Elvis Presley’s Police

If Elvis had not grown up to be the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, there’s a chance he would have been a police officer.

As the world’s most recognizable celebrity, Elvis needed security almost all the time, so he spent plenty of time, and became friends with, the officers who ensured his safety. In honor of Peace Officer Memorial Day (May 15, 2015) and Police Week, we’re looking at Elvis’ fascination with police work and his friendships with officers.

Elvis hangs out with members of the Memphis Police Department in 1956.

Elvis hangs out with members of the Memphis Police Department.

Elvis always had a deep respect for law enforcement.  As a teenager living at Lauderdale Courts in Memphis, he’d hang out at Fire Station #4, across the street from the Suzore Theater on Main Street. The firemen remember Elvis hanging around, often with his guitar. After he graduated from high school, Elvis saw a lot of his classmates become firefighters and officers, so their friendships carried over. He was fascinated with police work and respected the officers for their service.

“I don’t care where he was, whenever he saw the police, Elvis always stopped and talked to them,” said Memphis patrolman Jim Hammers. ”He would drive up beside them in the street and get them to pull over. He would spend hours at a time talking with them in different places.”

Elvis was friends with members of the Memphis Police Department before he became famous. Here he chats with an officer before getting a haircut at Jim's Barber Shop on Main Street.

Elvis was friends with members of the Memphis Police Department before he became famous. Here he chats with an officer before getting a haircut at Jim’s Barber Shop on Main Street.

Elvis also often stopped by police stations late at night and on holidays to visit the officers who were serving the public instead of spending time with their families. One night, Elvis came up on a traffic accident and got out to help the cops direct traffic. It worked well for a while, until fans started noticing it was the one and only Elvis Presley who was directing traffic.

He made friends with officers wherever he traveled, and he loved collecting badges from across the country. He often donated to Police Associations and departments across the nation.

As a Memphis resident, he was especially close with Memphis Police and Shelby County Sheriff’s departments. Elvis purchased equipment and uniforms for the Memphis Police Department’s softball team. At Christmas, he gave $100 to the Memphis patrolmen who were working in the Whitehaven neighborhood, where Graceland is located. He gave a Mercedes Benz to then-Shelby County Sheriff Bill Morris, who was a close friend. Morris was the man who nominated Elvis as one of the Jaycees’ Ten Outstanding Young Men awards, the only award Elvis ever personally accepted. Morris also deputized Elvis as a member of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department.

Elvis had this picture taken for his Memphis Police badge in the TV Room at Graceland.

Elvis had this picture taken for his Memphis Police badge in the TV Room at Graceland.

Elvis' Memphis police badge, using the photo taken in the TV Room.

Elvis’ Memphis police badge, using the photo taken in the TV Room.

Early in his career, Elvis became friends with Memphis police officer Fred Woodward. He started providing security for Elvis when he was in town, starting at the earliest of Elvis’ career. Woodward died suddenly of a heart attack in 1960, and it broke Elvis’ heart. He paid for Woodward’s  casket and funeral services.

In 1976, Elvis lost another friend when Officer Eugene Kennedy died. Kennedy was an officer for the Denver, Colorado Police Department and brother of Captain Jerry Kennedy. Elvis postponed a recording session to pay his respects. He attended his funeral in a specially tailored Denver police captain’s uniform, and arranged for J.D. Sumner and The Stamps Quartet to perform at the services. Elvis also purchased a beautiful blue Lincoln Mark IV for Captain Kennedy.

Elvis hangs out with Nick Adams, left, and Captain Woodward.

Elvis hangs out with Nick Adams, left, and Captain Woodward.

As Elvis himself would say, “thank you, thank you very much” to police officers who serve and protect.

Many pieces of Elvis’ police collection, including badges, lights and more, are on display here at Elvis Presley’s Graceland.


23 Comments

  1. Dale M howe

    I was a huge fan of his in the 50’s and all the way up to now,I listen to Elvis on satellite when i’m driving,he was was my favorite performer.When my blue moon turns to gold again was my favorite song.Long live the gentleman!!

  2. Kathryn J. Woodward

    This is a very interesting aspect of Elvis’ life. It is also interesting that one of the officers he was friends with has the same last name as I. Seeing as how it’s my maiden name. I myself have been an Elvis fan since I was 10 years old & first heard him on the car radio singing “In The Ghetto”. Thank you, thank you very much, for all news new and old about Elvis.

  3. Guillermo Perez-Arguello

    In the photo where Elvis is wearing a light coloured suit and a tie Elvis he is NOT hanging out with members of the Memphis Police Department in 1956. Not in 1956. LOL. That photo is from June 28, 1957, when he agreed to help Danny Thomas in his drive to obtain early financial assistance towards the building of Thomas’ dream, that which later became St Jude’s. The photo was taken at Russwood park, where Elvis helped draw some 11,000 people from the three states, TN,MS and Al. He did not sing that night,justbtook thestageto say a few words and encouraged those in attendance to give their contributionsas soon as possible, which they did.

  4. Guillermo Perez-Arguello

    This is my message, without the typo errors “In the photo where Elvis is wearing a light coloured suit and a tie, he is NOT hanging out with members of the Memphis Police Department in 1956. Not in 1956. LOL. That photo is from June 28, 1957, when he agreed to help Danny Thomas in his drive to obtain early and timely financial assistance towards the building of Thomas’ dream, that which later became St Jude’s. The photo was taken at Russwood Park, where Elvis helped draw some 11,000 people from the three states, TN,MS and Al. He did not sing that night,just took the stage to say a few words and encouraged those in attendance to give their contributions as soon as possible, which they did.

  5. Guillermo Perez-Arguello

    Sorry, my second message contained another important error. Here is my final comment. ” In the photo where Elvis is wearing a light coloured suit and a tie Elvis he is NOT hanging out with members of the Memphis Police Department in 1956. Not in 1956. LOL. That photo is from June 28, 1957, when he agreed to help Danny Thomas in his drive to obtain early financial assistance towards the building of Thomas’ dream, that which later became St Jude’s. The photo was taken at Russwood park, where Elvis helped draw some 11,000 people from the three states, TN,MS and AR. He did not sing that night,just took the stage to say a few words and encouraged those in attendance to give their contributions as soon as possible, which they did”

  6. Byron Autry

    Thank you for the pictures !

  7. Diane Deaville

    Elvis would have a made a great cop,he believed in treating folk the way he liked to be treated. R.I.P. Elvis, still love and miss you.x

  8. Claudia M.E.Charles-van Groning

    Really Elvis being true as he allways ever was.
    I have to say I made some collages of Elvis and one of them has the Memphis Police-badge in it. Looking at it every day cause it`s hanging at my door that leads you outsight.
    Thank you for sharing this so personal stuff of Elvis with us..his fan`s.
    Sincerely,

  9. mary ann scudiero

    Did not know that info, thank you

  10. Raymond Walter

    A fan all my life, knew he collected police badges, but did not know he admired the police this much.Being a former police officer,just another reason to like Elvis! Thanks for the info.

  11. Tammy Lamb

    Been a fan since I was a little girl. I was 8 when he died and remember how horrible I felt for him and his family. Still a huge fan today and enjoy showing my grand children his music and information about him. What a wonderful person he was. Many people today should follow his leads. May he rest in peace and know all the enjoyment he brought to so many.

  12. John William Vickers

    I only would like to remark how cleanly shaven all three True Southern Gentlmen are presenting in the Photograph. Thank you, Keep it between the Mayo and the Mustard. Sincerely, Johnny Vickers

  13. william

    cool

  14. Milica Djukich

    Thank you for showing that about Elvis , how he respected the offericers and what they did! I don’t know what he would feel like today at what is going on! He was a generous man to a fault, even when he became a big star, he still though of the little guy and tried to help! GOD BLESS those policeman than and now! Prayers for all of them during this hard time in our country!

  15. Mary T B

    I actually had the pleasure of seeing Elvis perform in Mobile, AL in the summer of 1972, he was electrifying! The saddest day was when he passed, which was 3 days after my August birthday. I have always wanted to celebrate my birthday by visiting during Elvis week…a fan since I was a young teen, and I love seeing the ETA performances…RIP, always young in my heart, E!

  16. Patti

    That is so cool,too bad there’s not that respect for the Police today.
    I never knew this,so thanks for sharing this information and the little things about Elvis,that maybe some have forgotten;]

  17. Letitia Ryan

    The King of Rock and Roll – imagine how cute he would have looked in a police uniform! But you can’t beat those jumpsuits, the Army uniform, his style, looks and that beautiful voice.

  18. gwen mumley

    I knew Elvis was a very generous person, but not to this extent. If every famous artist gave to this degree, the world would be a much better place. The world though, is already a better place just for having Elvis for at least a short time.

  19. Tammy

    Elvis was a very respectful human being. Everybody loved him and respected him. Even today and he’s almost been gone 38 years. RIP Elvis.

  20. Jason

    I am a Police Officer in Florida and a huge Elvis fan. I was only two when he died but have loved him since I was a child. I have had the pleasure of going to Graceland several times and I love the police stuff. It is so cool that he was so pro-police. Just one more reason to appreciate him.

  21. Rob Bertrand

    My mother loved Elvis along with me when my mom passed in 2012 we covered her with her favorite blanket it was a full size picture of Elvis face when my mom was in palliative care we played his songs we knew she could hear him RIP Mom and Elvis. Love RCB

  22. Didn’t know Elvis was a friend to the police. Thought he was a policeman himself.

    Thanks for the information.

  23. Elvis had many facets to his personality. Such a great performer and singer. Loved by so many, because he loved many. I know he had a seeking heart for God, more, I truly feel, than many realized. I love to watch him as he sings and performs on You tube, to this day. Why bother with an Elvis impersonator when you can still see and hear the real Elvis! Still such a thrill! I’m a hopeless Elvis fan, even at age 80. Although I never got to see him, he was my peer. I always wished I could have been one of those lucky ladies he kissed as he sang Love Me Tender. A very generous soul! Thanks for the information about his interest in police, God bless you, Elvis! Sing with the angels!

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