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1st Police Chief

1st Police Chief 

CPD Badge1892-1910_1

This commission met in April of 1883 and decided upon a force that would consist of a chief, assistant chief and 10 patrolman. The chief was to receive a salary of $75 per month and the patrolmen would receive $60 per month.

The force was divided into two squads with each one serving a 12-hour shift. Officers were required to pass completely through their assigned districts during each shift. Authorized arms of the department were a pistol and a billy stick, both to be worn on a belt outside the coat. A silver star and wreath were the only acceptable badges.

On April 13, 1883 the police commission held its election of the new force and chose

James A. Allen as Chief of Police.

In 1885 Chattanooga was still a major railway junction, and the trains gave vagrants the mobility that they had lacked before. They could come to town to panhandle or steal and could stay until they were driven away. The city council passed strict laws against these vagrants and the police force patrolled the Union Terminal regularly.

In 1887, Tom J. Howard replaced James Allen as chief of police. By 1888, the police force had grown to a total of 38 patrolmen. In the mayor's annual report he noted that he had found " Chief and patrolmen ready at all times to render any assistance needed, and promptly to enforce all ordinances of the city." Chief Howard stayed until 1890 when Pat Kilgore replaced him.

Chattanooga's police prided themselves on presenting a neat and orderly appearance to the general public. The officers were drilled daily, and Police Commissioner Messick stated in the newspapers that the force was "the best in the entire state."

Tragedy struck the police department once again on December 19, 1890. On that evening Officer David C. Musgrove was killed while attempting to serve an arrest warrant on Jesse Frierson. Musgrove was shot and killed while making the arrest. Frierson was taken into custody later on by a railroad detective. Frierson was tried and convicted of murdering the officer and he was hanged in the County Jail on January 2, 1892.

In 1893 Pat Kilgore resigned as chief of police after four years in that position. Lt. Fred Hill was appointed in his place. Hill's tenure was to be short lived. In April, E.J. Heiny was appointed by the governor to replace Harry McQuade, a strong Hill supporter. Heiny's appointment shifted the political balance of the commission. In a blatantly political move, Heiny nominated Dock Mitchell for chief. Fred Hill, after serving as chief for only two weeks, was returned to the rank of lieutenant. Mitchell's tenure was also short lived. He was killed after being struck by lightning in July.

On August 1, 1893 Fred Hill was once again elected as chief of police by a unanimous vote of the police commission. Chief Hill was the first "professionally" oriented police executive the department had and during his term of office he concentrated on upgrading the department. He was a founding member of the National Association of the Chiefs of Police of the United States and Canada. This organization was to later become the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Hill was an excellent manager and managed to reduce the size of the department while increasing efficiency. He forged the force into one of the most respected and well-run organizations in the country, and many other agency heads pointed to Chattanooga as a model to emulate. Hill commanded the department until 1905 when politicians managed to have him replaced.

In 1895, the position of Chief of Detectives was created and was awarded to B.D. Haskins. The detective function had grown in importance over the years as police uniforms had become more distinctive and policemen became more incorruptible. Much of the crime had gone underground and the use of lookouts was widespread.

Violence was still an everyday activity for outlaws and robbery was becoming more popular.

The building that housed the police headquarters had been inadequate to serve the police department's needs for many years. On January 15, 1898, police headquarters was moved to the Market House with the rest of city government. In February, the new city jail on "E" street was opened and the prisoners were transferred there.

In 1899, the department hosted the sixth annual convention of the National Association of Chiefs of Police of the United States and Canada. The convention ran from May 9th until May 12th. More than fifty chiefs of police attended the event.

Chattanooga Police Department
3410 Amnicola Hwy.
Chattanooga, TN 37406 (map)

Office hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 AM through 4:30 PM

Emergencies: 911

To report a crime or request assistance: (423) 698-2525

General Information:
(423) 643-5000

Crime Prevention and Community Outreach:
(423) 643-5090

Crime Stoppers Hotline:
(423) 698-3333

Drug Tip Hotline:
(423) 493-BUST (2878)

Homicide Tip Line: 
(423) 643-5100

Homeland Security




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Photo by Mike Williams