Bonnie blazed a trail from Minnesota to Houston, becoming the first of three generations of officers

Nelson Zoch

There are numerous interesting paths that have led individuals to a career in law enforcement, and specifically, to the Houston Police Department. This is one of those stories.

There was a young lady born in Duluth, Minnesota in October 1930. This young lady, Bonnie, grew up in a small rural community named Aitken, where her dad was the area’s bread distributor.

Bonnie and her sister Jeanine assisted their dad on some of his route deliveries prior to going to school on many cold, snowy and freezing mornings.

Bonnie played basketball for the high school girls’ team and was also a drum majorette in the band.

Bound for Houston

After graduating at the young age of 17, Bonnie had no immediate or urgent plans for her future.

However, she learned that her grandmother, who had been visiting from Houston, was returning to her home and Bonnie decided on the spur of the moment to accompany her grandmother on the drive to Texas.

While she had never been to Texas before, she had always wanted to go there and was not about to pass up this chance. She did have one concern about the Lone Star State and that was would she be able to walk around all those rattlesnakes she had heard so much about. While this decision to go to Houston was a spur of the moment one, it turned out to be a life-changing experience that to this day this young lady did not ever regret.

Upon arriving in Houston, Bonnie learned that the rattlesnakes were not the big problem she thought they would be. She moved in with her grandmother at 3312 Morrison Street, just off Houston Avenue near White Oak Drive. Of course, now she needed employment and an uncle suggested that she apply with the City of Houston.

This would be around 1948 or so. Her uncle introduced her to the Civil Service Director Roy Floyd. Bonnie took a typing test which she nervously failed and was then referred to the Municipal Courts Ticket Division. There she was given an assignment by a Mr. Mitchell, who was the Chief Clerk of the Courts.

This rather daunting assignment was to file, in a proper order, a very large number of parking tickets which had been accumulated in a box with no order whatsoever. After evaluating this quagmire, Bonnie decided to file the tickets by the Texas license plate numbers, a task that required several months. She then did the research necessary to determine which tickets had been paid.

Bonnie continued working in the Municipal Courts Division for the next five years, serving at the Cashier’s window and collecting fines. Apparently the job she was doing was exceptional and Houston Police Inspector Foy Melton approached Bonnie after hearing of her abilities. He asked her if she would like to become a Houston police officer.

She was not sure at first but when she learned that her monthly salary would be $300 she began to seriously consider this offer. Her first thoughts were of what she would be required to do and how she would spend that much money, which was nearly double the amount she had been earning as a clerk.

No Women Allowed

She was asked to report to Assistant Chief of Police George L. Seber, who questioned her as to whether she really wanted to be an officer. In turn, she asked questions regarding the duties she would be expected to perform and she eventually agreed to go forth with the process. She asked how she would be able to learn about the job and the chief instructed her to read books about policing and she would be given a test in three months.

While the Houston Police Academy existed at this time, women were not allowed to be trained there. Female officers were a new and unproven entity, actually an almost unheard of idea in Houston, Texas at the time.

She reported to the Juvenile Division commanded by Capt. R. L. Horton, who assigned her to the 4p.m. to midnight shift under Lt. Earl Kirkland and Sgt. R. O. Biggs. (Author notes here that the R. O. Biggs some of us knew was a Homicide Detective and I am not sure if this is the same man as the Sergeant-Detective ranks were not interchangeable at that time).

After reporting, she was assigned general office duties and also, in quiet moments, began reading the various police books that were scattered around the division. Bonnie read and studied these books extensively in her off-duty time and about three months later, she was told to report to City Hall and take the Civil Service test. She passed the test and reported to Police Chief L. D. Morrison, who was away at a meeting at the time. Morrison had authorized his secretary to swear in Bonnie as an officer. And, then as they say, the rest is history.

Bonnie was assigned Detective Badge No. 368 and sent to the HPD Property Room where an unclaimed .32-calibre revolver from a gambling raid was provided for her. Bonnie how to handle the weapon on her own.

At the time of all this, 1953, Bonnie was married and would become the mother of two daughters and two sons. Her married name was Raney. Bonnie joined Police Officer Lanny Dixon (later Stephenson) in the Juvenile Division. Shortly thereafter, Margie Duty joined them, followed in 1955 by Josefina (Jo) Bankston, Mercedes (Mercy) Halvorson Singleton, Emily Rimmer (Vasquez) and Jean Smith, Velia (Belle) Ortega, Jimmy Schultea Wootten and Ruby Stone. It should be noted that most of these young ladies excelled in their duties and a number of them became wives of HPD officers.

The Juvenile Division

The initial assignments for Bonny were unusual, to say the least. Based in the Juvenile Division was the Dance Hall Detail, which closely worked with the Texas Liquor Control Board. Their duties were to enforce liquor violations, check all dance halls and beer joints for any juveniles being served.

Some of the officers she worked with were Forrest Turbeville, O. D. Patrick, Ned Newman, Charley Cone, C. P. Anderson and Bob Brumley. There were several fights and resisting arrests that occurred and Bonnie strongly suspected that some of these incidents were staged or set up in order for them to see how the females would react “in the heat of battle.”

Searching female prisoners was a common assignment for these female Officers and Bonnie and others routinely assisted Vice Division personnel such as Chester Massey and Dave Hadley in that effort. Bonnie and Lanny Dixon were at one time assigned to dress in swim suits and participate in a diving exercise at the Shamrock Hotel, which was brand new on the South Main horizon.

Bonnie was actually the one that was exposed to a very unusual diving training experiment to recover stolen property from the hotel’s swimming pool. While Lanny did not go into the water, Bonnie did with much trepidation. She was very scared, but followed the orders of then Lt. Earl Maughmer and his brother, Officer Lynn Maughmer. Needless to say, after this assignment, neither Bonnie nor Lanny applied for the newly formed HPD Diving Team. It should be noted here that with the exception of Bonnie, Forrest Turbeville, Jo Bankston and Jimmie Wootten, all are deceased here in 2015.

With all of the difficult assignments Bonnie had experienced, her career took a toll on her marriage. She was one of only several of the above named policewomen who were not married to fellow officers. She was divorced and in 1973 married HPD Officer James (Jim) Montero. By prayer and very good fortune, they remain married to this day and Jim was of tremendous assistance in raising Bonnie’s four children and now six grandchildren.

Bonnie’s dedication to duty and her work ethic continued to follow her career. This brought about assignments in the Community Service Division, Crime Analysis Division, the Extra Job Employment Division, Vice Division, Crime Stoppers, in several Assistant Chiefs’ Offices, and then her last assignment prior to retirement, the Homicide Division. In most of these assignments, Bonnie’s job was to set up crime analysis programs by which repeat offenders could be identified and more easily tracked.

Duty and Work Ethic

Being a dedicated and conscientious officer sometimes becomes a thankless job. However, Bonnie’s attention to duty and work ethic brought her to the attention of superior officers. In 1980, Officer Bonnie Montero was recognized by the prestigious 100 Club of Houston in the Investigative Category for the work she completed in the Vice Division. She was also awarded for the 1984 Women in Non-Traditional Occupations Award by Crimes Stoppers of Houston.

The inner workings of the Houston Crime Stoppers program were explained in detail by Officer Bonnie Montero to a visitor from England’s Scotland Yard, which later implemented a similar program.

As noted, Bonnie’s last HPD assignment was to form a Crime Analysis program in the Homicide Division, where now Sgt. Jim Montero had been assigned since the late 1970s when he was recruited by Capt. Bobby Adams to assist in leading the much-needed Chicano Squad. Capt. Adams asked Bonnie to transfer to Homicide to assist Sgt. Paul Motard and Crime Analysis Specialist Debbie McMenemy in that effort.

Bonnie readily agreed to this new assignment and she and her two co-workers were very successful in the effort. Bonnie and Jim both retired from HPD in the spring of 1989, Bonnie with 35 years and Jim with 32.

In 2015, Bonnie and Jim live in the country between Tomball and Magnolia and are both enjoying their retirements even though Jim, in retirement, worked both in private investigations as well as serving for many years as a trustee of the Houston Police Officers Pension System.

Bonnie truly enjoyed a tremendous amount of job satisfactions during her many years of service to trace and track down criminals and their crime patterns.

Bonnie and Jim’s children are:

Michele (Shelly) Raney (Richards-Scheibe), who became a Houston police officer and retired as a Sergeant-Detective, having worked in Traffic, Juvenile, Jail, Patrol, Narcotics, Homicide and the Inspector General’s Division. She served HPD for more than 30 years and now has a Private Investigations Company.

Matt R. Raney retired after 20-plus years as a Houston firefighter paramedic. He is now self-employed with a nursery and lawn maintenance company.

Janice C. Raney (Orlando-Landry), who also became an HPD officer, retired after 30-plus years as a sergeant. Janice served in Patrol, Narcotics and Vice Divisions. She is now an investigator for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

Dedicated Trailblazers

Patrick B. Raney is employed as a supervisor for a Worldwide Gas Exploration Company and resides in Houston.

Shelly, Matt, Janice and Patrick are all related to Sergeant Brian Raney, their great-grandfather, who retired from HPD with 36 years of service.   They are also related to HPD Officer Ira Raney, who was murdered in the line of duty in the 1917 Camp Logan riots.

It is interesting to note that the trails blazed in the 1950-1960 era by Bonnie and the other female officers cleared the way in many ways for Shelly and Jan in their HPD careers. And, ever more so now, for one of Shelly’s daughters, Elizabeth Scheibe. On Wednesday night, April 29, 2015, Elizabeth graduated from the Houston Police Academy Class No. 221.

Bonnie had earlier in her career been assigned Police Badge No. 1968 at which time the Detective Badge No. 368 was turned in to the Department. No. 1968 had never been re-issued after Bonnie’s retirement and today Officer Elizabeth Scheibe proudly wears her grandmother’s badge.

Elizabeth Scheibe is one of three daughters of Shelly and her husband, retired HPD Lt. Gary Scheibe. The other two daughters are Jessica Scheibe and Bonnie Richards. Jan Hawk is the mother of two sons, Travis and Cody Orlando, and Patrick is the father of Roman Raney.

The Raney family legend lives on within the Houston Police Department, thanks to Bonnie Hobbins Raney Montero and her husband Jim Montero.