Today, the Phoenix Police Department is comprised of more than 3,800 officers and support personnel who protect a population of more than 1.5 million and patrol almost 516| square miles of the sixth largest city in the United States.
Phoenix was incorporated as a city on February 25, 1881. Law enforcement was handled by Phoenix city marshals and later by Phoenix police officers. Henry Garfias, the first city marshal, was elected by residents in 1881 in the first elections of the newly incorporated city. For six years, he served as the primary law enforcement officer.
In the early 1900s, the Phoenix Police Department used Old Nelly, the horse, to pull the patrol wagon for officers. Most patrolling, however, was done on foot. The city at this time was only 3.1 square miles with a population of 11,134 people. Call boxes were used to notify an officer that headquarters wanted him. These were supplemented by a system of horns and flashing lights.
The first Phoenix police officer killed in the line of duty in Phoenix occurred on February 5, 1925. Officer Haze Burch was shot and killed by two brothers on the run from authorities. The men were later arrested when they were found hiding at the Tempe Buttes.
In 1929, patrolmen worked six days a week and were paid $100 a month. The police department moved into the west section of the new city-county building at 17 South 2nd Avenue. The building included jail cells on the top two floors. In 1933, Ruth Meicher joined the police department as the first female jail matron. The city at this time was only 6.4 square miles, with a population of 48,200. In the year prior, the first police radio system in Arizona was installed for the department with the call letters KGZJ.
The department reorganized in 1950 with four divisions, Traffic, Detectives, Patrol and Service Divisions. Officers worked 44 hours per week for $288 per month. In 1974, the Air patrol unit was established initially consisting of one helicopter. A few months later, a fixed wing aircraft and two additional helicopters were added.
Since 1925, the Phoenix Police Department has suffered a total of 33 deaths in the line of duty.
620 W. Washington Street
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