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Detective Who Escorted Oswald At DPD Honored By Department

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Former Dallas Police Department detective James R. Leavelle is honored by Chief David Brown with the Police Commendation Award at the ceremony that also renamed the detective of the year award, the James Leavelle Detective of the Year Award. (credit: KRLD)

Former Dallas Police Department detective James R. Leavelle is honored by Chief David Brown with the Police Commendation Award at the ceremony that also renamed the detective of the year award, the James Leavelle Detective of the Year Award. (credit: KRLD)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – From this point forward, the Dallas Police Department’s detective of the year award will be referred to differently. During a ceremony Tuesday police Chief David Brown announced, “The detective of the year award will be named the James Leavelle Detective of the Year Award.”

James R. Leavelle is one of the most well known faces of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination and he is still a respected retired Dallas police officer. Tuesday the department honored the retired detective with the Police Commendation Award and renamed the annual detective award in his honor.

Now 92-years-old Leavelle said he was humbled by the decision. “I can think of many other officers that should have had this award, J.D. Tippit for one and many others,” he told those gathered at DPD headquarters.

Leavelle, who was with the department for 25 years, is best known for the historical photograph that showed his shock as Jack Ruby gunned down Lee Harvey Oswald in basement of police headquarters in 1963. In the photo, Leavelle was the man shackled to Oswald, wearing the 10-gallon hat.

Leavelle said he is still proud of the police department and proud of the work he did there, as a detective. Now his hope is that police officers take up law enforcement for the right reasons.

“Occasionally I would hear an officer say, ‘Well, I was looking for a job when I found this one.’ And to me that officer didn’t really belong on [sic] the department because he doesn’t have the interest of the department in his heart,” he said earnestly. ““I was not looking for a job when I went to work here — I had one. In fact, I took a pretty good monthly cut to go to work here. When I went to work I dedicated all of my being to doing police work.”

As he accepted recognition with the ward naming Leavelle said he couldn’t believe 50 years have passed since the assassination of Kennedy, murder of Officer Tippit and killing of Oswald.

A little known fact about James Leavelle is that he was part of two American historical events. Not only was he shackled to Oswald, but 22 years before was on the deck of a ship at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed.

During a December 2012 interview with CBS 11 News Leavelle said, “The only thing I was thinking about was getting my gun ready, but I never used it.”

James Leavelle joined DPD in 1950 and retired in 1975.  The picture showing him as Oswald was murdered became a Pulitzer Prize winning photograph.

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