Today, May 15, is National Peace Officers Memorial Day and a good time to look back at the rich history of the Dayton Police Department, which has served the community for more than 150 years.
On April 16, 1867 the “Commissioners of Police” were appointed by the state to form the Dayton Metropolitan Police Force, the third police department in Ohio, according to the Dayton Police History Foundation.
Previously Dayton had been under the jurisdiction of a constable or marshal, who could form a posse when needed.
The rich history of the Dayton Police Department is filled with historic firsts, memorable anecdotes and pioneering advances in technology.
Here is a look at some of the law enforcement milestones compiled by the Dayton Police History Foundation:
Early institutions. Cells were added in 1856 to a portion of an engine firehouse on Main Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets to become Dayton’s first city jail. In October 1861 the first police station house was established in an engine firehouse at the southeast corner of Sixth and Tecumseh streets.
Pedalling prisoners. The first “prisoner patrol tricycle” was built by Dayton’s Davis Sewing Machine Company in 1898. Two officers could pedal the vehicle while a prisoner sat between them manacled at the wrists and ankles. There is no evidence the Dayton Police Department used the contraption.
A sobering movement. Dayton police kept a watchful eye on Temperance Crusaders in 1874 when the Women’s Christian Temperance Union picked Dayton to be the first major city to visit and pray for men’s souls. Later, in 1904, Carrie Nation, a radical member of the movement known for attacking saloons with a hatchet, came to Dayton.
The first black police officer. William Jenkins was the first black man to be appointed as a Dayton police officer in 1898. He was also the first black officer to have a pension at the end of his career. Jenkins retired in 1917 after being severely injured arresting four of six members of the notorious local “Alabama gang” in 1916.
Slow down. The world’s first speeding ticket was written by the Dayton Police Department in 1904, according to the Dayton Police History Foundation. The ticket was issued to Harry Myers on West Third Street for traveling 12 mph.
Two-wheeler. The nation’s first police motorcycle patrol was established in Dayton in 1911. Four motorcycles were purchased and assigned to the Second and Third Precincts. By the 1920s the squad had expanded to become the largest motorized patrol unit until automobiles took over.
No respect. A Model T Ford became the department’s first automobile on Aug. 26, 1915. It was stolen while parked in front of city hall with no record of recovery ever found.
Quite a ride. In 1930 the Dayton Police Department obtained a Cadillac dubbed the “Bank Flyer.” The vehicle had bullet proof glass, impenetrable tires, customized racks to hold automatic weapons and a reinforced bumper and radiator shield. The car was specialized by the same Cincinnati company that tailor-made two cars for Al Capone and presidential limousines.
Get that gangster. After a nine-year stint in prison, infamous gangster John Dillinger was arrested by Dayton police in 1933. The hooligan, who had been visiting a local girlfriend at her boarding house, was caught on West First Street.
Radio communication. Dayton became the nation’s first police department to install two-way radios in its fleet of patrol cars. The radios were installed just in time for a visit to the city from President Franklin Roosevelt.
Female street patrol. In 1973, six female officers graduated from a Dayton police academy class. Dayton was one of the few cities in the nation to have women on street duty.
Innovative policing. Bicycles became an innovative way to keep citizens safe. In 1990 the Dayton Police Bicycle Patrol became the first present-day bicycle unit in a major city east of the Mississippi and in 1991 the International Police Mountain Bike Association was co-founded by Dayton police sergeant Allan Howard.
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