First Constable – The rank of “Constable” was created. This position was an elected position and at the Town of Chicago’s first election no constable is mentioned in connection with the election; but one was surely appointed or otherwise provided for is certain, for even under village organization there were constables.


Authorization – On January 31, 1835 The State of Illinois authorized the Town of Chicago to establish its own police force.

Chicago Police Department Organized – On August 15, 1835 The Chicago Police Department is born. Orsemus Morrison is elected Chicago’s first constable, assisted by Constables Luther Nichols and John Shrigley. The three-man police force serves and protects a population of about 3,200. The Police Department pre-dates Chicago as a city.

First High Constable Elected – At the August 15, 1835 town election Orsemus Morrison was elected the towns first “High Constable” and “Town Collector.”


Municipal Court Organized – The Municipal Court of Chicago was created. The court had co-jurisdiction with the Cook County Court within the corporate limits of the City of Chicago.

Chicago Incorporated – On March 4, 1837 Chicago is incorporated as a city. Morrison, Nichols and Shrigley continue to serve as the entire constabulary force.


The Chicago Police Department – During the period of 1838 thru 1854 the police department consisted of a very small collection of officers, constables and part-time night watchmen to serve and protect a quickly-expanding city.


Change in Rank Title – The title of “Head Constable” was abolished and became known as “City Marshall.” This change would become effective following the next municipal election in May of 1842.


First City Marshall – In May 1842 the first City Marshall, Orson Smith, is elected.


First Police Officer Killed in the Line of Duty – On December 5th, 1853 Constable of Police James Quinn became the first Officer killed in the line of duty.


Bridge Tenders as Special Police – On January 13th, 1854 Bridge Tenders were officially appointed as “Special Policemen.”


Major Reorganization – The Chicago Police Department undergoes a major reorganization under the direction of Captain Cyrus P. Bradley, who combines the day and night watches; increases the force by six times the number of officers; divides the City into three police divisions and three districts; and introduces a more professional, efficient command staff.

First Chief of Police – On May 26, 1855, Cyrus Bradley is appointed as Chief of Police and serves in that position until 1856. He would later introduce the Department motto: “At danger’s call, we’ll promptly fly; and bravely do or bravely die.”


Institution of a Uniform – The Chicago Police Department institutes an official uniform for its members. Prior to this members wore plain clothes.


Detective Department Organized – The Department organizes it’s first Detective Force.


A New Star is Adopted – On March 26, 1861 a new six point metal star, the 1861 Series Star, is introduced. Versions for the ranks and positions of Patrolman, Driver, Messenger, Patrol Driver, Roundsman, Sergeant and Lieutenant were created. Prior to this series of star a leather star worn on the hat was used. Following the leather star, a “plain brass star” was used. In addition to the police stars, Constable’s utilized an eight point metal star.

Entire Police Department Fired – On March 21st, 1861 Mayor John Wentworth summoned the entire police force to his office and fired them, leaving the city without police protection from 2:00 am until 10:00 a.m. the next morning. It was at this time, within a few hours, the new police board rehired most of the officers discharged by the Mayor and hired a considerable amount of new men.

City Marshall Abolished – The position of “City Marshall” was abolished and replaced by the “General Superintendent.”

First General Superintendent of Police – On May 1, 1861, Cyrus Bradley is appointed as General Superintendent of Police.


First Black Officer – James L. Shelton, the first black policeman was appointed and joined the force.

The Great Chicago Fire – On October 8th, 1871 The Great Chicago Fire destroys three and one half square miles, including almost all police facilities.


First Police Matrons – The first Police Matrons were hired. Police Matrons were female employees, but were not considered Police Officers.


Chicago Police Patrol and Signal System Introduced – The Chicago Police Patrol and Signal System is introduced. By installing booths equipped with telegraph units from which officers and prominent citizens could contact the closest police station, Chicago implements the first modern law enforcement communication system.

Patrol Wagons Introduced – The first Patrol Wagon was put into service.


Traffic Division Organized – The Chicago Police Department establishes the Traffic Division with 65 officers stationed at street crossings, bridges, tunnels and railroad crossings throughout the City.


The Haymarket Riot – On May 4, 1886 the most devastating day in Chicago Police Department history begins when a group of anarchists hold a demonstration in Haymaket Square. When several officers arrive to disperse the crowd, a bomb is thrown and explodes in the midst of the police. Eight officers die and 59 are wounded as a result of the bombing and ensuing gun battle between the police and anarchists.


A New Badge “Shield” is Adopted – An ordinance providing for a new badge of authority was brought before the city council on May 13, 1889 and was passed into law. A new appropriation for the cost of the new shield was not needed as the cost was saved from the previous years appropriation. 1500 shields were ordered at a cost of $1350.00. The new shield was first worn by police on April 15, 1889. However this design was short lived because the men on the force disliked the shape of the shield. They were more accustomed to the six point star. General Superintendent George W. Hubbard, at the time, made the following statement as to why the shape of the badge was changed:

“The old star badges were a confounded nuisance, in going through a crowd the points were sure to catch in something and either a rent torn in some one’s clothing or the star pulled off. The new badge is fastened so that it hangs flat and tight on the coat, and there are no awkward points in the way. Then there were about fifteen varieties of badges in the city. They were worn by employees of detective agencies, Coroners, Constables, Special Watchmen, and so on. Each of them was more or less like the police badge. They all number from one up, and when a policemen was reported by number we were not by any means sure whether it was the policeman. Now we have an ordinance making it a misdemeanor, with a heavy penalty, for any one to imitate or duplicate the new police badge. We had a good deal of trouble getting this one up; it was hard to avoid imitating somebody’s else badge, but I think we have not only a unique, but an artistic design.”


Ambulance Service Organized – The “Ambulance Service” began with a donation from Mrs. Ada Sweet, she provided funds for an ambulance that was stationed at the 1st Precinct located on Harrison Street. A CPD ambulance was simply a horse drawn patrol wagon equipped with a stretcher and bandages. The Officers assigned were trained by a Doctor in basic medical techniques.


Creation of New Rank Title – The rank of “Detective Sergeant” was created.


Mounted Police Force Organized – On September 14, 1906 the Department’s Mounted Police Force is created to provide traffic and crowd control, the unit was disbanded in 1948, but reestablished as the Mounted Patrol by popular demand on January 13, 1975.


New Hat Shield Adopted – The Department adopts a new hat shield. The design uses the newly adopted city seal and displays the officer’s star number below. Prior to the adoption of this hat shield, officers wore a wreath with the number of their Precinct affixed in the center.


First Police Automobiles – The automobile is introduced and the Department becomes motorized with the introduction of three squad cars.


Change in Rank Title – Under the command of General Superintendent LeRoy T. Steward, the ranks of “Desk Sergeant”, “Patrol Sergeant”, and “Detective Sergeant” were abolished and renamed plainly “Sergeant”, under a new ordinance that was passed. The aforementioned ranks were reinstated several times, but were abolished in 1909, 1917, and 1921.


Ambulance Service – The Ambulance Service was transferred back to the police department except for contagious disease cases.

First Police Motorcycles and Police Boats – The Department expands its motorized service by introducing its first Police Motorcycles and Police Boats to the Chicago River.

First Female Officers – On August 13, 1913 the Department appoints its first female officers as 10 women take the oath of office as Chicago police officers. Of this group, Alice Clement emerges as one of the most famous law enforcers in the nation.


The Eastland Disaster – On July 24, 1915 an employee group called the Hawthorne Club of Western Electric’s Hawthorne Works factory, located in Cicero, IL, chartered the S.S. Eastland for a sponsored excursion and picnic. The S.S. Eastland was one of five ships chartered for the excursion that morning. The others were the Theodore Roosevelt, the Petosky, the Maywood, and the Racine. The picnic was to be held in Michigan City, Indiana on the shores of Lake Michigan. The Eastland was the largest of the five ships and was the first scheduled to disembark at 7:30 a.m. Moored on the south bank of the Chicago River between LaSalle and Clark Streets, the Eastland’s ticket takers boarded some 2,500 passengers before raising the gangplank and directing people to the other steamers.

It was a calm Saturday morning with some drizzling rain as the passengers boarded the ship. Some 7,000 tickets were sold to employees for their family and friends for the picnic. The band was playing on a lower deck and passengers danced as the boat swayed back and forth. As the steamer was getting ready to disembark, reports from the time indicate that most of the passengers may have all gathered on the starboard side of the ship to pose for a photograph, thus creating an imbalance of weight on the ship. To compensate Engineer Joseph Erikson opened one of the ships ballast tanks in an attempt to stabilize the ship, and the Eastland began listing to port and then to starboard but seemed to right herself. Passengers were not concerned until she began listing to port again and things started to fall. Within two minutes the Eastland was resting on her port side on the floor of the Chicago River.

When the ship began to list to port for a second time, pandemonium broke out and people started screaming and jumping into the river, others tightly holding on to their children, and some were climbing over the deck railing to the side of the ship which had risen out of the water. At the time claims were made that the crew of the ship jumped onto the dock when they realized what was happening. The Eastland capsized right next to the dock in 20 feet of water, trapping hundreds of people on or underneath the large ship. A few managed to slip out of 18″ port-holes resting above the waterline. Bystanders were tossing items into the river hoping these would keep someone afloat. Rescuers quickly attempted to cut through the hull with torches, allowing them to rescue 40 people. Police divers pulled up body after body, causing one diver to break down in a rage. The city sent workers out with a large net to prevent bodies from washing out into the lake.

In the end 844 people perished including 22 entire families. Temporary morgues were setup and the task of identifying loved ones was overwhelming. Most of the corpses were taken to the Second Regiment Armory, which is now home to Harpo Studios. Some of the studio’s employees have claimed that the studio is haunted by ghosts of the Eastland disaster. Spouses were lost, children became orphans, and parents cried over the loss of their children. Some families rejoiced in the safe return of loved ones while mourning the loss of other family members. Many families lost their only source of income. The capsizing of the S.S. Eastland marked the greatest maritime loss of life in Chicago or the Great Lakes. As a result of the incident several lawsuits were filed. Court decisions blamed improperly weighted ballast tanks for the disaster. But transportation historian George W. Hilton argued in a 1995 book that the international reaction to the sinking of the Titanic three years earlier ultimately doomed the Eastland, which had almost capsized in 1904 with 2,370 people aboard. Due to the Titanic disaster a bill that required ships to have enough lifeboats for 75 percent of their passengers was passed into law. As required by the new law the owners of the Eastland, on July 2, 1915, added three lifeboats and six rafts, weighing 14 to 15 tons, to its top deck which further exacerbated the ships listing problems. Litigation lasted 20 years and in the end all lawsuits against the owners of the Eastland were thrown out by a court of appeals and the exact cause of the listing and subsequent disaster has never been determined.


Change in Rank Title – For the second time the ranks of “Desk Sergeant”, “Patrol Sergeant”, and “Detective Sergeant” were abolished and renamed plainly “Sergeant”, under a new ordinance that was passed. The aforementioned ranks were reinstated several times, but were abolished in 1909, 1917, and 1921.

Chicago Police Reserves Organized – On August 8, 1917 the Chicago Police Reserves were organized.

The Chicago Police Reserves were organized on a regimental basis, with eighteen companies divided into three battalions. Its membership ranged from 1,600 to almost 1,800 officers and men. The Reserve men attended weekly drill, where instruction was given in physical exercises, military drill, and police duties.

The Reserve was used instead of regular officers or to supplement them, as might be needed for Thrift parades, the Liberty Loan parades, and Memorial Day parades. They helped clear streets and fire hydrants of snow. During the influenza and pneumonia epidemic, the reserve worked nightly for two weeks in helping the regular police enforce health regulations.

On Armistice Day, they helped preserve order among the jubilant throngs who streamed into the loop. The Reserves were on duty to greet returning troops, and for the reception of General John Pershing upon his visit to Chicago.


First Black Female Officer – Grace Wilson, the first African American woman was appointed and joined the force. She is also quite possibly the first black female officer in United States history.


A Dangerous Era – More than 40 percent of all Chicago Police Officers killed in the line or performance of duty were killed during this era.


Chicago Police Reserves Disbanded – On August 22, 1920 the Chicago Police Reserves were disbanded because of the failure of the City Council to provide for their organization.


Change in Rank Title – For the third time the ranks of “Desk Sergeant”, “Patrol Sergeant”, and “Detective Sergeant” were abolished and renamed plainly “Sergeant”, under a new ordinance that was passed. The aforementioned ranks were reinstated several times, but were abolished in 1909, 1917, and 1921.


Change in Rank Title – The rank of “General Superintendent” was abolished and became known as “Commissioner.”


New Central Police Station and Courts Building – On January 30, 1925, the City Council passed an ordinance for the issuance of bonds to the amount of $2,500,000.00 to cover the erection of a modern central police station. This ordinance was approved by a referendum vote of the people on February 24, 1925. In 1928 the new Central Police Station and Courts building is opened at 1121 S. State Street.


First Crime Laboratory – On February 14, 1929 seven men were murdered in a Chicago north side garage. The investigation of the “Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre” results in the creation of the nation’s first crime laboratory, located at Northwestern University. The Chicago Police Department purchased the crime lab in 1938.

First High-Speed Police Boats – In 1929, the Chicago Police Department places its first high-speed police boat into service after its jurisdiction was extended to the three-mile limit in Lake Michigan.


Saint Jude Police League – The Saint Jude Police League is established as an active sponsor of charities and to support Chicago officers. During the 1950’s, the League initiated one of the Chicago Police Department’s finest traditions: the annual march held on the first Sunday of May to honor the memory of every honorable police officer who ever served, and particularly those who died in the performance of duty.


Chicago Park District Police Department Organized – On May 1st, 1934 the Chicago Park District Police Department is organized.

The Chicago Park District was a separate municipal entity whose territorial limits were co-terminus with those of the city of Chicago. The Chicago Park District Police Department’s jurisdiction covered 135 parks, including 12 bathing beaches, 42 outdoor swimming pools, numerous play fields and similar outdoor facilities, 85 field houses constituting year-round recreational centers, 2 floral conservatories, a zoo, and a variety of other attractions. The Park District Police had jurisdiction over 205 miles of Chicago’s Boulevards and over 28 miles of Lake Michigan’s shore line.

The Park District employed its own maintenance and operating staff, including a force of 639 police officers recruited by its own Civil Service Board and responsible for the enforcement of Park ordinances and State laws and for the preservation of peace and good order. The Division of Police operated nearly 100 two-man squad cars, each equipped with two-way radios, with central headquarters located in the Administration Building in Burnham Park. Because of the independent jurisdiction of the Park Commissioners, the Chicago Park District Police Department functioned separately from the Chicago Police Department, although the closest cooperation exists between the two.


Police “1313” Discontinued – The last year Police “1313”, a pre-curser to the now defunct Chicago Police Star Magazine, was published.


Innovative Unit – The Department established the Human Relations Section, the first of its kind in the nation, which has since developed into today’s Civil Rights Unit.


First Hispanic Officer is Killed in the Line of Duty – On October 8, 1953, Detective Oreste E. Gonzalez, Star #6362, was shot and killed by a man he was transporting in his squad car.


A New Star is Adopted – A new design is introduced and the Department began issuing a new star to each officer. This new star replaced the 1905 Series design, also known as the “Pie Plate” for the civil service ranks of Patrolman, Sergeant, Lieutenant and Captain.


Chicago Park District Police Department – On December 31, 1958 the Chicago Park District Police Department is disbanded and absorbed into the Chicago Police Department.


Change in Rank Title – The rank of “Commissioner” was abolished and became known as “Superintendent.”

First Civilian Superintendent Appointed – The Chicago Police Department’s first Civilian Superintendent, Orlando W. Wilson, is appointed by Mayor Richard J. Daley. O.W. Wilson, former dean of criminology at the University of California, is appointed Superintendent and greatly modernizes the Department. Wilson’s many changes include a new and innovative communications center, the reduction of police stations, a fairer promotion process, and an emphasis on motorized patrol over foot patrol. The Department’s look is also greatly changed, with blue-and-white squad cars replacing the old black-and-white ones, red mars lights instead of blue, and the introduction of a checkered hatband, brass name tags, and short-sleeve summer uniform shirts. Wilson also introduces the Department’s official motto, “We Serve and Protect.”


Cadet Program – On July 1, 1963 the Chicago Police Cadet Program was introduced.


Democratic National Convention (DNC) – From August 26, 1968 through August 29, 1968 the Democratic National Convention was held at the International Amphitheater which was located at 42nd and Halsted and has since been demolished. Several protesters arrive in Chicago with the express purpose of creating disturbances and disruption. Officers respond and clashes occur, leading to 668 arrests and negative media coverage for Chicago and the Department. There were 192 officers injured, of whom 49 required hospitalization. Fortunately, no one was killed.


Female Officers Assigned to Patrol Duties for the First Time – When they were first assigned to patrol duties, female Chicago Police Officers began wearing the same uniform as their male counterparts. Previously, female officers wore skirts and worked only specialized assignments.


First Women Patrol Specialists – The first two women Patrol Specialists are appointed. Patrolman Rosann Rommelfaenger assigned to the 12th district and Patrolman Kathy Kajari assigned to the 16th district.

Timothy J. O’Connor Training Academy – On October 12, 1976 the Timothy J. O’Connor Training Academy opens. The new Chicago Police Training Academy replaced the old one, located in the heart of the Maxwell Street market area at 720 West O’Brien Street.


First Black Superintendent – In August 1983 the Chicago Police Department’s first Black Superintendent, Fred Rice, is appointed by Chicago’s first Black Mayor Harold Washington.


First Female Officer is Killed in the Line of Duty – On January 25, 1984, Patrolman Dorelle C. Brandon, Star #2684, was shot and killed after a struggle with an offender.


First Hispanic Superintendent – In April 1992, The Chicago Police Department’s first Hispanic Superintendent, Matt L. Rodriguez, is appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley.


Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) – The Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) is introduced. Superintendent Matt L. Rodriguez introduces Chicago’s community policing program (CAPS) in five districts. The program is implemented in all police districts in 1994 and serves as a model for several community policing programs throughout the nation today.


Emergency Management and Communications Center (OEC) – On September 25, 1995 the Emergency Management and Communications Center opens. The new facility, known as the 9-1-1 Center, is located at 1400 W. Madison Street. The facility combines the 9-1-1 call-taking operation with emergency communication for police, fire and paramedics.


Headquarters Building – On June 3, 2000 the new Chicago Police Department Headquarters is opened at 3510 S. Michigan Avenue replacing an extremely aged and outdated building located at 1121 S. State Street.

Crime Reduction Strategy – To combat gangs, drugs and guns in Chicago, Superintendent Hillard introduces regular, weekly DOC and VICE meetings, under the direction of First Deputy Superintendent Philip J. Cline.

Office of Management Accountability (OMA) – The OMA is created by Superintendent Terry G. Hillard.


A New Star is Adopted – A new design is introduced and the Department began issuing a new star to each officer. This new star replaced the 1955 Series design for the civil service ranks of Patrolman, Detective, Sergeant, Lieutenant and Captain. With the introduction of this new star the rank of “Patrolman” was renamed “Police Officer.”


New Units Created – The Deployment Operations Center (DOC) and the Violence Initiative Strategy (VICE) were created.


Crime Reduction – Superintendent Philip J. Cline introduces several programs that result in a remarkable drop in the City’s homicide rate, He also reinstates the abolished Chicago Police Department Cadet Program as a recruitment tool.


Honored Star Case is Expanded – Superintendent Philip J. Cline expands the star case and honors several previously-forgotten Chicago Police Officers who were killed in the line/performance of duty, by enshrinement of their stars in the Honored Star Case.


Constable James Quinn – On March 2, 2010 Constable James Quinn, after 155 years, is finally recognized as the first Chicago Police Officer killed in the line of duty. His star is retired and enshrined in the Honored Star Case located in the lobby of Police Headquarters along with 10 other Officers.