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Indianapolis Police Department

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Indianapolis Police Department

This article is about the police department in Indianapolis prior to 2007. For the city's current police department, see Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
Indianapolis Police Department
Abbreviation IPD
Patch of the Indianapolis Police Department.
Motto Integrity Pride Dedication
Agency overview
Formed September 1, 1854
Dissolved December 31, 2006
Superseding agency Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
Employees 1,650 (2006)
Volunteers 100 (2006)
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* City of Indianapolis in the state of Indiana, United States
Legal jurisdiction City of Indianapolis, Indiana
Governing body Indianapolis City-County Council
General nature
  • Law enforcement
  • Local civilian police
Operational structure
Headquarters 50 North Alabama Street
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Officers 1,200 (2006)
Civilians 350 (2006)
Elected officer responsible Bart Peterson, Mayor of Indianapolis (December 31, 2006)
Agency executive Michael T. Spears, Chief of Police
Lockups Arrestee Processing Center
Patrol cars 1600
Official site
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Indianapolis Police Department (IPD) (September 1, 1854 – December 31, 2006) was the principal law enforcement agency of Indianapolis, under the jurisdiction of the Mayor of Indianapolis and Director of Public Safety. Prior to the consolidation of the Department and the Law Enforcement Division of the Marion County Sheriff's Department, by the City-County Council, approximately 1,200 sworn (police officers) and 350 civilian personnel were employed by the police department which provides service 24-hours a day, 7-days a week to the citizens of Indianapolis.


At the time the agency was dissolved, the Indianapolis Police Department had 1,196 Sworn Policeman and 30 Reserve Policeman. The agency was headed by Michael T. Spears, Chief of Police, Robert Turner, Director of Public Safety and Bart Peterson, Mayor of Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Police Department was responsible for the entire old city limits of Indianapolis.

Patrol Districts

  • North District - Adam Sector - 4209 N College Ave.
  • East District - Boy Sector - 3120 E 30th St.
  • South District - Charles Sector - 1150 Shelby St.
  • West District - David Sector - 551 N. King Ave.
  • Downtown District - Edward Sector - 25 W 9th St.

Rank structure

There are five police districts, each led by a Deputy Chief who oversees their district. Deputy Chiefs report to Assistant Chiefs who report to the Chief of Police who in turn is subject to the authority of the Mayor of Indianapolis.

Police ranks

Title Insignia
Chief of Police
Assistant Chief
Deputy Chief
Probationary Officer
Recruit Officer



Early Days

In September 1854, thirty-three years after the City of Indianapolis was founded, Mayor James McCready appointed 14 men to the first police force, under the command of Captain Jefferson Springsteen. Prior to 1854, peace was maintained in Indianapolis by a town marshal, the sheriff and a few deputies, a volunteer night watch, and a small number of constables and justices of the peace.

During the summer of 1855, as police officers attempted to enforce the recently enacted prohibition laws, they were met with resistance and a riot broke out on East Washington Street. When gunfire erupted from the police ranks, several citizens were wounded. Partly due to this incident and partly because of the expense of maintaining the police force, the ordinance creating the police force was repealed on December 17, 1855.

Early the following year, a second force of ten men, under Captain Jesse Van Blaricum, was created. Under hostile political party action, this force was disbanded in May. The next May (1857) saw a change of party power, and another police force of seven men, under Captain A.D. Rose, was created. In this second rebirth, the Indianapolis Police Department was able to survive and grow.

A Growing Department

In 1862, officers began their first "day work." Up to this time, all police assignments were conducted at night. Police districts were established by ordinance in March 1864, and by 1865 the Department consisted of a chief, two lieutenants, nine day and eighteen night patrolmen, two detectives, and sixteen specials. In 1900, with the City's population nearly 170,000, the size of the force was 166.

The Department began to supplement its sworn strength with civilian employees during the 1950s, shifting sworn officers from administration to direct law enforcement and assigning civilians to the administrative posts. In the early 1990s, the Department expanded the role of civilians with the creation of non-sworn, uniformed Public Safety Officers who perform the functions of evidence collection, accident investigations, and prisoner transportation.

By 2006, approximately 1,200 sworn and 350 civilian personnel were employed by the Police Department which provided service 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.

Housing the Department

The exact location of the original police station is uncertain. Records suggest that an early station was situated at the southeast corner of 200 North Alabama. A high wall surrounded the building, which is said to have been almost hidden from the view of the passerby. In the 1870s the Department moved to a new headquarters at 51 S. Alabama Street, where it remained until the current City-County Building was built in 1961.

Maintaining its central headquarters in the East Wing of the City-County Building at 50 North Alabama, the Department also made a commitment to decentralized, community-based policing. Consequently, during the mid-1980s and 1990s neighborhood district headquarters were established at several locations. Currently, district operations are housed at:

North District, 4209 North College Avenue, opened July 14, 1989 East District, 3120 East 30th Street, opened May 15, 1990 South District, 1150 South Shelby Street, opened May 4, 1995 West District, 551 North King Avenue, opened April 16, 1991 Downtown District, 209 East St. Joseph Street, opened April 1995 (since relocated to 25 West 9th Street)

Mobilizing the Department

The first IPD officers walked their beats, which at the time covered little territory. Some officers rode in buggies and others rode velocipedes of the two-wheeled type. The bicycle was introduced as a means of transportation in 1897 and was used for "hot" runs. Officers assigned to the bicycle units were known as the "Flying Squadron." Horse patrols also were implemented around the turn of the century, and motorcycle patrols were employed from 1909.

The first police emergency automobile was pioneered in 1904. The new car was known as a "steamer," and it was essential that a pilot flame, which kept up sufficient steam to move the car, be kept burning constantly. In 1912, the Department obtained two high-powered Packards that could get to the scene of problems quickly. By 1929, the Department owned about sixty automobiles.

When needed, the Department's first officers commandeered private wagons and conveyed drunks to the station in a wheelbarrow. In 1883, the Department obtained two horse-drawn carts for use as wagons. In 1906, motorized trucks replaced the horse-drawn wagons.

The 2006 fleet was equipped with more than 1400 cars, 45 motorcycles, and 12 prisoner wagons. In addition, formerly discontinued horse and bicycle patrols were reinstituted in 1983 and 1991 respectively.

As with other big-city departments, detectives are not considered ranking officers, but rather officers assigned to specialized units, i.e. violent crimes, robbery, gang and narcotics, etc.

See also


Further reading

  1. Sulgrove, B.R. History of Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co., 1884.
  2. Bodenhamer, David J., ed. The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1994.
  3. Clipping file, Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library. S.v., Indianapolis Police Department.

External links

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