Wilbert T. Hanley, 90, state police commander

September 15, 2004|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Wilbert T. Hanley, a retired state police commander who helped establish its aviation division and held other positions during a 35-year career, died of Alzheimer's disease Monday at Franklin Square Hospital Center. The Perry Hall resident was 90.

Mr. Hanley was born in Baltimore and raised near the Cross Street Market. He attended city schools and served during the 1930s on the old Baltimore Park Police Department.

Appointed to the state police in 1941, Mr. Hanley spent his early years assigned to the Randallstown barracks and on motorcycle patrol.

During World War II, he enlisted in the Army and saw combat in the Pacific. He participated in the invasions of the Bismarck Archipelago, Northern Solomons and New Guinea.

From 1947 to 1951, he was assigned as a driver and aide to Gov. William Preston Lane and also held positions in the newly formed Teletype unit and in the investigation and identification division -- where he was later the commander.

He was a graduate of Northwestern University's Traffic Institute, Harvard University's homicide investigation school, the University of Maryland Law Enforcement Institute and, during the 1960s, a civil disturbance school at Fort Gordon, Ga.

Mr. Hanley was commander of the Bel Air barracks from 1956 to 1968. He established the tactical unit and headed the team that wrote and produced the state police civil disturbance manual.

"He helped establish the aviation division of the state police and worked with Dr. R Adams Cowley, founder of the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, to institute a medevac unit that transported accident victims to Shock Trauma," said his son, T. Bruce Hanley, a Towson attorney.

Mr. Hanley was named the state police chief of operations in 1974 and promoted to lieutenant colonel and was commander of the services bureau -- in charge of facilities and equipment -- at his retirement in 1976.

He was a volunteer at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.

In addition to his son, Mr. Hanley is survived by his wife of 27 years, the former Margaret Weitzel, and four grandchildren. His marriage to the former Olive Mae Aaronson ended in divorce.

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