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30's and 20's

20s and 30s

The early 1920's saw the expansion of the department's use of scientific aids. Newly appointed detective C. Ray Bryan was singled out as a man of ability and foresight and he later created the bureau of criminal identification. The detective division did all investigations while the patrol division did little more than stand by until they arrived.

The annual report for 1924 showed that the department answered 1,324 complaints and recovered more than $94,000. In 1924, the detective division recovered 132 of 180 cars stolen from the city. These figures do not reflect the autos recovered by the patrol division.By 1927 the department numbered 97 officers. When the Volstead Act was passed, the department was well prepared to cope with the rumrunners and bootleggers. City police often encountered the moonshiners at the city limits and such meetings were often exciting. Sometimes shots were exchanged.

Chief W.L.Baker died suddenly of a heart attack in February 1930. He was replaced by C. Ray Bryan who had developed a reputation as a criminologist. He was also reputed to be an expert pistol shot and experienced horseman. Chief Bryan created a fingerprint bureau and was firm believer in the scientific method of criminal investigation.

He was also successful in establishing the first system of radio communication for the police department. RCA conducted tests with a radio transmitter in the Patten Hotel and the city fathers expressed a willingness to purchase the system if the tests were successful.With the coming of the police radio in 1934, the motor squad was eliminated. Radio receivers were too large to be mounted on motorcycles so the department changed to cars. The transmitter was located on the roof of the Hotel Patten and the system was one way. When a call was put out, a bell was rung over the air to get the officers' attention and then the location and type of call was broadcast.

While this system seems antiquated when compared to modern systems, it was a great innovation at the time. Few cities in the nation even had this crude system and Chief Bryan was lucky to be able to get it in only four years.

The early 1930's saw the end of the use of the nightstick as a part of police equipment. The officers were given blackjacks because nightsticks were seen as too violence provoking and dangerous.

In 1937 flooding devastated the nation and the city of Louisville, KY was one of the worst hit. Large portions of the city were evacuated and property was at the mercy of looters. In January, the Louisville Police Department requested assistance from other cities and Chattanooga responded by loaning fifteen officers to the effort.

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