In 1858 the first two law enforcement officers, James Shrom and Dominic O'Donnell, were hired to patrol what was then the Village of Whitewater. S.D. Ferguson was later appointed Village Marshall. The town was patrolled primarily on foot, with outlying areas covered by horseback.
1900s to 1950s
With the dawn of the 20th Century came new and innovative ways to serve the incorporated City of Whitewater. The first motorcycle began to patrol the streets. Criminals were now fingerprinted and telephone lines extended from throughout the City into the police station. In 1911, George Gill was appointed the first Chief of Police. In the early 1900's an officer's salary was established at $55 per month.
The Great Depression-era of the 1930's saw the police department battling the effects of prohibition while policing with very meager resources. In 1941 a civilian Police and Fire Commission was created to oversee the hiring and discipline of officers. By the 1950's the City's population had grown and so too had the size of the Police Department, comprised then of 7 sworn officers.
1960s to 1900s
The 1960's brought change, turmoil, and reform. The Vietnam War, social unrest, and civil rights brought protest and demonstrations to the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. In 1970, an arson fire destroyed a famous campus landmark, "Old Main". By the early 1970's the Police Department had grown to 20 officers. In 1971, Whitewater was distinguished as the first city in the State of Wisconsin to install a 911 system. Although the overall crime rate remained stable, the City experienced its first homicide in 1977.
In the 1980's the Whitewater Police Department entered the age of technology with computers, a fax machine, and a new radio system installed. In 1990 the first fully sworn female officer was hired. Throughout the 1990's the Department saw continued organizational growth and development with the completion of a new facility, installation of mobile data computers in the patrol cars, and implementation of a variety of community policing strategies.
Today, the Whitewater Police Department, a state accredited law enforcement agency, numbers 24 sworn officers and 13 civilians, who are fully dedicated to ushering in the twenty-first century with their commitment to professional policing. We take great pride in our community, our department, and in our commitment to protect the citizens of the City of Whitewater.
A Chronicle of Law Enforcement in Whitewater- 150th Anniversary
Copies of “A Chronicle of Law Enforcement in Whitewater - The History of the Whitewater, Wisconsin Police Department (1858 to 2008)" (PDF) are available at the Police Department lobby Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A $10 donation goes towards the Whitewater Professional Police Association Scholarship Fund.