The Lincoln Police Department had its humble beginning in 1855. In 1855 when Lincoln was incorporated as a town, the board of village officers created the position of “Constable”. LeRoy Brown was appointed as the first Constable for the town of Lincoln. The position of Constable lasted until 1865.
In 1865 the position of “City Marshall” was created when the town of Lincoln and Postville combined to form the city of “Lincoln”. The newly formed City Council of Lincoln appointed Charles C. Brackett as the first City Marshall. Thereafter, the position of City Marshall was filled by elections each year, along with other elected city officials, in the month of April.
The following is a list of City Marshalls and the year they were elected:
1866 J.S. Randolph
1867 Walter B. McNeal
1868 Walter B. McNeal
1869 Thomas Parker
1870 *Not listed*
1871 T.J. Larison
1872 David Hummell
1873 R.B. Fryar
1874 R.B. Fryar
1875 Charles Phillips
1876 R.B. Fryar
1877 William J. Pettit
1878 Joseph Childs
1879 W.H. Beach
1880 Joseph Childs
1881 Patrick McCann
1882 Mark Storen
1883 Joseph Childs
1884 John Bushell
1885 John Bushell
During the time that the City Marshall was police administrator, the city had a police force consisting of four positions. The four positions were filled by appointment of the Mayor with the approval of the City Council. The four positions consisted of the following: one day time police officer, two night time officers, and one merchant’s police officer.
In 1886 the citizens of Lincoln approved a proposal in the general election which allowed the city to surrender the special charter, which the city had originally organized under. Thus the city was able to reorganize under the general law. One aspect of this change allowed the city to do away with the election of a City Marshall. The Mayor was then allowed to appoint a “Chief of Police” with the approval of the City Council. This practice currently used today.
The following is a list of Chief of Police for the City of Lincoln.
May 6-1886-June 8, 1893 John M. Bushell
June 9, 1893-May 9, 1895 John M. Mitchell
May 9, 1895-June 2, 1899 Henry M. Bushell
June 2, 1899-April 30, 1901 William Harper
April 30, 1901-May 2, 1904 James Moos
May 2, 1904-May 01, 1905 Thomas H. Madigan
May 1, 1905-May 6, 1907 Herman Reetz
May 6, 1907-August 5, 1907 Martin Dougherty
August 5, 1907-April 30, 1909 William J. Graver
April 30, 1909-May 5, 1913 W.W. Miller
May 5, 1913-May 3, 1915 John Tyne
May 3, 1915-June 1, 1918 Martin Dougherty
June 1, 1918-April 29, 1919 Otto Seitz
April 29, 1919-May 3, 1921 Martin Dougherty
May 3, 1921-May 7, 1923 Matthew Coogan
May 7, 1923-May 5, 1924 Paul Troeger
May 5, 1924-May 4, 1925 William Hopp
May 4, 1925-May 3, 1926 Guy Wyles
May 3, 1926-May 2, 1927 W.E. Williams
May 2, 1927-May 6, 1929 A.G. McAfee
June 6, 1929-June 1, 1931 James W. Wyse
June 1, 1931-June 5, 1933 Martin Dougherty
June 5, 1933-May 17,1937 Willard A. Comstock
May 17, 1937-April 3, 1938 J.A. Leininger
May 2, 1938-Dec.4, 1939 Willard Comstock
Dec. 4, 1939-May 1, 1941 Marshall Brannan
May 1, 1941-June 5, 1944 Martin Dougherty
June 5, 1944-May 7, 1945 William H. Unland
May 7, 1945-Nov. 1953 Marshall Downs
Nov. 2, 1953-Jan.1, 1970 Earl Minder
Dec.8, 1969-Oct.10, 1979 John Wodetzki
Oct.10, 1979-May 1, 1986 Robert Hahn
May 1, 1986-April 30, 1989 James Davis
May 1, 1989-May 30, 1997 Ronald Robbins
May 5, 1997-May 7, 2001 Richard Ludolph
May 7, 2001-Aug.15, 2004 Richard Montcalm
Aug.16, 2004-April 30, 2007 Robert Rawlins
May 1, 2007-March 15, 2010 Stuart Erlenbush
May 3, 2010-Present Ken Greenslate
Until 1870, Police were hired on a month by month basis and had to submit a monthly bill for services to the City Council to be paid. They could be, and often were, replaced when the month ended depending on the politics of the town at that time. They served as Constables as well as Town Marshalls. Often the officers were hired by the ward they lived in and served as policemen for their ward.
On April 21, 1870 the City Council passed an ordinance creating a Police Force. So that date is the official birthday of the Lincoln Police Department. The first Chief of Police was Lewis Rosenthal. He was appointed by the City Council by a 6-2 vote. He was dismissed on September 5, 1870 for failure to make a sufficient number of ordinance arrests. In order to force Rosenthal to resign his position, the City Council voted to lower his salary to one cent per month. He resigned October 3, 1870. The City Council then reverted back to the elected City Marshall system to replace the Chief of Police until a new chief could be named.
There were “night police” that were appointed by the City Council who served under the City Marshall’s Office. They worked only at night from 6:00pm to 6:00am, six nights per week. They were paid $35.00 per month. The Marshall and the Police Chief received $50.00 per month. Part of the night police duties were to light the gas street lamps at dark and extinguish them at sunrise.
The difference between the City Marshall’s Office and the Chief of Police was mainly administrative. The Chief commanded the police force and made ordinance arrests. The City Marshall worked as an officer of the City Court serving warrants and made felony arrests. He was also in charge of the night police. Later the night police came under the direction of the Chief of Police and the Marshall position was discontinued. The town merchants then hired their own watchmen, which became the “Merchant Police”, after the turn of the century.
Currently the same system exists today with the Mayor making the appointment of Chief of Police, which must be approved by a majority vote of the City Council. The current rank structure is as follows;
Chief of Police
Until February 2008, the “Assistant Chief” of Police was chosen by the Police and Fire Commission after candidates took a written test, and oral interview for the position. Only a Sergeant could test for that position and once appointed, could not be removed without just cause. In February 2008 the City Ordinance changed and the Chief of Police may appoint the newly titled position “Deputy Chief” with the approval of City Council. In February 2008, Michael Geriets was appointed Lincoln’s first Deputy Chief being appointed by Chief Stuart Erlenbush then reappointed under Chief Ken Greenslate in May 2010.
The Lincoln Police Department takes pride in being part of the many technological changes society has brought forth, assisting our agency to be innovative in pro-active policing, investigations, and enforcement, which are resulting in successful prosecutions of criminal offenders. These include the use of digital in car cameras, mobile data computers, use of mobile crash reporting system, which sends our accident reports from the squad car directly to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Use of New World Reporting system which integrates the Logan County Sheriff’s Department, Logan County Jail, and Lincoln Police Department’s information into one shared data base. This proves essential when investigating crimes that occur in Lincoln and outside the jurisdiction of city limits, providing accurate demographics for the research of crime, location, method of operation etc…
The Lincoln Police Department continues play an important role in educating our youth by teaching D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) in the grade schools, Lincoln Junior High, and Senior High School levels.