The History of the Phoenix Police Department

    Phoenix was incorporated as a city on  February 25th, 1881.  Law enforcement was handled by Phoenix  city marshals and later by the Phoenix police officers.  In the early 1900's, 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.

    In 1929, patrolmen worked six days a week and were paid $100 a month.  The police department was located 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 the time was 6.4 square miles, with a population of 48,200.  In 1950 the department reorganized with four divisions, Traffic, Detectives, Patrol and Services Divisions. Officers worked 44 hours per week for $288 per month.  Today, the Phoenix Police Department provides law enforcement to 1.2 million Phoenix residents encompassing an area of  more than 469 square miles.  To accomplish this, the department employs approximately 2,600 police officers and detectives and more than 700 civilian support staff personnel.

On Patrol:

As a project for this class I spent a couple of days shadowing an officer in the South Side to interview and  observe what they do in a days, or should I say evenings work and this is my day in the life of a Phoenix Police officer.

I arrive at 400 w. Southern, which is called the South Mountain Prescient.  Officers patrolling this precinct provide service to the southern area of the city.  Approximate square miles is  101.67 and the approximate population is 210,261.

    It's 2:30 on a Friday afternoon and we are at a briefing, this is where they are updated on what's going on and if there are anything that needs to be  addressed, such as training or a particular area that needs extra patrolling.  On this particular Evening we are on the look out for a person that escaped jail.  After our briefing we make sure we have a full tank of gas and our radios and take off on patrol.  As we are driving around I ask the officer questions the first one I asked him was what things he noticed that people need in the area I was told that people here would like More places for entertainment such as theaters bowling alleys and shopping.  Most people in the area would welcome the idea of a Wal-Mart in their neighborhood.  Medical facilities would also be nice since they only have a Cigna HMO and the Hospital with urgent care.  What the officer told me they do have here in south phoenix is what he would call urban renewal , he stated that there are a lot of pawnshops and Liquor stores on a lot of the corners. On both of my ride along the first call we had was a call for a traffic accident, the officers told me that this is a problem in the area because many people don't have car insurance and that a lot of the people are from Mexico and don't have valid Id's or drivers licenses.


to see map of area