The Unstoppable Officer Rainey

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Sergeant Maurice Rainey in front of the White House, circa 1922. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

You often hear people say that their Grandfather’s or their Great Grandfather’s generation was tougher than their own and the story of Sergeant Maurice Rainey definitely adds weight to that argument.

Rainey was a mounted officer for the Park Police in Washington DC and is pictured above on his trusty J-series Harley-Davidson with attached sidecar.  During his tenure with the Park Police, Rainey was the subject of several Washington Post articles which indicate he was a good officer and not scared to play rough with the bad guys.

Before joining the force, Rainey served in the Army during WWI.  He was wounded in action during an engagement with the Germans in 1918, taking 5 machine gun slugs to the body.  As part of what would be later called the “Lost Battalion, Rainey was one of only 194 who survived the battle.  Making a full recovery from his wounds, Rainey joined the Park Police soon after the end of WWI.

The following three articles come from the Washington Post cover some of Rainey’s exploits while serving with the Park Police.


Sergeant Maurice Rainey on his Harley-Davidson J-series motorcycle, circa 1922. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Washington Post, Oct 2, 1921

Praises Officer Rainey.

Park Policeman M.A. Rainey, who was reprimanded by Judge Mattingly in the Police court early in the week for alleged “wild west tactics” in bringing a speeding motorist to a halt, was yesterday commended for his work by Col. C.O. Sherrill, superintendent of public buildings and grounds.

Col. Sherrill conducted an investigation into the incident, and after a hearing in his office yesterday stated that Rainey’s “actions were beyond criticism and were most admirable.” He expressed his appreciation of the aid given Rainey in making the arrest by Serg. F. Wilson, Gen. Pershing’s chauffeur, and Park Policemen C.D. Fortner and O.E. Morgan.

Washington Post, Feb 28, 1922

Wrecked in Liquor Race

An exciting chase between Park Policeman Maurice A. Rainey, stationed on the speedway, and an alleged bootleg automobile through the streets of the northwestern section, early Sunday, resulted in the machine crashing into a tree at Twenty-sixth street and New York avenue northwest, wrecking it. The alleged bootleggers escaped. The bootleggers threw a quantity of Scotch whisky, Rainey declared, from the the speeding machine. The wrecked car was confiscated by the police and revenue agents. When the bootleggers jumped from the machine Rainey abandoned his motorcycle and gave chase on foot, but was outdistanced by the bootleggers.

Washington Post, Jun 28, 1931

Park Policeman Hurt; Motorist is Released

Park Policeman M.A. Rainey was injured yesterday morning when he was knocked from his motorcycle by an automobile driven by James H. Harper, 23, of Mount Rainier, MD., at Ellipse Road.

Rainey was treated at Emergency Hospital for a broken leg and bruises. Harper was held at the Third Precinct until the extent of the policeman’s injuries were determined. No charges were placed against him and he was later released.


Sergeant Rainey died in October of 1952 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.



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