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Old Chester, PA: Biographical Sketches

Captain Theodore F. Laws, Sr.


Theodore F. Laws

Captain Theodore F. Laws, Sr.

(A biographical sketch from the Delaware County Daily Times, March 30, 1994, contributed by his son, Teddy Laws, Jr.

Born in Selbyville, DE on Dec. 8, 1911 he moved to Chester as a young man in his early twenties. He worked in the City garage for 10 years before being appointed a patrolman in the police department on Feb. 15, 1945. He was promoted to detective on January 1, 1949. Subsequently, he became the first African-American Sergeant in the history of the police department in 1962. 

At that time, he was honored at a banquet sponsored by the Eight Ward Republican Club when the late President Judge Henry G. Sweeney of Delaware County was the speaker. Also, during the testimonial, a Daily Times editorial proclaimed that Sgt. Laws earned his promotion for, as spelled out in the citation, two full decades of 'exemplary conduct as a guardian of the peace.' The editorial also stated that "by the dignity of his day-to-day conduct in his own line of work, he has steadily achieved more for his own race and for the cause of humanity among all men, than many a skilled speechmaker." 

In 1963, he was promoted to Police Captain and was, again, the first black person to be advanced to that rank and to command a platoon of police officers. He continued to serve in that capacity until his retirement in 1968 after having served the department for 27 years.

In 1969 he continued his trailblazing efforts by becoming the first African-American Correctional Officer at Broadmeadows Prison in Thornbury. Later, he also worked as a tipstaff in the Delaware County Courthouse in Media and was employed in the security department at the former Westinghouse Electric Corp. plant in Tinicum. 

While he was working as a detective, he became a specialist in narcotics investigation. State and federal agencies frequently called upon him for assistance. In 1961, He was credited with cracking a major drug ring after he gathered information for four months on the ring's operation. He was cited for his work by the US Treasury Department's Bureau of Narcotics. It was during this time that he harvested a career-long relationship with Agent James McClung. 

I recently remembered in conversations with him and another motorcycle enthusiast that he was the one who trained the city policeman how to ride the motorcycles during the time he was employed at the city garage. He often talked about the "Indian" motorcycles as the preferred brand. I do not know why, however. This may have been the time when he became interested in law enforcement

Capt. (Ret.) Laws passed away on March 27, 1994.


(A biographical sketch from a Chester Times or Delaware County Daily Times newspaper clipping, "Know Your Police" from the collection of John C. "Snakes" Boyle, contributed by his granddaughters, Jane Boyle & Patty Boyle.)

Weighing in at over 300 pounds and standing over six feet tall, Theodore F. Laws, is probably one of the biggest law enforcement officers in this area.

Laws, appointed to the police force on Feb. 15, 1945, was promoted to detective on Jan. 1, 1949.

He's married to the former Lois Pyles and they have one son, Theodore F. Jr., 9. They live at 909 W. 3rd st.

Prior to his appointment to the police force, Laws, who is 42 years old, worked in the city garage from 1939 until his appointment.

Educated in the public schools of Chester, he lists baseball and sports in general as his hobbies.

 

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If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about individuals in Chester, please forward it to john@oldchesterpa.com


2002, 2003 John A. Bullock III.

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This page last updated 10/17/05