In October 1981, The Shreveport Times published a two-page spread featuring newly retired Zwolle Police Chief Quinton Brandon, aptly titled “Walking Tall in Zwolle.” The article was written by Calvin Gilbert. It follows:
ZWOLLE — If a legend ever existed in Sabine Parish, it’s Quinton Brandon. Often compared to Walking Tall Sheriff Buford Pusser, Brandon is credited with bringing law and order to Zwolle.
Brandon retired in late August, ending his 35-year reign as police chief in Zwolle, which, like it or not, has a reputation as a place where many a friendly disagreement in a barroom has resulted in a violent brawl.
But Brandon says most of the stories about Zwolle are based upon incidents outside the town’s incorporated limits.
“These are good people here,” Brandon said. “We just don’t have that much trouble in Zwolle any more. “Everything that happens 15 miles away they seem to blame on Zwolle.”
Wayne Ebarb, Brandon’s successor as police chief, is the first to admit that Brandon is responsible for making Zwolle a respectable place.
“A lot of the old tales on Zwolle are still alive,” Ebarb said. “It’s just not true. Zwolle is a good place.” Ebarb paused and looked at his mentor.
“Thanks to him, we don’t have such a problem these days,” he said.
The son of a Sabine Parish lawman, Brandon received his first concepts about law enforcement from his father, “He believed in it just like I did,” Brandon said. “Anybody that violated the law violated the law.”
“There’s not many men around here — old or young — that I didn’t put in jail at one time or another,” Brandon said. “I’d arrest them when they broke the law. But I always saw that they were treated fairly.”
In a community with an oilfield heritage and a more-than-average population of poor blacks and Chicanos, Brandon’s early days as police chief were long and demanding.
“I was the only lawman.” Brandon said. The days were rough. My biggest problem was the boys carousing around. getting rough and fighting.”
The creation of Toledo Bend Reservoir in 1968 resulted in more problems for the police department.
“I don’t think liquor would have been legalized here if it hadn’t been for Toledo Bend.” Brandon said. “Of course. we always had problems with bootleggers. But this was just a bad place to legalize it.”
Most of the illegal alcohol came from Natchitoches Parish, Brandon said.
“They had a man over there that would sell them a load on credit,” Brandon said. “When they’d come back, they’d bring him the money.”
Brandon, who turns 64 in November, doesn’t move as fast as he once did. A serious stroke two years ago left him partially paralyzed. But standing more than 6 feet tall, he has a look about him that shows he still has the kind of determination which gained him the respect of law enforcement officers and outlaws alike.
Even so, Brandon is modest when it comes to talking about his reputation.
“A lot of it I didn’t want. I had no idea that would happen. I guess I was just a born lawman. They have to be born,” he said, “or they won’t stay with it. You just don’t have the lawmen you used to. Most of them I knew back in my early years are dead. It’s hard to get hold of a man to work in law enforcement these days. Now we have young ones who don’t know what it’s all about. All they want is their time up and a check. I
may sound hard on them. But that’s the facts.”
Brandon has been a friend to Zwolle. But Zwolle’s been a friend to him, too.
A walk with Brandon near the railroad tracks in downtown Zwolle makes you realize that you’re with a local celebrity. Stopping to wave to motorists and speak to the towns-people, Brandon is obviously enjoying his retirement.
“I’ve got a bunch of grandkids who like to visit me,” he said. “I want to spend more time with them. And I want to spend more time with my wife. Not once did she ever complain about me leaving in the middle of the night and staying gone all weekend.”
“I can still hop in my truck and go any place I need to go,” he said. One place he’ll probably be found is the police department next to city hall. There’s a pot of rich coffee brewing there. And although Brandon has been out of office for two months. his coffee cup remains on the wall. Just like Quinton Brandon, it’s gathering no dust.