Leaston Gerald Crews, known to his fellow policemen as "Red,"
was born in Starke, Florida, in 1901. He served for several years in
the U.S. Army before going to Miami Beach in the early 1920's.
He served on the Miami Beach Police Department for several years as
part of their motorcycle patrol, and was one of that
department's first officers. He married a woman named Ida
Ruth Warren during this period, but the marriage ended in
divorce by the early-1930's. Crews did have a son from this
marriage named Leaston G. Crews, Jr. Crews married a woman
named Nora Stromstead during the early-1930's, but this marriage
also ended in divorce by 1940.
In 1925, Crews joined the Miami Police
Department. He served
in the motorcycle division under its commander, Lt. Melville
Tibbits. Tibbits and
Crews were friends for some time. For much of the time Crews
was with the Miami Police force, the Chief of Police was H. Leslie
Quigg. The Chief had a
high regard for Crews as an officer.
In 1927, Crews was awarded the Medal
of Valor for his single-handed capture of two armed robbers after a
30-mile chase from Miami to Hialeah. He chased the suspects on
his motorcycle at speeds reaching 70 miles per hour, with shots
being exchanged between Crews and the suspects.
Later, Crews was assigned the duty to
arrest Al Capone, following a standing order from the City of
Miami for Capone to be arrested whenever he entered the city
limits. Crews arrested
Capone a total of six times without a show of arms.
In 1932, Crews and several other
officers formed the Miami Police Department Pistol Team. With
Crews as the team's Captain, this group
of officers competed in a number of matches around the
country throughout the 1930's and early-1940's. Other members of the team
included brothers Patrick and Gerald Baldwin, James Otto
Barker, Charles C. Papy, H. Draughan, Charles Stanton, Marion
Tucker, and D. G. Reynolds.
At national competitions held at Camp Perry, Ohio, the Miami
team won second place.
They also competed in Cuba several times. The officers trained to use
their pistols entirely on their own time.
The Miami Police Department had no
requirements for its officers to qualify in any way with the use of
firearms until 1934. The Chief of Police at that time, Sam D.
McCreary, ordered all officers to undergo firearms training under
the direction of Sergeant Crews. The efforts of the pistol
team to promote firearms training was a significant factor in the
In 1933, Crews was one of three
officers who acted to protect President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt,
from an assassination attempt carried out by a gunman named Giuseppe
Zangara. Though Zangara's shots did not hit Roosevelt, they did
fatally wound Chicago Mayor Anton Cermack. Both were visiting Miami's
Bayfront Park when Zangara fired at them. Crews, along with Officers
N. Arthur Clark and Raymond H. Jackson, tackled Zangara and wrestled
the gun away from him.
During the 1930's, Crews had a variety
of assignments with the department. He was in charge of the
Vehicle Inspection Station at one point, and later became a police
radio operator. He also
met and married Yulee Lowe, and gained a stepdaughter, Yvonne (my
World War II, Crews worked as a patrol sergeant until he left
the department in 1945.
He was always very proud of the fact that in his entire time
as a police officer, he never fired a fatal bullet.
1946, Crews' stepdaughter, Yvonne, married Earl Kennedy of
Miami, and later had three sons, Harold "Hal", Barry, and
Keith. After Crews
left the Miami PD, he owned and operated Crews Electro Plating
Company until 1963, when he sold the business and moved to the
Florida Keys. He and his wife,
Yulee, lived in Conch Key for a while, and later acquired a house on
Little Torch Key. While living in the Keys, Crews
became a crawfisherman and a member of the Organized Fishermen of
Florida. He also joined the
Conch Key Volunteer Fire Department. In 1975, Leaston
G. Crews died at Fisherman's Hospital in Marathon from complications
related to Emphezema.
His wife, Yulee, died in 1978.