History of SJPD

Police OfficersSaint Joseph was founded by Joseph Robidoux, a French fur trader who founded the first settlement which was known as Black Snake Hills in 1826. In 1846, the name was changed to Saint Joseph. Our city is located in the northwest corner of the state, along the banks of the Missouri River, across from the State of Kansas. We are approximately 50 miles north of Kansas City, Missouri, and approximately 150 miles south of Omaha, Nebraska.

Through the years of history, and the westward movement in the early 1800s, Saint Joseph had its share of fame and happening. On April 3, 1860, three men, Russell, Majors and Waddel founded the Pony Express which carried the U.S. Mail and the news to Sacramento, California. On April 3, 1882, a Mr. Robert "Bob" Ford shot and killed the famed outlaw Jesse James while visiting James at his home. Jesse James' home, the Pony Express offices, and stable have been preserved and converted into museums.

Police officers in lineThe first known lawman was Constable Howell Thomas in 1845. On April 14, 1851, the first Marshall, Francis M. Wright was employed and in 1858, one deputy and six men were styled the "City Guard." During the same year a new city charter was adopted and William B. Tullar was named as the first Chief of Police. In 1886, John Broder was made chief, and was retained when the Missouri Legislature passed a law forming a Metropolitan Police Force on June 1, 1887. During this time the force consisted of Chief Broder, Captain Soloman Broyles, Sergeants John Bloomer and William Lovell, Turnkeys Harrison J. Eads and James Cox, Drivers Peter Bowers and Dennis Burrs, Corporals Thomas J. Huyler and J. B. Smith and thirty-two patrolmen. A central police station was built and occupied in November, 1891 at 7th and Messanie Streets, and in 1899, a wooden structure was completed on the Northwest corner of Cherokee and Pryor Streets (these buildings still stand but are not used for police services). The substation was staffed by two sergeants, one motorcycle officer, two patrol drivers, three detectives, eight patrolmen, and one patrol wagon.

In 1904, the police force had grown to having a Chief, Captain, two Sergeants, a Humane officer, a Matron, two drivers, three signal operators, five detectives, and fifty-one patrolmen. A probationary patrolman earned $60 a month, a regular patrolman earned $70 and the Chief of Police was paid $125 per month.

SJPD Officers on horsesIn 1891, a telephone signal service, which consisted of 37 stations (call boxes), placed at various locations, and the patrolmen were scheduled to signal (call) the station every hour. There was a independent telephone exchange with a switchboard and three operators at the station. This system was leased from the Missouri and Kansas Telephone Company.

In 1910, a signal phone and fire alarm system was provided. Officers made frequent calls on the Call Boxes, and were alerted of their calls by the use of several red lights placed at various locations.

In 1936, the first one-way radio communication was installed, and the call letters were KQBW.

In 1939, the Central Police Headquarters was built at 710 South 9th Street.

In 1986, the department moved to the combined Law Enforcement Center at 501 Faraon Street, with the County Sheriff's Department, complete with the latest technological developments.