LAWRENCE. I next received instructions well, during the week we discussed this with Chief Lunday and Assistant Chief Batchelor---certain assignments as far as the motorcycle escorts were concerned, and not directly at that time regarding stationing of any men on any particular corner.
I might add that when Lieutenant Southard and I went over this route, we found one intersection open and which was on Record Street, which raised our total---this is my writing here [indicating].
Mr. GRIFFIN. Yes, this is at the bottom of the second page and you have written in the word "Record."
Captain LAWRENCE. That's right----that's my handwriting and during that week I was next told, of course, to contact other people regarding the route connected with the motorcade to see that no trains would be coming across at the time that the Presidential motorcade was passing through.
Mr. GRIFFIN. These were grade crossings that you are talking about?
Captain LAWRENCE. Grade crossings--yes.
Mr. GRIFFIN. At the time of your first meeting with Chief Batchelor were you given any special instructions about the protection of the President?
Captain LAWRENCE. None.
Mr. GRIFFIN. When was the next time you received some instructions from one of your superiors?
Captain LAWRENCE. The next time was, to the best of my knowledge, the motorcade assignments--possibly 2 days before the President arrived---I asked how we would escort this motorcade.
Mr. GRIFFIN. And with whom did you discuss that?
Captain LAWRENCE. Chief Lunday and Chief Batchelor.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Was anybody from the Secret Service present at that time?
Captain LAWRENCE. Not at that time no.
Mr. GRIFFIN. What were you told about the purpose of the officers that were being provided, if anything?
Captain LAWRENCE. I was told that there would be these lead motorcycle officers, and that we would also have these other officers alongside the President's car and the Vice President's car, and some of the others that would be in the motorcade, and approximately how many officers would be needed for the escort, and at that time I had prepared a list of 18 solo motorcycle officers, this included three solo sergeants.
I was also instructed that about this motorcade--that when it reached Stemmons Expressway, Chief Batchelor told me that he wanted a solo motorcycle officer in each traffic lane, each of the five traffic lanes waiting for the motorcade, so that no vehicles, on Stemmons Expressway would pass the motorcade at all and he wanted these solo motorcycle officers to pull away from the escort and get up there on Stemmons Freeway and block the traffic, and some of these officers, he stated, would pull past the Presidential car.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Would this include blocking oncoming traffic?
Captain LAWRENCE. This would stop all oncoming traffic on Stemmons Freeway.
Mr. GRIFFIN. All the way to the Trade Mart?
Captain LAWRENCE. No, sir--this would stop all traffic that would be northbound on Stemmons, on--all northbound traffic on Stemmons Expressway, in the five lanes of traffic, so when the motorcade came onto the freeway, that no cars would be able to pass it, that the motorcycle officers would stop the traffic, and then the motorcycle officers after all the motorcade was headed for the Trade Mart, that then these motorcycle officers would slowly move up, but they would keep all the traffic behind--all the northbound traffic.
Mr. GRIFFIN. But, the southbound traffic would be permitted to run in the southbound lanes?
Captain LAWRENCE. That's right.
Mr. GRIFFIN. When did that conversation take place?
Captain LAWRENCE. That conversation took place about the 20th of November---2 days before.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Now, did you receive another set of instructions or orders after that?
Captain LAWRENCE. Yes; on the evening of November 21, this was the first time that I had attended any security meeting at all in regards to this motorcade. At approximately 5 p.m. I was told to report to the conference room on the third floor, and when I arrived at the conference room the deputy chiefs were in there, there were members of the Secret Service--Mr. Sorrels, Captain Gannaway, Captain Souter of radio patrol, and Capt. Glen King, deputy chiefs, assistant chiefs, and Chief Curry, and one gentleman, who I assume was in charge of the security for the Secret Service. This was the first time I had attended any conferences in regard to the security of this escort, and I listened in on most of the discussion and I heard one of the Secret Service men say that President Kennedy did not desire any motorcycle officer directly on each side of him, between him and the crowd, but he would want the officers to the rear. This conversation I overheard as Chief Batchelor was using a blackboard showing how he planned to handle this--how plans had been made to cover the escort.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Was anything said in that meeting about any special precautions that should be taken in connection with protecting the President?
Captain LAWRENCE. Yes; there was some discussion that centered more around the security down at the Trade Mart than any other place and Captain Gannaway was in charge of the security in that area, and then Chief Stevenson, I believe, was there, and they mentioned that they would have detectives stationed along the route--along the motorcade route, especially in the downtown area.
Mr. GRIFFIN. And what were they to be looking for?
Captain LAWRENCE. They were taking care of security, all right, but they did not go into any discussion in my presence. I assume that this had all been, discussed earlier, in fact, when I was called up there, these people were already meeting.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Did you ever receive any instructions as to what the men were to do whom you stationed at the various intersections and elsewhere along the route?
Captain LAWRENCE. Yes; I discussed this with Chief Lunday two or three times and Chief Batchelor two or three times before this meeting ever took place and we discussed the fact that maybe some demonstrators with placards might show up and that the officers stationed along the route should be instructed to be on the alert for any persons that might throw anything or make any movement that might endanger the President at all, and if there were any incident of that nature, that the person would be arrested immediately.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Was there any discussion between you and your superior officers about watching the buildings and windows in the buildings or the tops of the buildings?
Captain LAWRENCE. No, no instructions were given to me about my men watching the buildings--no, so, mine were more crowd control instructions--to watch the crowds, to keep them back, and to block off the traffic and to block off the streets on the approach of the motorcade and not to let them by--and to keep the crowds back.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Were there other men who were going to have other responsibilities?
Captain LAWRENCE. Yes, it was my understanding that the other responsibilities in regard to security were to be handled by the special service bureau and the members of the criminal investigation division.
Mr. GRIFFIN. And were they going to be stationed along the routes?
Captain LAWRENCE. It was my understanding that they would be.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Were you ever informed as to how many men would be in each particular location?
Captain LAWRENCE. I was not.
Mr. GRIFFIN. With specific reference to Dealey Plaza and the area of Elm and Houston and the School Book Depository, did you have any idea of how many Secret Service or detective bureau people or CID people would be in that area?
Captain LAWRENCE. I did not.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Did you ever receive any advice or instructions from any member of the Secret Service about watching buildings or performing other functions other than the normal crowd controls which you have just mentioned?
Captain LAWRENCE. I did not.
Mr. GRIFFIN. When you met with the Secret Service, what do you recall that the Secret Service did discuss?
Captain LAWRENCE. I sat in on the discussion and I did not participate in any at all, and from what I heard there would be sufficient personnel inside the Trade Mart--they were discussing this, and these detectives assignments were not the ones that I was at that time primarily instructed in, so--I know that they had made some elaborate precautions, which no one discussed with me, but I don't remember all of the conversation that went on regarding that. I was particularly interested in traffic assignments and these were the ones I was listening for.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Was there ever any discussion that you heard about taking precautions designed to prevent some sort of assault on the President that would be more severe than simply placards, picketing, and people throwing rotten eggs and vegetables, and things like that?
Captain LAWRENCE. Not to my knowledge, other than the fact that the Secret Service man in there--when it was mentioned about these motorcycle officers alongside the Presidents car, he said, "No, these officers should be back and if any people started a rush toward the car, if there was any movement at all where the President was endangered in any way, these officers would be in a position to gun their motors and get between them and the Presidential car," and he mentioned, of course, the security and safety of the President and those words were mentioned.
Mr. GRIFFIN. But was that concept of the security and the safety of the President spelled out in any certain details?
Captain LAWRENCE. Not to my knowledge. Now, you see, I'm not familiar with .some of the things that were discussed with the other bureau commanders. Now, I didn't know until that time who was going to be in charge at the Trade Mart.
Mr. GRIFFIN. What time is that that you have reference to?
Captain LAWRENCE. Sometime between 5 and 6 p.m. on November 21. I knew at that time that Captain Souter would be in charge, and when I was so advised, after this meeting I asked Souter if I could meet him down at the Trade Mart, and discuss how the motorcade would come into the Trade Mart, and they had discussed also about keeping an area open down there and it had also discussed with me--- I might add one thing that I had forgotten to say before that there would be two officers remain with the Presidential car while he was in the Trade Mart. This was told to me by Assistant Chief Batchelor--to the best of my knowledge.
After this conference, I asked Captain Souter if I could meet him down at the Trade Mart and he said he would be down there and then I called Sgt. S. Q. Bellah [spelling] B-e-l-l-a-h. I called him on the phone at home and asked him if he could meet me down there because he was going to be the leading solo motorcycle sergeant. He met me at the Trade Mart with Stavis Ellis, another
solo motorcycle sergeant, who was going to be leading the Presidential motorcade and I met with both of them down there on the evening of the 21st, so that I would know how they would come in the area and how they were to be escorted around in the area.
Mr. GRIFFIN. I take it from what you said, that your principal concern then was keeping the motorcade moving smoothly?
Captain LAWRENCE. That's right.
Mr. GRIFFIN. And there was no special attention brought on your part to the question of actually protecting the President other than from some impediment to the actual movement of the automobile.
Captain LAWRENCE. Mainly--my understanding was mainly that my assignment was for crowd control and, of course, security would be involved in it, as far as anyone making any movements in the crowd.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Now, did you prepare a list of the assignments that you gave in stationing your men along the route?
Captain LAWRENCE. I did and I might add another thing that I have overlooked here, that Chief Batchelor had also instructed me to have one man on a three-wheel motorcycle--to station this one man over the Stemmons overpass at Industrial, to make sure that no car stopped and no people stopped there who would be in a position to throw anything down when the motorcade came off of Stemmons Freeway to make its turn onto Industrial, and there would be a three-wheeler up there and he had specifically instructed me on that, which to me was security as well too.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Were you given any general instructions to go out and look along the route for special security problems that might arise along the route?
Captain LAWRENCE. No; I was not, but I did do this.
Mr. GRIFFIN. What did you do in that regard?
Captain LAWRENCE. This is getting ahead, but after the detail was put out in the-detail room and I had talked to the motorcycle officers and the motorcade officers and had given them their instructions, I then went out to Love Field with Maj. George Tropolis of the police reserves who is in charge of the police reserves and awaited the arrival of the President and to see that all the motorcycle officers were at the proper location, I had already given a copy of the detail to each one of the sergeants and their instructions and when we were out there at the airport, the weather cleared up and the officers put their raincoats, of course, in the motorcycle saddlebags and when the Presidential plane arrived and President Kennedy got off of the plane, I saw that there was going to be a brief ceremony there, and I knew that Chief Lumpkin was going to---I had been told was going to be ahead of this motorcade I got in my car and tried to be a few blocks ahead of him to make sure that everybody was on their assignments, and, of course, the crowd, the huge crowd en route surprised me, especially in the residential area, that all the people had turned out to see the President. I didn't expect a crowd this big, and, of course, we had officers stationed at many intersections along the route, but not at every intersection until we got to the downtown area. Not every intersection was covered, but as I went along the route, this didn't look like it was necessary because the crowds already had blocked the streets, and no motor vehicle could have crossed some of these streets. As I came up to many of these intersections--I slowed my car down and I was in uniform, but I was driving a plain car which I drive, and I told the officers to keep the traffic in back of me moving and not let any vehicles cross because I could hear Chief Curry on channel 2 giving the location of the motorcade from time to time, and I knew a few blocks ahead of him would be Chief Lumpkin, and I knew that I would have to stay considerably ahead of him. Although I was not given this assignment--I proceeded on this route, and I followed it on down to the Trade Mart.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Let's go back a little bit and let me ask you--when did you first give instructions to the men who were actually stationed along the route as to what they should do?
Captain LAWRENCE. I gave them those instructions on the morning of November 22 and I had with me at the time--I had the detail with me and some notes that I had written. I first told the men the approximate time of the arrival
of the President's plane at Love Field. Then, I went over the route that the motorcade would take to the Trade Mart and then the approximate time they were scheduled to be at the Trade Mart and then to leave for Love Field.
I stated that there would be some assignments which we would call assignment No. 1, assignment No. 2 and assignment No. 3. Some officers would only have one assignment and some would have two and some would have three, and that these assignments would be given to them by Lieutenant Southard, that there would be supervisors stationed along the route, cruising the route, and would be able to assist them. I then covered the supervisory assignments, telling them where these sergeants would be stationed along the route, and if anything came up they were to contact them.
Mr. GRIFFIN. The men you assigned, from the instructions that you gave them, what would you expect that these men would do besides simply keep people from running out into the motorcade of cars?
Captain LAWRENCE. They are crowd control--for the motorcade to move and I also gave the men instructions that it would be no violation--for persons to carry placards, that we, expected very little of this, but that they were to be alert to any unusual movements in the crowd so that no one threw anything at the President, that there would be no repetition of the Ambassador Stevenson incident, that President Kennedy was the President of the United States and entitled to the courtesy and protection of this office, and it was their duty to see that this was done, and if there were any violations of the law of any type, that they would arrest individuals immediately, and these were the specific instructions.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Now, if a man, captain, one of your men was placed at a station--was actually standing out there and acting pursuant to these orders, first of all, let me ask you what direction would he be looking; would he be looking toward the street or would he be turned around and facing the crowd?
Captain LAWRENCE. He would either be facing the crowd or facing the street, depending on the necessity at that time. He was given no specific instructions except that he was not told specifically that he would face the crowd on the traffic assignments, but he was told that he was to watch the crowd, so I wouldn't say that the man--that all of the men on the route were specifically instructed to face the crowd. I gave them no such instructions.
Mr. GRIFFIN. As you drove down the route preceding the motorcade, did you observe just exactly what these men were doing?
Captain LAWRENCE. Yes; most of the men were watching the oncoming traffic and keeping it moving. They were keeping this oncoming traffic moving. Some of the men were trying to push the crowd back, especially in the downtown area. There were many of them facing the crowds there and trying to push the crowds back, and this was, I imagine, about a mile ahead of the motorcade.
Mr. GRIFFIN. As a practical matter--stationing as you did two men at each intersection generally---could two men have effectively prevented anyone who was bent upon attacking the President, could they have effectively prevented him from rushing out and doing something?
Captain LAWRENCE. If they saw them in time, but two men, in as large a crowd as that--these men had all they could handle, with as large a crowd as we had turn out for that motorcade. It was a full-time job keeping the crowd back, and this was what the officers were trying to do.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Have you given any thought, or do you have any suggestions as to how a police department the size of the Dallas Police Department could have stationed more men along the route so that they could have effectively--not only kept the crowd back but could have been effectively on the lookout for people who might want to rush out and do something?
Captain LAWRENCE. Well, looking back on it, I would say, with the manpower that we had for this particular job and the crowd that turned out, that without the use of precautions, these men would have a very difficult time keeping a crowd back like that. This crowd was an enthusiastic crowd, as you know, as you probably have heard many times, and it was a bigger crowd than I expected.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Is it practical for a city the size of Dallas to use barricades or ropes along the motorcade, the length of the one that the President traveled?
Captain LAWRENCE. Well, with the length of this motorcade, I don't believe that we could have on this short a notice, and this is my opinion. We would have to go to another source to get sufficient barricades to handle it, because I don't think we have that many barricades--I don't think that many barricades would be available for a motorcade as long as this one.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Does the police department maintain barricades?
Captain LAWRENCE. No; the barricades are obtained from the public works department. We have been able to request barricades to barricade off streets at certain events on holidays and parks. We have asked for barricades and we have always received barricades.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Did you give any specific instructions to your men with respect to watching windows?
Captain LAWRENCE. No.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Did you give any specific instructions to the people who were stationed along Elm and Houston at the intersection of Elm and Houston, the man at Houston in particular, did you direct any particular attention to those men who were stationed there?
Captain LAWRENCE. No; I did not make the individual assignments, but as I said, the only thing I did was make these remarks as to these particular assignments in stating that they would be made by these officers, and, of course, there were some assignments made in this area and there were also some assignments made to the overpass.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Was there anything that would be in the general orders or the general background and training of the police officers who were stationed along this route which would make the individual police officer believe that it was his responsibility to watch the windows of buildings?
Captain LAWRENCE. I don't recall any specific instructions of that kind ever being given on an assignment of this type, because again--as I said, with the manpower that was assigned and the crowd they had to control, that the officer had all he could take care of in maintaining crowd control of the people on the streets and watching the crowd there.
I am talking about the men that were assigned for these specific assignments here. I assume that some instructions have been given to some members of the CID, the criminal investigation division, and to the men from the special service bureau, and the men specifically assigned to security duties instead of traffic duties. It would be my assumption that this was a part of the assignments given.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Would the duties of the men at the intersections be so burdensome prior to the time that the motorcade actually arrived that they couldn't keep their eyes on the windows and other places such as that? In other words, did they have anything to do of substance until shortly before the motorcade arrived?
Captain LAWRENCE. They had everything they could do to take care of the crowds when I came through there before the President's motorcade keeping the crowds back, in fact, when I was listening on channel 2 I heard Inspector Sawyer asking for more help for men downtown to try to keep the crowds back so the motorcade could get through there.
Mr. GRIFFIN. When an officer is at an intersection for the purpose of crowd control, do his problems begin as soon as the crowd begins to form, regardless of how long it is before the President is going to arrive, or does the problem only become a substantial one when he realizes the President is 5 minutes away?
Captain LAWRENCE. I think when he first goes on assignment, that's when he's prepared to handle the crowd.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Well, is there a danger that the crowd is going to move out into the street at any point as soon as it gets large enough where the people start to push and shove?
Captain LAWRENCE. This did happen in the downtown area and this was substantially before the President's car actually arrived. This is why, I believe, and I am assuming, because I was ahead of this motorcade, but I heard Chief Curry ask these motorcycle officers that were way up ahead to drop
back, and some of them that were alongside and to the rear of the President, to pull up alongside his car, and Chief Curry had some of these motorcycle officers that were supposed to be about a couple of blocks ahead of this motorcade, he asked them to drop back. He asked the lead motorcycles that were supposed to be a half block ahead of the escort--he asked them to drop back.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Well, is it fair to say that without specific instructions, that an officer would not watch the windows of buildings? He would not do it as a result of routine orders that prevail in the police department and his general training.
Captain LAWRENCE I would say in a case like this that an officer should do this and this should be part of his responsibility on the job, but I also have to say he was not given any specific instructions to do that as far as buildings were concerned, but I'm talking about the men assigned to this traffic assignment.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Are there any other specific instructions besides watching the windows of buildings that, as a result of your experience on November 22, you think should be given to police officers who have traffic assignments?
Captain LAWRENCE. As a result of what happened on November 22, I believe that where a Head of State, the President of the United States, comes to Dallas and is in a motorcade or a parade, that the streets should be barricaded or roped off and that offices---more officers than were stationed be stationed along the route to control the crowd. I mean, of course, this is looking back--as I told you before----there were more people along the route in fact, I was surprised--they had even stopped their cars all along Stemmons Freeway.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Of course, we are trying to benefit from hindsight, when I asked you if in looking back you could make some suggestions for the future.
Captain LAWRENCE That's right.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Could a police force the size of the Dallas police force have found more officers to man the route?
Captain LAWRENCE. With a route as long as this, I doubt that they could have, because some of these officers were given second and third assignments and this motorcade route, as long as it was, was in my opinion--this was too long of a motorcade route to give the proper security, and our department wasn't big enough to handle an event---of course, this is hindsight again--and an event like this with a route as long as this to cover all of the cross streets, because we certainly didn't cover all of the cross streets along the route except the downtown area. We covered some of the main ones and there were other streets that were not covered and the people themselves block the streets for the motorcade.
Mr. GRIFFIN. You have with you here a list of the assignments you made on November 22?
Captain LAWRENCE. Yes; I do.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Could you give that to us so we can mark it for identification?
Captain LAWRENCE. Yes, sir; would you mind me explaining a couple of them?
Mr. GRIFFIN. No; not at all, if you think it is necessary.
Captain LAWRENCE. There were some changes made.
Mr. GRIFFIN. I am going to mark this as Capt. W. P. Lawrence Deposition, July 24, 1964, Exhibit No. 2. Do you want to indicate what clarification you would make in the assignments that are shown on Exhibit No. 2?
Captain LAWRENCE. Yes; on the morning of November 22, the streets were still wet and it was raining that morning and I talked to Asst. Chief Batchelor about some of the motorcade assignments and he agreed with me that no car, no motorcycle officer, should pass the President's car, so we reassigned some officers indicated by asterisks on this detail to cover the Stemmons Freeway traffic lanes to the rear of the escort to prevent any vehicles from passing the presidential party, and that's shown on the detail. Also, as I say--you can see the asterisks here beside these officers and they were changed. Also, I felt that because of the curvature of Stemmons Freeway and these people coming over a crest and around a curve--that they would be on top of these motorcycle officers and would not have warning enough. I discussed placing a couple of
the three-wheel motorcycle officers up further on Stemmons Expressway which would be back farther south, so that when they saw from the top of Stemmons Expressway this motorcade approaching, they could start stopping the traffic before it came around the curve and down the hill because of the speed. For this reason, two officers were stationed--their assignment was changed and they were placed--they were stationed up on Stemmons Freeway for the purpose of starting to stop this traffic themselves.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Is there anything else on there that you think should be clarified?
Captain LAWRENCE. Yes; on the evening--I'm going back a day, but on the evening of November 21, I was handed a list of additional men from the Third Patrol Platoon to work traffic assignments. Here is the list--you can have this list.
Mr. GRIFFIN. All right.
Captain LAWRENCE. This necessitated me making some changes so that the three-wheel motorcycle officers could be taken off of corner assignments and placed on patrol assignments in the downtown area, and those assignments, or some of those patrol assignments are shown on the last page of this.
Mr. GRIFFIN. All right.
Captain LAWRENCE. The changes you can see were made in ink. There was one particular assignment, on page 3, that we had eliminated because we understood that the Highland Park Police would cover Lemmon and Loma Alto and then when these additional men were given to us, two officers were placed back on this assignment.
Mr. GRIFFIN. I have marked the additional list of 19 men, which list you received on November 22, as Capt. P. W. Lawrence, July 24, 1964, Exhibit No. 3. Let me ask you some specific questions about it--about the men who were stationed in the area of Dealey Plaza. Did you question any of these men after the President was shot to determine whether or not they had seen anyone in the windows of the Texas School Book Depository Building?
Captain LAWRENCE. Yes; however, when I questioned the men--the men had already been--one man that I questioned had already been questioned by Mr. Sorrels and this would be Officer J. E. Murphy and two other men that I questioned were Officers J. W. Foster and J. C. White. I questioned J. W. Foster regarding the men that were alongside him on the overpass, on the triple underpass where the President was to go.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Did you question Sergeant Harkness?
Captain LAWRENCE. No; I didn't question Sergeant Harkness.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Did you question Officer King--W. K. King?
Captain LAWRENCE. No.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Did you question Officer J. B. Allen?
Captain LAWRENCE. No.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Did you question Officer W. H. Denham?
Captain LAWRENCE. No.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Or Officer W. E. Barnett?
Captain LAWRENCE. No.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Officer J. M. Smith?
Captain LAWRENCE. No; I did not.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Officer E. L. Smith?
Captain LAWRENCE. No; I did not.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Do you know of anyone in the police department who questioned those men after the assassination to determine whether or not they had been observing the windows of the Texas School Book Depository Building and had seen anybody in those buildings?
Captain LAWRENCE. I know that all of these men have been questioned and that they were calling all of these men to be questioned and that this investigation was being handled by the Secret Service, and this is one reason why I did not question these men .
Mr. GRIFFIN. Have you received any information that any of these men did see anybody at the windows of the Texas School Book Depository Building, particularly on the sixth floor?
Captain LAWRENCE. I have never received any information from any of these men that they saw anybody up there.
Mr. GRIFFIN. You have answered that you did not conduct an investigation of these men and that you thought the Secret Service did; let me ask the further question--has the police department conducted an investigation of these men who were at the intersections of Main and Houston and Elm and Houston?
Captain LAWRENCE. To my knowledge, they were--there was an investigation requested.
Mr. GRIFFIN. By the police department?
Captain LAWRENCE. By the police department--that reports were requested from these men, by the supervisory officers, but--and by the inspectors and the deputy chiefs--but I was not given any such assignment.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Let me turn to the movement of Lee Harvey Oswald and ask you when did you first receive instructions as to the moving of Lee Harvey Oswald to the county jail?
Captain LAWRENCE. I received no original instructions on the movement of Lee Harvey Oswald. I was scheduled to be off on Saturday and Sunday. These were my days off. On Saturday at approximately 10 a.m., I came down in civilian clothes and I observed a large crowd of people around the county courthouse and I had knowledge from what I had heard on television and I had seen on television and heard on the radio that charges had already been filed against Lee Harvey Oswald, so it was my assumption that he would be transferred to the county jail, but I had no knowledge of it; and seeing this large crowd gathering down at this part of town, I immediately called the traffic office and started trying to contact Sergeant Harkness and finally got him down there and told him to get some other traffic officers down there and I remained down at this location until approximately 6:30 p.m. when Captain Thompson came on duty. While down there and during the afternoon, I noticed there was a large crowd gathered and there seemed to be a need for barricades or ropes or something to keep these people behind these ropes and across the street from the county jail, and I called Chief Batchelor's office, and Officer Art Hammett answered the phone and I told Art Hammett there was a large crowd down there, and this was early in the afternoon--I would say about 2 or 3 o'clock in the afternoon on Saturday--and there was a large crowd there and I believe that ropes or barricades were necessary to keep these people out of the streets and across the street at Dealey Plaza, and Hammett said he would try to get in touch with Chief Batchelor and let me know.
On Saturday afternoon I got a call on the radio, and, of course, it was a three-wheel motorcycle with the radio going, and Officer Hammett asked me and I am assuming he was in the dispatcher's office at the time, and he asked me if the ropes that I requested were to block off the street for motor vehicle traffic and I told him it was not, and he said, "Well, permission is granted." Then, we borrowed some rope from the sheriff's office and we roped off this block across the street from the county jail. We also got some barricades from Elm and Houston where a--where part of the street had been blocked off there anyway, and we blocked off the sidewalks on the county jail side at Houston and Elm Street, and Main Street, and the only persons we allowed in this area were television, radio, and news media people.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Did you take any further precautions on Sunday?
Captain LAWRENCE. Yes. By the way, when Captain Thompson came on, I contacted him by radio and asked him to meet me down there and he relieved me and our solo motorcycle detail was placed down there in the evening. When I got home I called Chief Lunday at home and I told him--that's when I heard that the transfer was supposed to be made the following morning, that there would be a need for some more men down there and that I would be down there and I would get as many men as I could on the location. So on Sunday morning I arrived down there and I'm going to guess at the time as approximately 8 a.m. I first went by the office and I picked up some police reserves in my car and took about four of them down there with me, and then I had some motorcycle officers that were not already stationed--upstairs on
the third floor--and I had them meet me down there too. It was still roped off and the crowds started gathering and I personally instructed Sergeant Steigel to go down there and Sergeant Bellah, and most of the men down there, I personally instructed them that when Oswald was brought in down there, that they were not to look at Oswald, that they were to face the crowd and they were not to worry about anything but keeping their eyes on that crowd, because I estimated there were approximately 500 people down there at that time, and these officers were specifically instructed on that. And when Chief Lunday showed up at approximately--sometime between 9:30 and 10, he showed up--he arrived in civilian clothes--he saw that there was a large crowd there too and we were concerned about the security of Oswald, and I expressed this opinion to Chief Lunday and Lieutenant Southard also. There with me at the time too was Captain Solomon, who also showed up down there. The only time that I knew that anything had happened was when Sheriff Bill Decker came out of his office and came by the cameras there where the vehicle was supposed to enter the county jail entrance there, and he waved for me to come over to him. I was across the street at that time and he told me that Oswald had been shot in the basement of the city hall. So, after this was confirmed, we then sent some more men to Parkland Hospital to seal it off.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Did you have anything to do with the stationing of men along the route that it was expected that Oswald was to follow?
Captain LAWRENCE. No; I didn't.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Did you ever receive any specific instructions from any of your superiors on stationing your men around Dealey Plaza or the county jail or did the precautions that you took--were they undertaken on your own initiative?
Captain LAWRENCE. I would say that I notified Chief Lunday of the situation down there and then he told me to go ahead and station these men there.
Mr. GRIFFIN. But there never was any independent effort made by your superior officers to contact you prior to the move and say, "Captain Lawrence, we are going to move Oswald at such and such a time, or in such and such a way, and take such and such precautions"?
Captain LAWRENCE. No; I believe though that Chief Lunday was in communication with headquarters because he went immediately after he talked to Lieutenant Southard and I and saw this crowd too, he immediately went inside the sheriff's office and it is my assumption that he had communication with them because he came out a little later and told me about the plans--how Oswald was to be brought down and that he would not be brought down in the armored truck, but that the armored truck would come Elm Street and would make a left turn off of Elm, and when it did this car with the detectives in it would come first and the car with Oswald would turn into the ramp there at the county jail and they would lower the gates immediately. At that time Chief Lunday was in charge down there.
Mr. GRIFFIN. How long were you informed of this plan to bring Oswald in a police car; how long before you actually knew Oswald was shot did you learn about that plan?
Captain LAWRENCE. I would say approximately 10 minutes--I'm just guessing--I know it was just shortly after that that I heard he was shot.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Were you ever informed that the armored car had arrived at the police station?
Captain LAWRENCE. No; I had no knowledge of an armored car until Chief Lunday told me about it and at the same time he was telling me about it a sergeant arrived down there from the radio patrol and was giving Chief Lunday some information to the same effect, that the armored car was going to be used as a decoy.
Mr. GRIFFIN. But maybe I didn't make my question clear--was any information ever passed on to the people at the county jail that the decoy car had arrived in the city basement?
Captain LAWRENCE. Not to my knowledge. I was outside all the time.
Mr. GRIFFIN. I think we have pretty well covered everything here. I'm going to ask you if you will sign Exhibit No. 1 and also Exhibits Nos. 2 and 3.
Captain LAWRENCE. This man did not show up and he was given some other assignment.
Mr. GRIFFIN. That is the No. 3 man there on that list?
Captain LAWRENCE. Yes; he was given some other assignment.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Let me mark one more paper here--this is a copy of a letter that you wrote.
Captain LAWRENCE. That's a copy of a letter that I wrote that you probably have in the file there.
Mr. GRIFFIN. This is a letter you wrote to Chief Curry on July 15 detailing what you did on November 22, and I am going to mark it Capt. P. W. Lawrence Deposition, July 24, 1964, Exhibit No. 4, and I will ask you if you will sign that up at the top also. Do you have anything else, captain, you would like to add?
Captain LAWRENCE. Oh, I guess this probably has been mentioned to you before--there are some people that were down there--Captain Solomon and I discussed the fact that we were rather shocked at the crowd that was down there when they announced that Oswald--when they heard that Oswald had been shot--about them cheering, but this was an actual fact, and I thought it was a terrible thing myself, it broke me up too, this killing of the President, but as I said, this was a real shock that these people cheered like this. This just showed the attitude of some of them that were down there. I can't think of anything else.
Mr. GRIFFIN. I want to thank you for coming here and taking this time. All of the members of your department who have been here have really given very generously of their time and cooperated and we are all very appreciative of it.
Captain LAWRENCE. I did learn of some new security measures from this unfortunate experience. I refer to the manner in which the Secret Service handled the transfer of President Johnson and his party from Parkland Hospital, the plans for this transfer in unmarked cars, the solo escorts and positioning of the vehicles en route to Love Field. First, the Secret Service personnel made arrangements for three unmarked cars to be placed in a "ready" position at the rear of Parkland without the knowledge of the news media or other persons. Three cars were so arranged. The first car was Chief Curry's unmarked car, the second car was my unmarked car, and the third car was Inspector Putnam's unmarked car. I was instructed to have two solo officers ready to go but not to give them their destination until we started to leave--these instructions were from the Secret Service. When President Johnson came out of the hospital with his party he was immediately taken to Chief Curry's lead vehicle. Other White House and Secret Service personnel got in my car, as they did in Inspector Putnam's car. I instructed the solo officers to escort us to Love Field. As we left Parkland Hospital the solo officers started using their sirens and shortly thereafter Chief Curry came on the police radio and requested them to cut the sirens off. Chief Curry repeated these instructions about three or four times and after several blocks the officers cut off their sirens. One of the Secret Service men in my vehicle instructed me as to how to position my vehicle to the rear of Chief Curry's car and I also noticed in the rear view mirror that Inspector Putnam's vehicle was positioned in such a way that it would be difficult for any other car to overtake this escort. After the solo motorcycle officers cut off their sirens they went ahead and stopped traffic at various intersections so that it was not necessary for any of the cars in President Johnson's party to stop. I was quite impressed with the quick efficient planning of the Secret Service in getting the President and his party safely to the airport and the security precautions taken while en route to Love Field. You know--this thing--something like this, this just really hits you. You are so busy you don't know it, but it just finally really hits you down deep.
Mr. GRIFFIN. There's not very much I guess really that can be said--it's one of these events that is so shocking in our lifetime.
Captain LAWRENCE. Too--Chief Curry was really torn up about it--out at Parkland Hospital he held himself real good--I guess we all were.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Yes; we all were. Thank you very much for coming.
Captain LAWRENCE. Thank you.