Department History

 

  • 1866 - The first Lawrence Police Department building was located on the south bank of the Kansas River in the area near where City Hall stands
  • Turn of the century - the department’s second location was within the old City Hall building at 745 Vermont, where two rooms housed police operations with a cell block for prisoners between them.
  • 1910-1920 - The department consisted of two cars and four officers who worked either 7 a.m., to 6 p.m., or vice-versa, at a salary of $85 per month.
  • 1918 - In November, balls and chains were purchased by the department to "slow down" prisoners.
  • 1936 - The city began purchasing uniforms for officers.
  • 1938 - The first two mobile radios and a base station were loaned to the department for a 90-day trial. They were purchased a year later for $2,401.
  • 1959 – The department employed 22 officers. Each worked seven days on and one day off, with starting pay at $265 a month.
  • 1961 - There were 7,185 recorded calls for service, 389 arrests, 1,604 moving violations and 60,280 parking tickets. The role of the police and the demands placed on them changed dramatically in the late 60s as the result of political and societal instability. War protests, recreational drug use and abuse, racial confrontations and campus unrest were commonplace in Lawrence. During one period, a civil emergency was declared and National Guard troops rode with police officers during curfew. Some officers worked as many as 17 consecutive 12-hour days.
  • 1969-1970 - Periods of unrest demonstrated the need for additional law enforcement and fire personnel, and brought together all Douglas County Law Enforcement agencies into a cooperative relationship.
  • 1971 - A one-half cent sales tax was passed by voters. The tax was earmarked to assist in the expansion of the city police and fire departments.
  • 1972 - Sales tax funds helped expand the police department by 23 officers.
  • 1976 - The police department, the sheriff's department and associated court functions moved into the new Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, 111 East 11th Street.
  • 1977-1980 - the police department was the recipient of a federal grant, the Integrated Criminal Apprehension Project. Under the direction of a new assistant chief of police, the grant allowed a reorganization of the department, while the role of the police officer was expanded and redefined. Training and coordination of police services were stressed and a new mainframe computer system was purchased. As a result of this grant, the department became a leader in the implementation of modern police practices and technology, and was recognized regionally and nationally. The grant focused on redefining the responsibilities and actions of the individual officer.
  • 1988 - The Lawrence Police Department was again reorganized. The changes, the first implement since a 1977 federal grant, were well received by officers and staff. The department created and adopted our Goals and  Objectives and Five Guiding  Principles. These significantly changed the way in which the command staff and department operated. The department also was divided into two bureaus: Operations and Administration.
  • 1990 - Lawrence voters approved a second half-cent sales tax for hiring new police officers, fire fighters and reducing property tax in the city. As a result of that vote, the department hired 27 new officers who received their training in our state certified Basic Recruit Academy.
  • Current - The department currently has 138 commissioned and 41 civilian  officers. Our primary goal remains the same as it has for over a decade: being the Number One Police Organization.