Gangsters, police collide in a compelling new Dayton history book

Dayton Police Chief Rudy Wurstner poses in 1930 with the “Bank Flyer,” a customized Cadillac with impenetrable tires, bullet-proof glass, a reinforced bumper and radiator shield and special racks to hold automatic weapons. DAYTON POLICE HISTORY FOUNDATION

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Dayton Police Chief Rudy Wurstner poses in 1930 with the “Bank Flyer,” a customized Cadillac with impenetrable tires, bullet-proof glass, a reinforced bumper and radiator shield and special racks to hold automatic weapons. DAYTON POLICE HISTORY FOUNDATION

A notorious gangster’s love life, Prohibition, bank heists and cutting-edge police work all play out in a new Dayton history book.

Stephen C. Grismer, a retired Dayton police officer, has written “The Dean, Dillinger, and Dayton, Ohio: Legend, Lore, Legacy.”

Grismer, a historian and board member with the Dayton Police History Foundation, estimates he has spent a decade researching the book that spans 80 years and takes readers through the Temperance movement, Prohibition and the Great Depression.

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Stephen C. Grismer, a retired Dayton police officer, has written “The Dean, Dillinger, and Dayton, Ohio: Legend, Lore, Legacy.”

Stephen C. Grismer, a retired Dayton police officer, has written “The Dean, Dillinger, and Dayton, Ohio: Legend, Lore, Legacy.”

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Stephen C. Grismer, a retired Dayton police officer, has written “The Dean, Dillinger, and Dayton, Ohio: Legend, Lore, Legacy.”

The book retells the many gangster visits to Dayton and the crimes that were committed by those gangsters.

Among the stories are John Dillinger’s love affair with a Dayton woman and his capture during a tryst at her boarding house, as well as the time flashy Chicago hooligan, George “Bugs” Moran, rolled into town and took part in the kidnapping and robbery of a Moraine tavern keeper.

ExploreStep into Dayton’s colorful history of gangsters, illegal liquor and law men

“I think a lot of people will be surprised at the number of notorious gangsters and robbers that traveled in and out of Dayton,” Grismer said.

The book details the evolution of police work in the Gem City, starting in the 1860s when an officer had only a nightstick at his side.

Rudolph Wurstner, a 21-year-old patrolman who came on the scene in 1902, eventually became police chief, ushering in a new era of professionalism to the department.

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Sept. 22, 1933 Dayton arrest photo of John Dillinger. DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE

Sept. 22, 1933 Dayton arrest photo of John Dillinger. DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE

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Sept. 22, 1933 Dayton arrest photo of John Dillinger. DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE

To combat crime during the Prohibition era, Wurstner added modern weaponry, bullet-proof steel shields, and in 1930 an armored car called the “Bank Flyer,” a customized Cadillac with impenetrable tires, bullet-proof glass, and special racks to hold automatic weapons.

His forward-thinking ideas paid off when a tip came in that Dillinger was in the boarding house with his lover. Automobiles recently outfitted with one-way radios — the latest in technology — were swiftly dispatched and he was arrested.

ExploreGangster John Dillinger wrote a breakup letter to his Dayton sweetheart from the Lima jail

Wurstner was police chief for 10 years when he became the most senior metropolitan police chief in the nation, earning him the title, “The Nation’s Dean of Police Chiefs.”

Filled with historic photos of police officers, criminals and newspaper front pages, the book is a companion piece to “Bootleggers, Bandits, and Badges: From Dry Times to Hard Times in Dayton, Ohio,” an exhibit at Carillon Historical Park on display through 2021.

The book costs $29.95 and is available at the Carillon Historical Park gift shop, 1000 Carillon Blvd. and on Amazon.

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