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Decade by Decade Dayton Police Bullet Points
Decade-by-Decade Dayton Police Bullet Points
By Sgt. Stephen C. Grismer (retired)
There have been 21 decades of Dayton, Ohio history between 1796 and 2012.  One key component of its illustrious past that is often taken for granted is the vital role of the police in protecting the lives and property of the citizenry and in maintaining local law and order.  Here is a 21-gun salute to the officers of the Dayton police force with one fact per decade about the history of law enforcement in Dayton, Ohio.

  • 1800s:  Jerome Holt was appointed Dayton township constable on July 14, 1800.  His primary duties were to collect unpaid taxes conduct a census of all male inhabitants, and act on the orders of the Justice of the Peace.  In 1808, he replaced George Newcom to become Montgomery County’s second sheriff.
  • 1810s:  In 1811 Dayton’s 383 settlers, concerned with lawlessness, created a Morals Society to assist the town marshal in “suppressing vice, promoting order, morality and religion, enforcing laws prohibiting profanity, swearing and not honoring the Sabbath and other unlawful practices.”  Civilians were expected to aid the town marshal in enforcing laws.
  • 1820s:  Dayton was an agrarian community and smaller than Germantown but quickly growing.  In 1829, the town marshal was empowered by ordinance with new duties.  He was to deal with violations of hogs running at large, remove dead animals from the roads and “suppress all riots, disturbances and breaches of the peace…”
  • 1830s:  Dayton was not unlike towns throughout Europe where unpaid townsmen patrolling roads at night were the only form of policing.  This was the centuries-old practice until modern law enforcement was introduced in England.  A single force of tax-supported constables was formed in London and, beginning in 1830, towns throughout England were directed to form police forces.
  • 1840s:  In the United States Boston formed the first metropolitan police force in 1838 followed by New York City in 1844.  Rattles and day sticks were the tools of the trade for these early foot patrolmen.  Over the next two decades, urban centers throughout this young nation began to lay plans to establish police departments.  Daytonwould be one of those to start forming a "metropolitan police force" by the 1860s.
  • 1850s:  Since its settlement, Dayton had never had a jail.  The marshal and deputy used the basement of the county jail to house city prisoners.  In 1856 the Deluge Engine House on Main Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets (now Dave Hall Plaza) was constructed with cells, thus becoming Dayton’s first city jail.
  • 1860s:  In 1865, hometown Civil War soldiers sought to adapt their acquired military skills to civilian life and the newly developing profession of police work suited their ambitions.  By then, Daytonwas the nation’s 45th largest city with a population of 20,081 and would remain a top 40 city for the next 110 years until 1970. 
  • 1870s:  Dayton was thefirst major Ohio city to be confronted with the women’s temperance crusade.  This may have presented the new police force with its first challenge.  For 25 days 200 women divided into bands and walked from saloon to saloon praying for men’s souls.  This led to a Police Commission order establishing strict rules on tavern keepers for the sale and on-premise consumption of alcohol.
  • 1880s:  The Dayton police force received its direction from the Board of Police Directors.  The Police Board established police policies and made appointments to the force.  The head of the force, the Captain and Acting Superintendent, served two-year terms and had only limited authority until changed by 1901 ordinance that established the head as the Chief of Police.
  • 1890s:  During daytime hours, with one third of all officers working the 12-hour shift, there were only six to 10 officers in each of the three police precincts to patrol the streets on foot as well as run the station house.  The officers patrolling beats were covering as many as four to eight miles per day on shoe leather.
  • 1900s:  Dayton has been credited with issuing the world’s first speeding ticket.  In 1904 Harry Myers was ticketed for traveling 12 mph on W. Third Street.  Although identified by one source, there remains the question as to whether the ticketed Harry Myers was the Hollywood actor who appeared in 257 silent and "talking" films and directed 48 films (his most famous role was with Charlie Chaplin in City Lights).
  • 1910s:  The Great Flood of 1913 was the worst natural disaster in Dayton history and this catastrophe received national attention.  It proved to be the first of three major incidents in which the military was deployed because the Dayton police force found itself undermanned and without the necessary resources.
  • 1920s:  In the bloodiest period in Dayton police history, four police officers were killed in the line of duty.  All of the officers were involved in separate shooting incidents during the five-month span between September 18, 1927 and February 23, 1928.  One of those officers killed in 1927 was Captain John C. Post.  The Dayton Fraternal Order of Police Lodge is named for this heroic officer.
  • 1930s:  Today the Fraternal Order of Police has over 2,100 local lodges nationwide.  On March 2, 1938 the Dayton Fraternal Order of Police became the 111th lodge in the U.S. to be chartered by the National FOP.  Soon thereafter, the “Fraternal Associates”, now Dayton FOPA Lodge No. 1, formed to become the nation’s first FOP Associate Lodge.
  • 1940s:  In 1948, theUnivis Lens Co. was purported to have had one of the nation’s more violent labor strikes.  A Time Magazine article titled Brass Knuckles called it a “savage, three-month-old strike in which heads had been bloodied.”  It drew workers from Delco, Frigidaire and GFR Foundry swelling the “mob” to somewhere between 7,500 and 10,000.  The Governor brought in the National Guard to end it.
  • 1950s:  The Dayton police shoulder patch worn by officers today was first authorized in 1956.  Unlike elaborate patches worn by officers from other police agencies, Dayton’s patch is very simple in design.  A lieutenant once remarked, “This patch says all anyone needs to know about the individual wearing it…”
  • 1960s:  The military was called in to Dayton for the third time in its history on September 1, 1966 after street rioting as an aftermath of a murder on W. Fifth Street.  National Guard troops assisted officers for three days in ending the civil unrest.  Incidents of rioting surfaced in 1967 and 1968 but were ably handled by the police.
  • 1970s:  Before Congress passed a 1972 amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibiting job discrimination based on gender, the Dayton Police Department was one of the earliest in the nation to transition its women officers to uniform assignments.  This began in 1970.  Prior to then policewomen numbered no more than seven, wore civilian attire and primarily handled issues involving juveniles.
  • 1980s:  When Daytondeveloped its first high-speed data network in 1987, it created a technology so advanced it was analogous to having cable service when all others in the nation had dial-up service.  Motorola liked to compare Dayton PD to San Francisco PD in that SFPD had seven times the units but Dayton police ran 10 times more data.  
  • 1990s:  As the decade began, the distinctive ‘white over blue’ color of Dayton police cruisers that had been its paint scheme since the early 1970s was replaced by an all-white police patrol cruiser.  Where previously the City of Dayton seal appeared on the side of the cruiser, the Dayton police badge appeared.  The double-bubble lights were replaced for the first time with newer VisiBar lights.
  • 2000s:  The TASER was first introduced as an item in the Dayton patrol officer’s arsenal of tools.  A non-lethal method of temporarily debilitating a resistant or combative suspect by delivering a 50,000-volt shock, the use of the TASER required police to change their OC pepper spray from alcohol-based to water-based because the alcohol was susceptible to igniting.