Another Lynch enters Police Work
The tradition of police service in Kent County, which began with Michael B. Lynch in 1878, continued for one hundred years until the retirement of his grandson, Michael W. Lynch, in 1978. When the younger Lynch joined the Warwick Police Department in 1947, Albert Ruerat was in his final term as mayor and the city was in a period of phenomenal growth accompanied by both positive and negative factors.
Led by William A. Grube, Warwick's businessmen started a local Chamber of Commerce, using Gan's Hall in Apponaug as a meeting place. Road repairs and construction, both neglected during the war years, now became more necessary as automobiles began to come out of their wartime hibernation.
Because of its sprawling nature, many small-town characteristics prevailed and as Warwick struggled to become a modern city it found some areas reluctant to make changes. The Warwick Zoning Board of Review found it was busier than ever as requests for changes and protests against change came in rapid-fire succession. It was a period of rapid inflation as unprecedented rises in prices wreaked havoc with the city's economy and budget.
Amid all the growing pains and serious problems, there were some light moments. A little before Mike Lynch joined the force, there was a wonderful time enjoyed by over five hundred people when Warwick held its first full-scale block dance at Oakland Beach. Not long after, Buttonwoods celebrated Labor Day with a two-day holiday filled with festivities, and Conimicut sponsored sportes activities ranging from a five-mile marathon to an eighteen-foot crawl for babies.
Traffic to Warwick's seashore reached an all-time high as the beaches attracted over-capacity crowds. It was soon obvious that the bath houses couldn't accommodate the numbers coming to the shore and two motorcycle officers drew the impossible assignment of stopping the dressing and undressing in automobiles at the beaches at Nausauket, Buttonwoods, Oakland Beach, and Conimicut Point.
A New Chief
By this time, the post-war impact on Warwick made it imperative to make changes in teh Police Department. Police Chief William C. Kindlen, after more than eight years in office, resigned to enter private insdustry and Deputy Chief Forrest R. Sprague became the new head of the Warwick Police Force. By this time the department was almost completely motorized, had a radio technician, and had adopted frequency modulation radio. This was a far cry from the old pre-war police force.
It was into this environment that young Michael W. Lynch entered police work. His older brother, James F. Lynch, was already on the force as a sergeant. With Michael's appointment to the Warwick Police Department, the Lynches became the first brothers to serve as police officers in the city.
The Great John L and Michael B. Lynch
From his very earliest years, Michael W. Lynch was fascinated by the stories told by his grandfather, father, uncles and brother. Mike still remembers how his grandfather, Michael B. Lynch, recounted his adventures as High Sheriff of Kent County. Among the most interesting were those Sheriff Lynch told of his encounters with Heavyweight Champion John L. Sullivan. The old sheriff often recalled, "He was the strongest man I ever saw." Sullivan trained at his camp on Capron Street in the Centerville section, which was at that time part of Warwick.
During this period, Sullivan agreed to a boxing exhibition to be held at Rocky Point. In those days, Warwick laws limited boxing matches to four rounds and forbade knockouts. Sullivan was more than happy to comply with this and planned to use the bout as sparring practice for a title fight scheduled in the near future. Unfortunately, his opponent felt differently and believed he could K.O. the champ. Sheriff Lynch said, "John L. didn't strike a hard blow in the four rounds", and complied with the law. The husky opposing Sullivan, however, "showed fight and things got pretty hot for a time in the ring". Thousands of fans began shouting for more rounds and the challenger wanted to continue. John L. tried to "calm his raging and cocky opponent, but to no avail".
Sheriff Lynch, sensing trouble, leaped into a neutral corner of the ring. Sullivan informed him of the situation and threatened to either throw his opponent, "out of the ring bodily, or put him to sleep with a sock on the chin...." Lynch calmly walked over to Sullivan's tormentor and told him, "the best thing was to follow orders, collect the money, and say nothing." The challenger, not anxious to fight both John L. Sullivan and Mike B. Lynch, wisely complied.
Growing up with stories such as these caused young Mike w. Lynch to think of police work as exciting and rewarding. Unlike his brother James, he had no desire to be a "motorcycle cop," but his brother's successful career and the lure of police work was strong.