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Police History


  • December 1811-City's name changed from Twickenham to Huntsville -Story of John Hunt (courtesy of Old Huntsvillle Magazine)
  • 1812-Marshall Byrd-First Town Constable
  • December 1812-Madison County's first Capital Murder trial
  • 1816-first census for Madison County is 14,200
  • 1829-1832 Town Constable Fielding L. White's salary-$365.00 per year.
  • October 12, 1831- an ordinance was adopted establishing a Night-Watch patrol
  • 1832-use of old wood jail was discontinued for preparations of a new one of brick
  • 1866- City Marshall's salary was $75.00 per month.
  • January 1869- the salaries of the Police Department were decreased because Huntsville was not in a prosperous condition. City Marshall's salary was decreased from $900.00 per year to $700.00 per year.
  • Spring of 1872- a young soldier visited Huntsville with a proposition for the City's leaders. He wanted to supply Huntsville's police force with uniforms. Many northern policemen were already wearing uniforms, but the idea had not caught on in the South  due to cost. Its not known whether the City purchased any, but two months later, the police force had uniforms.
  • 1873 - An outbreak of small pox affected the city.  A pest house was used to quarantine small pox patients.
  • July 1873- the Mayor began to speak of a new jail with a jail yard
  • July 1873- a resolution was introduced requiring the Marshall and the police to uniform themselves within thirty days.
  • June 16, 1874- police clubs costing $7.80 were budgeted for the Department.
  • 1875 - Huntsville City School System established
  • July 20, 1875 - a resolution was passed to mount day police on horseback.
  • April 1876- extra police hired  to guard the jail. The Departments force up to seven Officers including the Marshall.
  • April 1883- Officers were to be uniformed in blue with brass buttons and regulation badges.
  • October 1883-Loss of Officer William Street
  • July 1887- purchased uniforms for policemen not to cost over $20.00 per suit. The City Clerk was instructed to deduct $5.00 per month from their salary until the purchase money was paid
  • Budget for 1888----- $4,307.25
  • 1888 - Outbreak of yellow fever
  • August 1889- policemen were allowed one week holiday provided no two of them took the same week.
  • September 1892- police officers were required to wear regulation helmets and carry their clubs at all times while on duty.
  • December 1892- policemen were granted permission to purchase overcoats, the City would pay for them and deduct $5.00 per month from their salaries until their debt was paid in full.
  • Budget 1893----------$4,532.40

  • February 1893 - a lieutenant of the day force and of the night force was elected.

  • 1895 - Reports of Scarlet Fever

  • September 1899 - Police & Fire Committee proposed plans for a City Prison in the west end of the city.


  • April 1901--Night Chief of Police salary--$52.00 per month
  • April 1903 - Department consisted of 9 personnel
  • May 1907- the Mayor recommended the Police Department be uniformed.
  • April 1908-Police Captain position created
  • May 21, 1907- each member of the Police Department was allowed two weeks vacation.
  • July 1911--Chief Bullard's salary-----------$75.00 per month
  • October 1914 - Officers were required and directed to purchase and wear uniforms to include a badge or star to be worn in plain view about his person.
  • March 1916--Chief Kirby furnishes a car to cover the police territory of the city, provided the City furnish gasoline, oil, tires, etc., for the time the car was in use by the city.
  • May 1916-Loss of Officer Frank McKissack
  • May 1919- Council moved that salaries of policemen to be raised to $85.00 per month and Police Sergeant be raised to $90.00
  • May 1921 - the City of Huntsville contracted with Bradley & Connor for the purchase of a Ford car to be used by the Police Department.
  • June 1923-due to the traffic problems and lack of police officers, permission was granted for a police dummy to be painted and posted at the intersection of Green and Clinton Street.
  • January 1925-the City Council approves purchase of a motorcycle.
  • April 1925-a new police vehicle was purchased by trading in an old with a difference of $94.26.
  • October 1926-a motorcycle purchased for $399.25
  •  November 1926- the Department was authorized to purchase a Dodge Touring Car and a Chevrolet Touring Car.
  • September 1927-the Department purchased a Harley Davidson motorcycle for $350.00
  • March 1928- the Department requested to purchase a siren for an Indian motorcycle and for the Harley Davidson motorcycle for $32.50.
  • Budget for 1930 -------$24,754.38
  • April 1930-Boy Scouts assist traffic patrolmen at Gallatin and Clinton and also at Jefferson and Clinton with school crossings for school children going home from school.
  • August 1931-Chief of Police grants permission for the Ku Klux Klan to have a parade in the City of Huntsville, however, the Police Committee wanted more time to investigate the matter.
  • August 1932-T.L. Blakemore completes the Course of Instruction in the Fingerprint Department from the Institute of Applied Science in Chicago, Illinois. He developed and implemented fingerprinting in the Department.
  • 1940 - Population of Huntsville is 13,150
  • 1940-Huntsville had 35 miles of street within the corporate limits, 26 miles which was either concrete, asphalt, or brick and 9 miles of unsurfaced streets.
  • 1940-the department consists of a Chief, 2 Sergeants, 17 Patrolmen including 2 traffic Officers. It was equipped with 2 motorcycles and 3 patrol cars.
  • 1941- Redstone Arsenal opens
  • January 1941- 20 cap badges and 20 traffic whistles purchased for patrolmen.
  • March 1941-the city had 80 traffic signals, only 40 in working condition.
  • May 1941-the City Council authorized the purchase of 5 dozen traffic stop signs.
  • September 1942-budget $44,691.64
  • February 1943-the department was granted authority to purchase a radio broadcasting system not to exceed $2500.00
  • May 1943 the department purchased a Motorola Complete Central Station unit, comprised of  50 watt transmitter and associated FM receiver, mounted upright in steel cabinet, and 3 two-ray mobile unites for $3,464.00
  • March 22, 1945 - City Council passed an ordinance creating an Assistant Chief position.
  • October 1945 - The Mayor and Chief of Police met and agreed patrolmen would work eight hour days, seven days per week.
  • March 28, 1946 - The department was authorized to purchase a three wheel motorcycle.
  • September 1946--budget $62,427.77
  • May 8, 1947-Officers received 1 day off per week.
  • May 10, 1947 - Detective Division created.
  • August 1947- 100 uniforms were donated from the Huntsville Arsenal to the department, which were dyed at a cost of $2.75 per uniform.
  • August 1947-the department received 8 traffic signals to be installed by the Electric System.
  • October 1947- 3 sirens and danger flashers were purchased for police cars.
  • January 1949- Police force consisted of 35 officers
  • February 1949-12 police call boxes were installed at a cost of $48.30 per month.
  • December 1949-the department traded for a new radio system for $2,980.00 with Motorola.
  • 1950 - Huntsville's population is 16,472
  • April 1950 - Rifle range and equipment approved by the City Council.
  • August 1950-First female police woman working as a fingerprint and identification expert, later classified as a civilian.
  • October 9, 1952 - Ordinance passed creating the positions of Captain of the Department, one Lieutenant of Traffic and one Lieutenant of Detectives.
  • February 1953-Radios were installed on police motorcycles
  • December 1953-Loss of Officer Etwell Starr
  • November 1954-the Police Department purchased 4 Motorola mobile units for $216 each and 1 Motorola desk consolette and microphone for $250.00
  • 1955-Completion of Memorial Parkway
  • July 1955 - Lincoln Mills strike
  • November 1956-Loss of Officer Alan Logel, Jr.
  • April 1957 - A rotating roster was established for traffic accidents.
  • December 1957-the City Council approved painting patrol cars and motorcycles black and white.
  • 1958 - Huntsville's population expands to 68,000 as a result of the space program
  • 1958-Huntsville Police had a force of 67 Officers with 6500 arrests that year. The department had 8 traffic motorcycles, including 2 three-wheelers and 6 patrol cars. 5 men were assigned to the detective division and police personnel worked 8 hour shifts, 6 days a week. The department also had a 30-man Civil Defense auxiliary patrol.
  • April 1958 - the department purchased 60 Colt model 357, .38 revolvers at $100 each.
  • June 1958--55 name plates were purchased  for policemen.
  • June 1958-the City Council voted to send a police officer to a narcotics school in Washington in order to stop any practices of selling narcotics in the city.
  • 1959- Huntsville Police added 17 officers bringing the force to 72. The department instituted its first school for officers.  The six week course was attended by the newest members of the department.
  • June 1959-Flasher lights were installed on police motorcycles.
  • November 1959 - Police force consisted of 81 officers.
  • January 14, 1960-Juvenile Division created.
  • 1960 - Huntsville's population is 72,365
  • March 1960-the Police Committee requested to purchase a used patrol wagon from the City of Birmingham for $850.00.
  • February 1961-Chief Pylant request to purchase 24 Colt 357 pistols at a cost of $51.85 each from the Colt Manufacturing Company.
  • February 1961- Chief Pylant requested to order 80 patches to go on the uniforms. The patches were from the Flechiemer Company and cost $586.90.
  • March 1961 - A radar speed checker was purchased from Janette & Company.
  • February 1962-the Detective Division purchased a Polaroid camera  from Montgomery Ward for $161.00
  • 1960's, 70's Officers had to drive to McCain's uniform shop in Birmingham to get their uniforms with an allowance of $100.00, and purchase their leather at the House of Guns.
  • June 14, 1962 - Chief Christopher Spurlock replaces Chief Grover Pylant. Under Chief Spurlock the Police Records sections were consolidated into a central organization.  The Detective Division was reorganized into squad structure: Burglary and Grand Larceny Squad, General Detective Squad, Homicide Squad and Vice Squad.
  • July 1962-Loss of Officer Charles Drake, Jr.
  • October 1962 - Motor Scouts received an increase of $25.00 for the extra hazard of their employment and extra cost of their uniforms.
  • December 1962- HPD rents a Xerox copier for reproduction of various police records required to furnish to the public
  • 1963 - K9 King was donated to the department.  Patrolman Wayne Hicklin was sent to Baltimore, Maryland to attend a 12 week basic Patrol Dog course, creating the K9 Squad.
  • Budget for 1963-1964---$1,125,900.00
  • January 1963-the Department submitted bids for two paddy wagons.
  • 1963-Huntsville Police had a force of 136 with all but 12 being sworn and bonded. 30 civilians made up radio, jail, records, supply, and maintenance.
  • May 1963-Robert Bailey is first black police officer.
  • December 26, 1963 - Chief Floyd Dyar appointed Chief of Police.
  • January 1,1964-Huntsville receives 17" of snow.
  • January 1964-Chief Dyar request to City Council 10 additional patrolmen and additional police cars.
  • March 1964-Chief Dyar request to City Council an adequate PBX board and 5 switchboard operators.
  • 1965 - K9 Division expanded
  • September 6, 1965-Public Safety Building on Fountain Circle opened.
  • Budget for 1965-1966 included the addition of 8 civilian jail employees.
  • June 1966-Loss of Officer Preston Butler
  • Budget for 1968-----$1,813,964.00
  • January 28, 1965 - The City Council approved the motion to give School Safety Patrol the power to make arrests.
  • February 1965 - The City Attorney drafted a contract with a wrecker service for the storage of impounded vehicles by the City.
  • August 1968-Loss of Officer William Gaskin
  • 1970's brought chemical mace to Huntsville Police Officers
  • July 1970-breath analysis equipment purchased.
  • August 1, 1970 - Chief Sweeton named acting Chief
  • 1971-the City of Huntsville establishes a Personnel Department. No longer would a person go before the Chief of Police to be hired.
  • 1971-Bomb Squad organized.
  • April 1972-First HPD polygrapher.
  • Budget for 1972-1973---$3,333,498.00
  • March 1973-6.5 inches of rain fell in 12 hours, most of central Huntsville is under water or inaccessible. Vehicle pictured is a 1960 Ford Falcon belonging to Retired Deputy Chief Ed Nixon.
  • June 1973 - Under the Omnibus Crime Control & Safe Streets Act of 1968 radio communication equipment was purchased  for $144, 543.00. The department had to contribute $7, 607.00.  The department also acquired equipment that would link the Alabama Crime Information Center through use of modern computer technology.
  • April 1974-Tornado Super Outbreak
  • April 1975-Crime Scene Evidence Technician Team formed.
  • Budget for 1976-1977---$3,995,939.00
  • May 1978-Loss of Officer Billy Clardy
  • November 1978-Huntsville police & fire strike lasting 6 days.
  • Budget for 1979-1980---$5,598,047.00--the department purchased 10 motorcycles and a command post.
  • First Community Watch Group organized in 1979
  • September 21, 1979-Arrest of John Paul Dejnozka-aka "the Southwest Molester", after a year long manhunt for a series of attacks on 18 women during 1978-79.
  • January 1980 - Chief Salvadore Vizzini came into the department immediately making changes. Chief Vizzini created an Internal Affairs Division. He utilized uniform officers to secure the main building, putting an officer at the front desk as security and a receptionist. Everyone in the department was required to wear uniforms, with the exception of undercover personnel. He forbid officers from keeping their hands in their pockets. AM/FM and CB radios were removed from all police vehicles. He ordered all cars locked at the end of each shift. Employees were told to address officers by rank instead of formally. Identification badges were required at police headquarters. All officers would carry .38 caliber pistols with  "super s" hollow point bullets with speed strips and snatch resistant holsters. Officers were required to leave the engines running while out of the vehicles, which resulted in a few police vehicles stolen. The vehicles were also keyed alike after an incident involving a citizen throwing the key from a marked unit. Uniform Officers were to keep their hair closely cropped and could not smoke in uniform. Uniform equipment was to be worn in the exact order that was arranged. Uniform shirts were changed from light to dark blue.
  • Budget 1980-1981----$6,154,622.00
  • June 1980-Traffic Task Force launched
  • September 14, 1981-Gasoline tanker slides into a train during a rainstorm at Governors Drive/Jordan Lane killing 5 people.
  • March 1982- Department started using an Alcohol Analysis Unit
  • 1982-Patrol vehicles color scheme went from black/white to blue/white. Later to change to solid white with medium blue reflective decals. Vehicles also received protective dividers separating the rear seat from the front.
  • 1983-the Department participated for the first time in the U.S.P.C.A trials.
  • March 1985 - Starting salary for officer is $16,494
  • September 1985 - Lt. Ric Ottman is chosen to replace Chief Vizzini..  Chief Ottman was instrumental in instituting numerous changes. He mandated that all officers receive a minimum of 40 hours of in-service training per year, and required officers qualify a minimum of twice each year. Ottman assisted in forming a 13 member Citizens Police Quality Council in 1992, and also moved the department's communication center from the lobby to an isolated area as he viewed the lobby as an extremely vulnerable site. Ottman also implemented a Chaplains program for the Department.
  • September 1985 - Department consists of 252 sworn officers.
  • February 25, 1986 - Arrest of "Five Points Rapist"
  • December 20, 1986-Kettle incident-Officer Killian and K-9 Tiger shot while attempting to end a 5 hour standoff and changed HPD SWAT philosophy.
  • July 6, 1988-HPD stops using 35 propane powered patrol cars after Officer Ed Smith's 1986 Dodge Diplomat explodes.
  • November 1989-an F-4 tornado rips thru South Huntsville killing 21 and injuring 463, leaving 1000 homeless and $250 million in damages.
  • 1990-D.A.R.E. program initiated.
  • 1991 - the department began preparations for accreditation to bring the department up to the national standards of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (C.A.L.E.A.)
  • October 1991-Opening of I-565.
  • 1992-All sworn personnel issued 9mm Beretta replacing Smith & Wesson revolvers.
  • March 1992- Communications moved from Public Safety Building to basement of former public library utilizing $1.4 million Intergraph computer-dispatch system
  • May 22,1992 - Dr. Jack Wilson found murdered in his home.
  • July 18, 1992 - Seatbelt use becomes law in Alabama.
  • August 1992-Officers issued vehicles under the COPP (Community Oriented Police Patrol) program to increase community visibility, with full implementation by 1996. The City leased 60 new patrol cars for this program.
  • 1994-800 Mhz radios to replace outdated 1960's equipment.
  • May 1994-Fox Unit formed to reduce crime in the Huntsville Housing properties.
  • June 27, 1994-Experimental Baker Precinct opens, lasting 3 years.
  • September 1994-Dunlop strike
  • July 1995-School Resource Officers program launched with officers assigned to area high schools.
  • July 1995 - Department consists of 350 sworn officers.
  • September 1995-Last day of motorcycles used by the Department.
  • 1996 - Huntsville Police Academy 1st Lateral Academy
  • 1996 - Senior Crime Academy established
  • February 1996 - Ground broke for public safety complex
  • March 23, 1996-Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies
  • August 1996 - Compton Owens chosen as Interim Chief-Appointed permanent Chief in December 1996.
  • October 1996 - Certain officers issued Colt A4 .223 Rifles
  • 1997-Reflective stripe removed from uniform pants.
  • March 1997-Police Communications moved to Enhanced 911 Center to combine emergency services in Madison County
  • April 1997 - Alarm Unit created
  • April 19, 1997 - Domestic Violence Unit formed.
  • October 1997 - A limit is placed on the number of HPD vehicles in funeral processions to reduce the manpower expended with the customary practice that began in 1939.
  • November 1998-Bicycle Patrol program launched
  • June 1999- HPD moves to 815 Wheeler Ave- Municipal Justice Safety Center
  • July 1999-HPD Mounted Patrol Unit began a one year pilot program

  • February 21, 2000-HPD opens 3 precincts
  • April 2001 - HPD Officers issued AR-15 Rifles
  • July 28, 2001 - Department receives re-accreditation by CALEA
    September 11, 2001 - Homeland Security created after the terrorist attacks
  • September 2002 - Officers issued Benelli Nova Shotguns
  • December 31, 2002 - The department consists of 350 sworn officers and 172 support personnel.
  • 2003 - Completion of Automatic Vehicle Locating software
  • February 2003-Detention Services turned over to the Madison County Sheriffs Department.
  • March 20, 2004 - Department receives re-accreditation by CALEA
  • September 2004-Began installation of Mobile Data Terminals
  • Chief Reynolds (November 2004-February 2007)-October 2004 Lt. Rex Reynolds chosen as Interim Chief - Appointed permanent Chief in November 2004
  • August 2005-Loss of Officer Daniel Golden
  • September 2005-Change to more visible and efficient LED light bars
  • January 2006 - The department expanded to 394 sworn officers.
  • March 2006 - Huntsville Police Citizens Foundation created.
  • August 2006 - Began installation of digital in-car video equipment
  • October 2006 - Budget for fiscal year 2007 $34,146,390.00
  • February 2007 - Henry Reyes chosen as Interim Chief - Appointed permanent Chief in April 2007
  • March 17, 2007 - Department receives re-accreditation by CALEA
  • April 2007 - Began utilizing E-Citations software
  • May 2007 - The department began using AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System)
  • October 2007 - Budget for fiscal year 2008 $38,371,522.00
  • December 2007 - Loss of Officer William Freeman.
  • January 2009 - A 2nd Traffic Task Force was added.
  • October 209- Budget for fiscal year 2010 - $39,799,360.00
  • February 2010 - Began utilizing E-Crash software
  • March 5, 2010  - 50th Session of the Huntsville Police Academy graduate
  • March 27, 2010 - Department receives re-accreditation by CALEA
  • May 2010 - Mark Hudson chosen as Interim Chief
  • June 2010 - Citizens Advisory Council established
  • October 2010 - Budget for fiscal year 2011 - $39,700,000.00
  • March 24, 2011 - Groundbreaking for Fallen Officers Memorial
  • April 2011 - April 25 - 28 Tornado Outbreak
  • June 2011 - Began installation of Motorola full digital radio conversion
  • June 2011 - Began installation of drivers license reader equipment
  • July 11, 2011- 51st Session of the Huntsville Police Academy begins
  • October 2011 - Budget for fiscal year 2012 - $40,404,926.00
  • October 28, 2011-  Huntsville Police implement new immigration law
  • November 10, 2011- 51st Session Academy graduated
  • November 29, 2011 - Huntsville Police Fallen Officer Memorial dedicated
  • April 2012 - First class of Citizens Police Academy
  • April 1, 2012 - Lewis Morris chosen as Interim Chief - Appointed permanent Chief in November 2012
  • September 2012-HPD took delivery of the Ford Interceptor
  • November 5, 2012 - 52nd Session Academy began
  • February 2013 - all sworn personnel switch from Beretta 92 to Smith & Wesson M&P
  • March 8, 2013 - 52nd Session Academy graduated
  • August 3, 2013 - HPD Receives Sixth Accreditation Award
  • February 17, 2014 - 53rd Session Academy began
  • April 14, 2014 - HPD K9 Takes Top Honors
  • June 20, 2014 - 53rd Session Academy graduated
  • March 2, 2015 - 54th Session Academy began
  • May 14, 2015 - HPD SRO Unit Receives Awards
  • July 2, 2015 - 54th Session Academy graduated



Copyright 2015 The City of Huntsville, Alabama   08-14-2015