60 Years of Beddingfield Officers
Murphy Police Officer Tommy Beddingfield and Richardson Police Officer Robert Beddingfield are cousins. Both are sons of police officers and grandsons of a police officer. As children, they recall sitting around listening to the police scanner at their grandparents’ house during the summer. Tommy said, “Pawpaw (B.T. Beddingfield) was an investigator and we’d always listen for him on the scanner. Mamaw always knew when Pawpaw was coming home. She’d hear it over the scanner and knew he was coming up the hill. It was like clockwork. If he was going to be late, he’d ask dispatch to call Mamaw.”
Both Tommy and Robert said that they had decided they would follow in their father and grandfather’s law enforcement footsteps while they were in elementary school. They saw many of their relatives going to work in officer uniforms and came to see law enforcement as family which was a close and positive influence on their lives. Robert said that he recalls his mom cooking big meals for the officers his dad (Randy Beddingfield) trained and he eventually worked with some of the officers he had shared meals with as a youth.
Tommy recalls his grandfather telling stories about Lee Harvey Oswald. His grandfather worked in the Dallas city jail at the time of Oswald’s arrest and had daily interactions with him. Tommy said his grandfather said, “The main thing Oswald always asked about was the weather.” Robert and Tommy both highlight the fact that their grandfather was a superior fingerprint identifier. They said that even after he had retired, police departments would bring fingerprints to him to examine and ID. Robert remembers B.T. at the dinner table pouring over fingerprint cards. He said that his grandfather knew his grandchildren were interested in what he was doing, but he never explained the severity of the crime behind the fingerprints.
Tommy and Robert said that their families were not surprised when they made the decision to become police officers. They received sage advice from their fathers, “Work is work and home is home. Separate the two”. They said their fathers didn’t talk much about work at home. Robert said if his dad came home late from working deep nights he would explain in vague generalities as to why, “I was putting someone in jail, it took a long time to write him up.”
Randy Beddingfield served as a police officer from 1984 – 2013. He was with Richardson PD for the last 28 years and worked with Murphy Chief Trey Cotten during some of that time. Randy said he chose to become a police officer because that was the only career he was exposed to as a child because his uncles and father were officers. He said when his son, Robert, chose to follow in his footsteps, he was very hesitant at first because he could see where a career in police work was going, and he knew his son would not get rich being an officer. He adds, “He chose to follow me and I did all I could do to support him. I’m very proud of our law enforcement family tradition.”
Duane Beddingfield is currently with the Smith County Sheriff’s office. He has been in law enforcement for 30 years. He said he chose to be an officer because he was following the family tradition. He said, “I was drawn to it. It always piqued my interest.” Just as his brother Randy had told his son, Duane told Tommy that he wouldn’t get rich in this line of work. He said, “It makes a dad proud when your son wants to follow in your footsteps. I encourage him and help him in any way I can.” Reflecting on police work in general, he said, “When you think you’ve seen everything, you go to work a few days later and something will pop up that you’ve never seen before.”
Robert and Tommy answer what they believe their grandfather would say has changed regarding law enforcement since 1958 when he became an officer: Racial tensions are reverting back to what it was like in the 50’s. When civil rights problems arose, people didn’t destroy communities as they sometimes do now. Officers are more scrutinized. Media coverage has increased. Technology has advanced. The justice system is more backed up now. Punishment is minimized more now than then.
B.T. Beddingfield was an officer for 40 years. Tommy Beddingfield has been an officer for 10 years and with MPD for one year. Robert Beddingfield has been an officer for eight years, all of which have been with Richardson PD. Tommy and Robert both have children, the only one who is old enough to understand the idea of a career path has said he would like to be a police officer when he grows up.