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A History of the Decatur Police Department

 Pre-1982 Police Department
 The police department shown at its pre-1982 City Hall location
The first mention of law enforcement in the City comes from written records of City Council meetings. They show that in September 1891, two watchmen, afterwards called Marshals, were given arrest powers.

1892: The Marshals were required to wear uniforms and authorized to carry pistols. A police officer was hired to assist them. At that time, Decatur's population was about 3,000. The streets were unpaved and there were no city conveniences except electric lights.

1896: A Marshal's salary was $40 per month.

1910: The Marshal's salary increased to $85 per month. M.D. Googer was elected Marshal.

1914: The Police Chief and Night Police Officer were elected positions. At this time the Marshal and Chief of Police positions were combined.

1915: M.D. Googer was elected Marshal, as well as Police Chief, Fire Chief and head of the Sanitation Department. His salary for all of these titles was $100 per month.

1916: B.M. Tribble was elected Marshal. The first speed limits were posted and the police began to enforce them. The Chief was authorized to employ a person with a motorcycle to help enforce the speed limits.

1922: George S. Swords joined the Department.

1922-24: Many of the officers also worked as firemen, truck drivers for the Sanitation Department, meter readers and water bill deliverers. There was only one car - the Fire Chief's. Police officers used it at night and Mr. Guy Hudson of the Water Department used it during the day. The vehicle was a Dodge Roadster, single seat, with canvas top and side curtains, no heater, no radio contact, no signs on its sides, and no red light or siren.

1927: M.D. Googer was Police Chief, Fire Chief, head of the Sanitation Department and in charge of the Cemetery.

1928: The first closed car was used, a four-cylinder model that was one of the first to have a Bendix starter.

At that time, two men worked the day shift, starting at 6 a.m. The first duty was the traffic crossing at the high school. Then they walked in full dress uniform to Oakhurst and Poplar Springs (the Fifth Avenue area). They were back at the railroad depot by 4:30 p.m., where they worked traffic until 6 p.m. Then they walked to City Hall to be relieved of duty by the night officers.

When the night patrol started, and throughout the night, a light in the alley at the City Hall was used as a signal to the officers. When the light was turned on, it meant they should come in and take a call.

1931: Police Chief M.D. Googer died and was succeeded by Chief George S. Swords.

1933: The Department gained eight men on eight-hour shifts, with two police cars and a motorcycle.

1934: Luther Spinks joined the police force. Decatur's population had grown to 8,000. Spinks owned a horse named Charlie that he rode on duty on Saturdays. Charlie would turn and switch his tail to edge pedestrians back on the sidewalk whenever they tried to cross against the red light.

1947: Chief George S. Swords retired. Luther Spinks became Chief and served in this position for 20 years. Under his direction, the department grew to 32 men, and was equipped with five marked patrol cars with radios, red lights, and sirens. Chief Spinks took great pride in the training of his men and held several in-service schools conducted by the F.B.I. and other law enforcement agencies.

 1959 Police Dept personnel
 Police Department personnel and patrol cars in 1957
Two women were hired as "Meter Maids" to enforce parking laws.

1962: Decatur averaged only one serious crime every 67 hours and was praised by F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover as being one of the top cities in the nation in terms of low crime rate.

1963: Detective Lee A. Cole Jr. was appointed Decatur's first Juvenile Officer.

1964: Two African-American police officers were hired. Detective Cole was promoted to Lieutenant. Chief Spinks was named to head the fourth district of the Peace Officers Association of Georgia.

1965: The Decatur Police Department was among fifty police agencies that organized Metropol. When a Metropol teletype machine was installed in the office, Cole, now Assistant Chief, and Senior Desk Clerk James Maddox Sr. were the first to witness a message coming through. Capt. B.F. Wilkins conducted a Driver Refresher Course at the Old Courthouse for citizens of Decatur and DeKalb County.

1966: Decatur was in its fourth year without a traffic death. Officer Z. Wyatt Fowler was named Best Officer in the State of Georgia by the Petroleum Council and the Peace Officers Association of Georgia.

1967: Decatur police officers made 7,000 arrests. Only 5% were for felonies.

1968: Chief Spinks retired and was succeeded by Lee Cole.

1969: Chief Cole instituted an in-service training school in which officers studied police courtesy, public relations and many other subjects. Retired Chief Luther Spinks died.

1976: Decatur reported a 5.8% decline in violent and property crime over the previous year.

1978: Chief Cole was named Outstanding Chief at the 11th training conference of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police in Gainesville. The City's first bank robbery occurred at Fidelity National Bank.

1985: The Department of Public Safety was created and the Police and Fire Departments became divisions within it. Richard Bond was appointed Public Safety Director.

1990: Sherrard White was promoted from Fire Chief to Deputy Director of Public Safety.

1993: White succeeded Bond as Director of Public Safety.

2002: Director White retired after more than 30 years of service to the city. Deputy Director Rutledge was promoted to Public Safety Director.

2003: Leander Robinson became Chief of Police. Chief Robinson served until June of 2006.

2006: Mike Booker was promoted to the position of Police Chief. Chief Booker joined the police department in 1990 and served in various positions and ranks prior to being named Chief.

Officers Killed in the Line of Duty:

1887: J. E. Hurst was the first law officer to lose his life in the line of duty in Decatur.

1919 or 1920: Officer A.C. Ford was killed. No details are known.

1971: Lt. Billy Cowart was killed during a routine traffic stop. His killer was captured in Atlanta after a vehicle pursuit with the Atlanta Police Department.