Paul J. Randall, 86, trooper for 41 years, began state police career on horseback

October 23, 1997|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Retired Lt. Col. Paul J. Randall, the last of the state troopers who began their careers on horseback, died of a cerebral hemorrhage Tuesday at William Hill Health Care Center in Easton. He was 86 and lived in Easton.

Mr. Randall retired as deputy superintendent of the state police in 1974, ending a 41-year career.

Born and raised in Washington, he was a graduate of public and parochial schools. After working as a journeyman printer for the Washington Star, he was appointed to the state police June 6, 1933.

After three weeks of training at the 110th Field Artillery Regiment in Pikesville, he was assigned a horse, Tom, and was ordered to report to Substation I in Easton.

"He rode his horse all the way from Pikesville and onto the Claiborne Ferry and then to Easton," said his daughter, Margaret Stohner of Washington.

As part of his duties in Easton, he "traveled the back roads patrolling from farm to farm. He rode through the backwoods showing the flag," said retired Col. Thomas S. Smith, a former state police superintendent and a friend since 1940.

Married or single, troopers were required to live at the station and were given two days off a month. Because they covered Kent, Queen Anne's, Caroline and Talbot counties on horseback, they were often away from the station for two or more weeks at a time and had to lodge at farms.

"Salary was $100 a month, but since this was the Depression era, it was reduced to $89 a month," Mr. Randall wrote in a 1988 memoir.

"The Horseman was assigned to patrol areas not practical for dTC motorcycles, as almost all secondary roads were either sand, dirt or oyster shell.

"Camp meetings were prominent in most counties, on occasion attracting several thousand people. They were religious and orderly groups. However, on occasion, trouble would erupt requiring police action and the Horseman usually covered these assignments."

By 1937, the stations were equipped with statewide radio communications, and the horses were phased out by 1938.

Although he adapted to the other changes that modernized the police agency, Mr. Randall resisted one, the helicopter fleet.

"If we had to fly to Princess Anne from Pikesville, for instance, we'd see him racing along below in his Oldsmobile, trying to get there first," Mr. Smith recalled, laughing.

After being promoted to motorcycle officer, Mr. Randall was briefly assigned to Frederick, then was ordered back to the Easton barracks.

In 1940, he was put in charge of the barracks, and the next year he was promoted to sergeant and named acting troop commander for the Eastern Shore. He became commander of Troop D, with the rank of captain, in 1949.

Beginning in 1955, he was adjutant at state police headquarters in Pikesville. He returned to commanding Troop D in 1959.

In the 1960s, he was sent to Cambridge to restore order during riots.

"I thought he did a great job. He worked with the local authorities and the black leadership and saw to it that the lid was kept on and peace was maintained," Mr. Smith said.

In 1968, Mr. Randall was promoted to major and was named chief of field forces. In 1970, he was appointed deputy superintendent and chief of the Services Bureau.

Mr. Randall, who was known as "Mr. State Policeman," received many honors during his career and was a member of numerous professional police organizations.

"In reflection, his life and career are representative of the history, tradition and respect that the reputation of the state police rests on," said state police Capt. Dallas Pope, assistant commander of the bureau of drugs and criminal enforcement.

"He set the standards, and everyone followed," Captain Pope said.

A Mass of Christian burial for Mr. Randall will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow at SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church, 213 Goldsborough St. in Easton.

His wife, the former Mary Himelright, whom he married in 1941, died in 1984. In addition to his daughter, survivors include two granddaughters.

Pub Date: 10/23/97

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