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 Walter Kreps, Policeman

Walter Kreps

Tuesday, March 28, 1916

Kreps, Walter

Rank: Policeman

Serial Number: Unknown

Division: Unknown

Location: Unknown

Date Killed: Tuesday, March 28, 1916

Cause of Death: Motorcycle Traffic Accident


Firefighters and police officers have always shared a common bond,
defined by their public calling. Walter R. Kreps
answered both calls, serving first as a hose man for the Los
Angeles Fire Department, before joining the LAPD in 1910.

Kreps was born in Michigan, on August 29, 1887. By 1910, he had
been married to his wife Fanchon, for about two years. The couple
had a son Kenneth, who was a few months old. The family lived at
2190 West 28th Street. The Kreps family later moved to 235 ½ Hill
Street and lived there when Walter joined the police department on
December 27, 1910.

By March of 1916, Kreps had left the patrol foot beats and joined
the speed squad, working as a motor officer. The speed squad was
comprised of motor officers on Indian motorcycles who zipped
through traffic, chasing down scofflaws running afoul of the strict
traffic ordinances. As a member of the speed squad, Kreps wore a
tweed riding hat and coat along with leather riding gloves and
boots. Members of the speed squad would also serve as quick
response units rolling to calls for service in outlying areas of
the city.

Kreps was assigned to the old East Side station, which was located
where the old Lincoln Heights Jail is today on Avenue 19th. On
March 28th, 1916, Kreps was leaving the station responding to a
call in Highland Park, which was then largely rural farmland. As
Kreps rode south onto Avenue 20, where various railroad lines
converged, a police vehicle (or machine as they were called then)
was attempting to pass a slower moving in the same vicinity. The
police machine, driven by police chauffer, Arthur Boycott, was
returning to East Side station from a radio call.

When Boycott passed on the right of a slower moving vehicle, he
collided with Kreps' motorcycle which was travelling southbound on
Avenue 20 near the railroad tracks. This was some forty years
before motorcycle helmet use came into being. As a result, Kreps
suffered major injuries including a fractured skull and hip along
with a serious laceration to his face. He was quickly taken to
Receiving Hospital on First and Spring Streets where police
surgeons worked feverishly to save his life. Kreps succumbed to his
injuries and became the first motor officer to be killed in the
line of duty. He was also the first LAPD officer to die in a
traffic collision involving another police vehicle.

He was survived by his 29-year-old wife Fanchon and six-year-old
son Kenneth.

Lieutenant J. A. Macias, #27710, LAPD

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