Flashback: Did you know one of the biggest prohibition bootleggers wore a Seattle police badge?

SEATTLE METROPOLITAN POLICE MUSEUM -- From television in the 1960's to the big screen in 1987, federal agent Elliot Ness and his team of ‘Untouchables’ have been portrayed as an infamous part of U.S. history for taking on gangster Al Capone and Chicago's violent bootlegging business. Most everyone knows that part of prohibition, but what many may not know is the  criminal who feds called the "West Coast Al Capone" -- wore a Seattle police badge. Officer Jim Ritter with the Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum has more on this ‘Flashback.’

"For those of you who enjoy drinking alcohol now and then, you probably don't give much thought to the fact that for 17 years in Washington State, that form of relaxation could have landed you in jail.” “From 1916 to 1933 Washington State prohibition required local police to enforce laws that outlawed the manufacturing, possession and consumption of intoxicants. The new laws required lawmen to destroy illegal stills used to manufacture such spirits and to arrest those who patronized Speakeasies where alcohol was sold.” “As the illicit booze trade flourished, many dangerous criminals emerged, including some citizens and police officers that turned to a life of crime by the lure of easy money. A great example of easy money is a still that was owned by a King County deputy sheriff who lived out in the Covington area. More than likely, the still was placed out in the woods and hidden upon police arrival.” "I think one of the police museum`s most interesting artifacts is an alcohol bottle manufactured during prohibition with the name 'Gill and Gill' on the front. It just so happens that Seattle`s mayor back in the era was named Hiram Gill. I really wonder if there was any connection.” “During the prohibition era, many criminals used weapons of all kinds to protect their trade like a sawed-off double-barreled shotgun which criminals used to conceal under their coats. The most famous weapon during the prohibition era was a Thompson sub-machine gun, a .45 caliber fully-automatic weapon used by criminals to battle police and the police to battle criminals.” “One of the most infamous bootleggers in the United States was one of Seattle`s finest. Police Lieutenant Roy Olmstead was often called the 'West Coast Al Capone.’ He was arrested by federal agents in the 1920`s and convicted under the nation`s first case ever using secret wiretaps, otherwise known as the case of the `Whispering Wires.'" "And that`s the way it was. I`m Officer Jim Ritter and this is `Flashback.’" If you have questions about law enforcement history, email Ofc. Ritter at smpmuseum@aol.com To find out more about the museum, go to seametropolicemuseum.org