The retirement of P.H. Cooper in May of 1909 led to the appointment of Fred J. Rickard as Lincoln's newest chief of police. It was no surprise that Rickard acquired the position as rumors suggested the appointing board strongly favored him over other candidates. Rickard's first day as chief was June 1, 1909.
Rickard, a former detective, was large in stature and unafraid of controversy. This was validated during an episode in early 1909 when Rickard arrested the son of a prominent Lincoln citizen for breaking windows at a local school building. The father filed a complaint against Rickard for arresting his son "unwarrantably." A local newspaper caught drift of the story and stated that "[a]dmirers of each of these burly men declare them issesistible forces. Therefore, when they clash, as everybody confidently anticipates, the sparks will fly in sulphurous clouds." Though the confrontation did not result in bodily harm to either party, it did, however, influence the public's perception of Lincoln's twelfth police chief.
During Rickard's tenure as chief, several changes were made within the department including that patrolmen must be at least six feet tall, and roll call being transferred upstairs. Rickard was also adamant of ridding the city of hoboes, wanderers, vagrants and uncleanliness. One way in which he intended to do so was by dumping several loads of large rocks in Market square giving prisoners, convicted vagrants and suspicious characters plenty of "exercise." He also issued orders that alleys in the city were to be kept clean, and those who neglected to do so would find themselves in police court. There was no denying that Chief Rickard enforced the law to ensure Lincoln become a reputable city.
Less than five months after being appointed chief, the excise board accepted the resignation of Chief Rickard on October 15, 1909. The reason for the resignation is unclear and was not made available to the public. Rickard did, however, accept a position as a plain clothes officer for the police department at the time of his resignation.
Obituary - The Lincoln Star - September 5, 1946
RICKARD, FRED J. - Fred J. Rickard, 79, died at a local nursing home Thursday morning. Surviving are a daughter, Alyce Meehan, of Lincoln, a brother Lyman Rickard, Waterloo, Ia., eight grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. Friday at Uberger's chapel. Rev. J. Edwin Jarboe officiating. Burial in Havelock cemetery. The police department will furnish a motorcycle escort and pallbearers. The family requests no flowers.