TESTIMONY OF JAMES PUTNAM
The testimony of James Putnam was taken at 11 a.m., on April 9, 1964, in the office of the U.S. attorney, 301 Post Office Building, Bryan and Ervay Streets, Dallas, Tex., by Mr. John Hart Ely, member of the staff of the President's Commission.
Mr. ELY. Would you stand up and be sworn, please?
Mr. PUTNAM. All right.
Mr. ELY. 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?
Mr. PUTNAM. I do.
Mr. ELY. Would you state your name, please?
Mr. PUTNAM. James Putnam.
Mr. ELY. And where do you live?
Mr. PUTNAM. 2015 Joan Drive.
Mr. ELY. What is your occupation?
Mr. PUTNAM. Police officer--sergeant of police.
Mr. ELY. How long have you been with the Dallas Police Department?
Mr. PUTNAM. Ten years and four months.
Mr. ELY. Could you give us something of your background before you started
to work for the police department--where you went to school and what you did before you became a policeman?
Mr. PUTNAM. Is this pertinent?
Mr. ELY. Where did you go to school?
Mr. PUTNAM. Is this pertinent to the deposition? Well, if you want it, I will give it to you. I went to school at Charleston, S.C. and I was in the Navy for about 7 years.
Mr. ELY. And did you go directly from the Navy to the police department?
Mr. PUTNAM. No; from the Navy I went to work for Lone Star Gas Co. here in Dallas. From there I went to work for Prudential Insurance Co. from which I was recalled into the Navy again, and when I was released, I went back to the insurance company, and from there I applied for employment with the Dallas Police Department.
Mr. ELY. Thank you, sergeant. Now, on November 22, 1963, were you on duty with the police department?
Mr. PUTNAM. Yes, sir.
Mr. ELY. Did your duties on that day involve you in any way in the investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy?
Mr. PUTNAM. Yes.
Mr. ELY. What was the nature of your involvement with that investigation?
Mr. PUTNAM. Just to assist in covering of the Book Depository Building and aiding in searching the building.
Mr. ELY. Did your duties involve you in any way in the investigation of the shooting of Officer Tippit?
Mr. PUTNAM. No.
Mr. ELY. Could you state the nature of your specialty with the police department? What sort of work do you specialize in?
Mr. PUTNAM. My assignment then and now is sergeant of police, supervising patrolmen in the radio patrol division.
(Instrument marked by the reporter as "Putnam Exhibit No. 1," for identification.)
Mr. ELY. Sergeant, I will show you first a map which is designated Putnam Deposition Exhibit No. 1, and I will also show you two documents designated Sawyer Exhibits A and B, which purport to be transcripts of radio logs from the 22d of November. Now, although you would have no personal knowledge of where Officer Tippit was assigned that day, assume for purposes of my questioning that his original assignment on the 22d of November was within the area marked 78 on Putnam Exhibit 1. Can you tell me within which district the corner of Lancaster and Eighth Street is?
Mr. PUTNAM. District 109.
Mr. ELY. And is it correct that here on the exhibit marked Sawyer Deposition Exhibit A there is a call recorded at 12:54 p.m., from 78 to 531 reporting he was at Lancaster and 8th?
Mr. PUTNAM. Yes; there is.
Mr. ELY. Now, assuming that Officer Tippit was originally assigned to the district numbered 78, taking into account the report that at 12:54 he was within the district marked 109, and also assuming that he later was shot within the district marked 91, would you look at these radio logs and tell us if you find on either one of them any calls which would account for the fact that he had thus come in toward the center of town from the district he was originally assigned to? Feel free to draw upon your general knowledge of the custom in the Dallas Police Department for leaving, or remaining in, one's assigned district.
Mr. PUTNAM. One transmission here on channel 1, that would be the normal channel that Tippit would be listening to, at 12:43 p.m. on Sawyer's Deposition Exhibit B, is to the attention of all squads in the downtown area, code 3 to Elm and Houston, and with Officer Tippit being assigned to district 78 and allowed the discretion that is allowed in the Dallas Police Department--he would start in the direction of the downtown area. A feasible route would bring him to district 109 and that vicinity.
Mr. ELY. Is there any special reason why that would be a feasible route?
Mr. PUTNAM. This Houston Street, if you will notice right in this corner--
Houston Street adjoins district 109. It is one of the routes you can use to cross the river into the downtown area. This would be the normal procedure as far as Officer Tippit was concerned, to come in toward the downtown area, unless disregarded and a later transmission on channel 2, after getting his location, advised him to remain at large in the Oak Cliff area. "At large," would indicate that he would feel free to go nearer in the Oak Cliff area, with the idea in mind that he would be looking for any suspect or any suspicious circumstance that might be related to the shooting.
Mr. ELY. Are districts 78, 109, and 91 all located within the Oak Cliff area?
Mr. PUTNAM. They are located in the Oak Cliff area.
Mr. ELY. All right, thank you, Sergeant Putnam, I believe that's all.