Historical Facts of the Buckhannon City Police
Records of the City of Buckhannon date back to the year 1853 in the form of City Council minutes. Although the city wasn’t officially chartered by the state until the 1930s, the town still kept record of events, including that of the police. The title of Chief of Police can be traced back through these records to the early 1900s. Prior to this time, dating back clear to 1853, this title was known as Town Sergeant. The Chief of Police evolved from this position by the early 1900s and has been referred to as such ever since.
Records of a regular standing police force are sketchy. At the time of the Town Sergeant, there was little to no mention of any other officer other than the Town Sergeant. At different points throughout the period 1853 – 1920s, there was mention of individuals being employed by the City as “special police” on a temporary basis, however. According to the records, these individuals were “qualified” and served in the temporary capacity as an aide to the Town Sergeant. Other than that, the strongest evidence of a regular force isn’t found until around the mid-1900s when the Police Civil Service took effect in the City of Buckhannon.
Other facts in Buckhannon Police history:
Between the years 1900 – 1903, the City of Buckhannon was effectively split into two towns – Buckhannon and South Buckhannon. During this time the town of South Buckhannon kept records as well, and in these there is evidence of a jail existing there.
Prior to the County Communications Center, City Hall would dispatch calls to the City Police. During this time period, foot patrol was a popular means of policing in town. When an officer would get a call, City Hall would activate a light affixed to the street lights on Main Street, alerting the officer to return to the station at City Hall and take the call. This method of communication was used as late as the 1960s. Before the replacement of the traffic lights on Main Street in the mid-2000s, these “communication lights” could still be seen.
The mayor was responsible for holding court on violations of all city ordinances until the late 1980s. After that, the municipal court was established and a regular municipal judge was appointed by the mayor to fulfill these obligations.
In 1940, Buckhannon Officer Wilbur Grubb was murdered on Camden Avenue while responding to a call of an assault and attempted rape. This is the only evidence found of a Buckhannon policeman ever being killed in the line of duty. Please see the Memorial page of this website for more information.