Oklahoma native ‘Dick Tracy’ creator helped revolutionize law enforcement

Although his often-grotesque villains were larger than life, Gould was big on realism when it came to Tracy’s investigations.
Said Michael Vance, volunteer curator of the Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection at the Toy and Action Figure Museum in Pauls Valley, “He wanted to be as close and authentic as possible.”
“Dad’s goal in life wasn’t to be the best he could,” said his daughter, Jean Gould O’Connell. “It was to do the best.”
And when something didn’t exist, Gould made it up. His imagination led him to invent fictional elements that later became reality, particularly within the realm of police work.
“There are several instances in which law enforcement caught on to what he was doing,” Vance said. “The chalk outline around a dead body? That’s Gould.”
And that’s not all:
• In 1954, law enforcement began staging suspect lineups, a year after Gould depicted one.
• In 1948, he introduced a portable surveillance camera, made reality in 1956.
• Caller ID became available in 1982 after Gould pioneered the idea nearly three decades earlier.
• Tracy’s “2-Way Wrist Radio” — first introduced in 1946 — allowed Gould’s police characters to communicate electronically before the actual police could in 1958.
“He enjoyed inventions and gadgets,” Vance said. “He believed in an analytical approach. If you stop and think about it, the big push toward forensics today — the little details — Chester Gould was doing that back then.” —Rod Lott

Rod Lott

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