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City of Omaha - Nebraska

Omaha Police DepartmentOmaha, Nebraska

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1857 On February 12, the City was incorporated, three years after the first village had been laid out. On Monday, March 5, J.A. Miller became the City Marshal.

1866 Omaha grew rapidly, and in March the City Council enlarged the police force to four men.

1868 The position of Police Judge was created. John H. Sahler was appointed to the post. The City Council decided that the men of the police force should wear uniforms while on duty. It directed the members of the force to provide themselves with "dark blue, single-breasted coats, shirts and pants of the same material." They were required to have caps with a brass plate in the front marked City Police.

1869 On July 6, the City Council increased the police force to one captain, one lieutenant and eighteen patrolmen. Salaries for the captain and lieutenant were $90 per month, and the patrolmen $70 per month.

1870 The newspaper reported that on August 30, Marshal William G. Hollins (known as "Black Wolf" among the Indians) had discovered one of his patrolmen asleep and snoring under a stairway on 12th Street. The Marshal quietly removed the policeman's star, belt, baton and hat. The policeman, needless to say, could not explain his missing equipment and was dismissed.

1871 In January, by the recommendation of the City Marshall, the force was reduced to 12 men and the rank of lieutenant was abolished.

1874 The office of captain was abolished and the Policemen were put under the direct control of the City Marshal.

1879 The City's first telephone switchboard was installed. The Police Department had a number listed along with 139 others in the first directory.

1882 The Police Department now has a Police Judge, Marshal and 14 officers, who were: Marshal Daniel P. Angel, Officer M. Sullivan, Officer C. A. McClure, Officer Frank Kleffner, Officer H. Jacobsen, Officer O. Buckley, Officer Ed Gorman, Officer Jerry O'Grady, Officer John O'Donahue, Officer William Nightingale, Officer Alexander McCune, Officer Joseph Granacher.

1883 While patrolling his beat, Officer Dillion (who became an Omaha Police Chief) was startled by Omaha's first electric street light near lower Farnam Street. "It wasn't much of a light, but it looked good to me," he said.

1884 Marshal Roger T. Guthrie was convicted of collecting money from a disreputable source and was sent to the penitentiary.

1885 The police station was moved into the basement of the Redick Opera House, which was on the west side of 16th and Farnam Streets. Many of the services were improved. The new jail was considered very respectable. A prisoner could feel perfectly at home, it was reported, if he could abide the presence of a few rats. The Police Department purchased its first wagon – a light and delicate vehicle that had one team of wild broncos to power it. Arrests were complicated affairs even then. An Officer had to drag his prisoner a mile or so to the nearest telephone to notify the station. The station then had to notify the stables and the driver would fetch the prisoner to the station. To improve the situation, the Gamewell System of police patrol boxes was installed. The wandering patrolman no longer had to lug his prisoner for blocks in hopes of finding a telephone. Instead, he merely stepped into his box and pulled a lever and then waited for the wagon. This system later evolved into a telephone box, allowing an officer to converse.

1887 In March the Police Station was moved to the Exposition Building on the southwest corner of 14th and Davenport Streets. On August 19, the Board met and changed the title of Marshal to that of Police Chief. The first man to hold this position was Webber S. Seavey. Chief Seavey served as Chief of Police from 1887 to 1895. Through his leadership and dedication to law enforcement, Chief Seavey was the first president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. To this day, the International Association of Chiefs of Police awards the Webber Seavey award to those law enforcement agencies recognized for their dedication to excellence in law enforcement.

1890 The Police Department began the practice of taking photographs of accused criminals. These photographs were taken by a commercial photographer.

1892 The Office of Chief of Detectives was created and Sgt. Mostyn was promoted to that office.

1894 The force grew to 115 Officers to protect the City.

1896 The Police Station was moved from the Exposition Building to the basement of the Jackson Hotel on 15th and Jackson Streets.

1897 The Police Station once again moved to a former schoolhouse at 11th and Dodge, where it stayed for the next 72 years. During this time, three different buildings were built or remodeled.

1900 The Omaha Police did not possess automotive vehicles at this time and its officers answered calls by horseback, buggies or street cars. It was during this time that the bicycle squad was formed.

1907 The Department grew again and consisted of 135 officers.

1908 The modern era began with the purchase of a big white Steamer Auto Patrol Wagon.

1909 Horse propulsion was completely discontinued in the Department. It was replaced by one light touring car that served as an emergency vehicle, plus two big patrol cars and a two single-cylinder motorcycles.

1923 The Department's motor force was organized into a separate unit. Superintendent Dunn began the Pill Box system. These Pill Boxes were large enough for a motorcycle with sidecar, rest room, a desk and two men. A direct telephone line linked the Pill Box to headquarters. It was claimed that Officers could reach any Omaha neighborhood in less than five minutes from the time a call reached police headquarters. Police Commissioner Dunn called a special meeting to discuss the serious problems of protecting Omaha's children walking to and from school. The outgrowth of the meeting was the establishment of the nation's first safety patrol.

1925 Many payroll holdups occurred near Omaha, so the Police department started a Money Car service. This service was discontinued in 1932. By June 1, the Department had grow to 271 members.

1931 On March 4, the department put into operation the low-frequency broadcasting station KGPI. The station had three radio operators positioned at the "mic" who transmitted to 30 police cruisers on a 24-hour basis.

1932 On July 24, due to budget problems, 49 members of the Department were laid off indefinitely without pay. The remaining officers agreed to increase their eight-hour shift to a 12-hour shift and accept a salary reduction of $30 per month.

1937 On July 19, the City saw the first of its many parking meters installed on the curbs of the downtown business district. The local paper photographed one of the meters with a police hat on it and termed it "Jepsen's Automatic Cop."

1941 Because of the wide distribution of police badges among many persons who were not Officers, the Department chose a new design for its badge, which is still used today.

1948 The Department continued to grow and change. Membership was now 251. Some of the recorded changes are: Daily reports were made by each officer, cruiser cars tops were painted white, neon signs with the words "Police Headquarters and "Police Station" were installed at the Central and South Side Stations, the polygraph (lie detector) had its first use, the single fingerprint file was inaugurated, handy Talkie radios were put into service, a police safety education was established.

1954 Membership strength now reached 295.

1959 Department strength was now at 374 members, with 92 vehicles.

1960 The K-9 Corps (police dogs) Program was inaugurated. By the following year it consisted of 11 dogs and their handlers.

1965 The police cadet program was started.

1968 The contract for construction of a new police headquarters at 505 S. 15th Street was awarded, and actual construction was started on December 1.

1970 On June 6, the six floor Police Headquarters was dedicated. Some changes took place with the move to the new building: installation of a multi-channel (eight channel) three-way radio system in the ultra high frequency range (implemented in April 1971), installation of multi-channel cruiser car radios in all vehicles, installation of a three-digit dialing emergency telephone system using "911", installation of dual flashing lights and new sirens on the police uniform bureau cruisers, creation of the Data Review Unit which classifies all reports into the Records Section.

1972 Authorized strength has now reached 573 Officers.

1973 The Vehicle Impound Unit was created in October.

1976 On March 7, the Criminal Investigation Bureau instituted the concept of Regional Investigators.

1980 The Omaha Police Division received an Outstanding Achievement Award for its exemplary uniform program. The light blue accent features of the dark blue uniform and the uniform program were considered especially noteworthy.

1982 Utah Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety Robert C. Wadman was appointed Chief of Police for Omaha, becoming the first Chief appointed from the outside the ranks of the Omaha Police Division.

1990 The Omaha Police Department began the transition from using standard revolvers to semi-automatic handguns.

1991 In the early part of the year, Chief Skinner called together representatives from various Police Department organizations who represented active or retired officers and their families and non-sworn police employees. This meeting was called to see if there was any interest in creating a memorial to the Officers killed in the line of duty.

1993 The Omaha Police Memorial with the names of 21 Officers killed in the line of duty was constructed. The inscription on the monument reads: "This monument represents the men and women of the Omaha Police Department and their families. Since 1887, this organization has served and protected our community in order that we may all live in a free and safe society. It is with respect and appreciation that the citizens of Omaha honor these dedicated people." This monument was dedicated on Police Memorial Day, May 15.

1994 This memorial monument is now easily viewed by anyone walking into Omaha Police Headquarters.

1995 On Aug 20, Jimmy Wilson Jr., a third-generation Omaha Police Officer, was shot to death making a traffic stop. The suspect used a military-style rifle and attacked so quickly that Wilson was still seat-belted in place with a radio mic in his hand. Officer Wilson's name was the first officer added to the memorial wall in more than 20 years.

1997 A new precinct building was constructed at 30th and Taylor Streets. This new precinct building serves the Northeast sector of Omaha and replaced two outdated assembly buildings at 48th and Ames Avenue and 40th and Nicholas Streets. The Omaha Police Department launched its new helicopter program called "Able-1". The Omaha Police Helicopter has been an extremely valuable tool in the fight against crime.

1999 Another new precinct building was constructed and dedicated at 25th and Deer Park Blvd. This new building serves the Southeast sector of Omaha and replaced the former police assembly at 24th and O Streets.

2000 The purchase of a Mobile Command Center (MCC) was made possible through funding supplied by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the department's seized assets fund. The MCC is designed to serve as a mobile command and control center during periods of natural disasters, civil disorders or other emergencies requiring extraordinary resources.

2003 The Omaha Police Department is reminded of the difficulty, danger and sacrifices that our officers face daily with the death of Sergeant Jason Pratt, who died in the line of duty.

2004 The Training Academy acquired a new 12,000-square-foot facility and was able to host one lateral class and two recruit classes. The new facility provided space for a Driving Simulator to teach recruits emergency vehicle operating techniques, as well as a Firearms Training System Simulator. The department received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) in July. As an accredited agency, we are able to document, via a national standard, that we stand as one of the finest police agencies in the nation.

2005 ConAgra made possible the purchase of a new state-of-the-art facility for the Mounted Patrol Unit. The facility has locker rooms, a tack room, a classroom, and a heated indoor training arena. The Mounted Patrol provides an important patrol service to the Riverfront area. The Riverfront Patrol serves the city's riverfront area, which includes the Qwest Center and Arena.

2008 The brand new Public Safety Training Center officially opened June 30 with a class of 53 police recruits and five fire and arson investigators. Built at 11650 Rainwood Road at a cost of $9.6 million, the combined use facility is shared by Omaha Police, Omaha Fire and the Army National Guard.

2009: Created a Twitter and Facebook page

2010: OPD was awarded with its third reaccreditation award from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). The aging jail area in Central was demolished and the department began process of renovating the first floor.

2011:The new K-9 training facility (Gary and Mary West Regional Canine Training Facility) was dedicated.
Began using the Shotspotter Gunshot Location System (GLS)-uses acoustic monitoring devices to detect and pinpoint the location of gunshots.

2012:Began implementing new Evidence Tracking software
Personnel management and timekeeping system for OPD was updated
OPD Recruit Academy curriculum was overhauled in accordance with standards put forth by the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center (NLETC) and the academy was approved by the Police Standards Advisory Council.

2013:OPD was awarded with its fourth reaccreditation award from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).
Renovation of the first floor of OPD Headquarters was largely completed:
Evidence and Property Unit was renovated and remodeled (storage areas, security, high density electronic shelving system, etc.)
New men's and women's locker rooms and fitness center was completed.

News and Information

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