End of Watch: The Death of Pensacola Police Detective Archie Schmitz, May 7, 1940

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From the book, “Some Gave All,” coming soon on Amazon

Andrew Schmitz was born to Nicholas and Louisa Schmitz on May 10, 1880 in New Orleans. However, the 1900 Federal Census showed that he lived in Pensacola with his family, and he worked with the “police/fire.” During his long and distinguished career, Andrew worked on some of the biggest and most notable cases in Pensacola’s history.

On May 7, 1940, the sixty-year-old officer had a lot of experience. After having been on the streets for forty years, there wasn’t much the old veteran hadn’t seen.

Palafox Street, courtesy of Frank Hardy Studio https://frankhardymademyphotographstwo.com/

Archie felt good that day. He was in good spirits and felt great! On this occasion, he and young E. L. Madsen were riding in their patrol car together. Schmitz was – as always – in plain clothes. Just after noon, the men received a call about a man who was unruly. Schmitz could usually find the words to say that would calm the situation, so they responded, hoping not to have to make an arrest. It was not to be.

            When they arrived, both officers tried to talk to the disorderly man. After attempting the more civilized approach without success, the man was placed under arrest, and that is when the fight started. Eventually, however, the two lawmen got the upper hand, gained control of the prisoner, and took him to jail. It was at this time that Archie began feeling bad. He became exhausted from the fight. Before long, Archie Schmitz collapsed. He was checked by Dr. Charles Born, who sent him home. But he later got worse and had to go to the hospital. He died that evening[1]. It was the end of an era. None of the officers had been there longer than Archie. No one remembered the place without him. Many were not even born when he started. He was an icon. A legend had died, and the police department would never be the same.

Sacred Heart Hospital

Survivors include his wife, Mrs. Marie Schmitz, two brothers, and seven sisters. Funeral services were held two days later at his home at 1750 West Government Street and were attended by throngs of people. As was the custom, the service continued at Christ Episcopal Church later in the afternoon and concluded with the burial at historic St. Michael’s Cemetery.

Rest in Peace, Officer Schmitz.


[1] May 8, 1940 edition of the Pensacola News Journal, page 1. Accessed 05102022. https://www.newspapers.com/image/352877122/?terms=%22Andrew%20Schmitz%22&match=1

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