Indianapolis Police Department

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Indianapolis Police Department
IN - Indianapolis Police.png
MottoIntegrity Pride Dedication
Agency overview
FormedSeptember 1, 1854
DissolvedDecember 31, 2006
Superseding agencyIndianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
Employees1,650 (2006)
Volunteers100 (2006)
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionIndianapolis, Indiana, United States
Legal jurisdictionCity of Indianapolis, Indiana
Governing bodyIndianapolis City-County Council
General nature
Headquarters50 North Alabama Street
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Sworn Officers/Reserves1,250/60 (2006)
Non-Sworn Employees250 (2006)
Elected officer responsible
Agency executive
  • Michael T. Spears, Chief of Police
LockupsMarion County Arrestee Processing Center
Patrol cars1,600
Official site
Information is at the time the agency was dissolved.

The Indianapolis Police Department (IPD) (September 1, 1854 – December 31, 2006) was the principal law enforcement agency of Indianapolis, Indiana, under the jurisdiction of the Mayor of Indianapolis and Director of Public Safety. Prior to the consolidation with the Law Enforcement Division of the Marion County Sheriff's Department to form the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, 1,230 sworn police officers and 250 non-sworn personnel were employed by the department.[1]


At the time the agency was dissolved, the Indianapolis Police Department had 1,196 sworn police officers and 30 reserve police officers. At that time the agency was headed by Michael T. Spears, chief of police; Robert Turner, director of public safety; and Bart Peterson, mayor of Indianapolis.

Patrol districts[edit]

  • North District - Adam Sector - 4209 N College Ave.
  • East District - Boy Sector - 3120 E 30th St.
  • South District - Charles Sector - 1150 Shelby St.
  • West District - David Sector - 551 N. King Ave.
  • Downtown District - Edward Sector - 25 W 9th St.

Rank structure[edit]

There were five police districts, each led by a deputy chief. Deputy chiefs reported to assistant chiefs, assistant chiefs reported to the chief of police, and the chief of police was subject to the authority of the mayor.[citation needed]

Police ranks[edit]

Title[2] Insignia
Chief of Police
2 Gold Stars.svg
Assistant Chief
1 Gold Star.svg
Deputy Chief
Colonel Gold-vector.svg
US-O4 insignia.svg
Captain insignia gold.svg
US-O1 insignia.svg
NYPD Sergeant Stripes.svg
Probationary Officer
Recruit Officer


The first officers for the department were identified only by a silver star. The police were put into uniforms in July 1862, consisting of a dark blue coat, light blue trousers with a cord along the seam, and a blue cap.[3]

Over the years the department's uniform underwent several changes. Prior to the merger in 2007, officers were required to maintain both summer and winter uniforms as well as authorized leather goods. Patrol officer badges were silver, while those for sergeants and above were gold. The uniform for all ranks was navy blue. When in dress uniform officers wore a peaked cap adorned with a cap badge.[1]


Early days[edit]

In September 1854, thirty-three years after the city of Indianapolis was founded, Mayor James McCready appointed 14 men to the first police force, under the command of Captain Jefferson Springsteen. Prior to 1854, peace in Indianapolis had been maintained by a town marshal, the sheriff and a few deputies, a volunteer night watch, and a small number of constables and justices of the peace.[citation needed]

During the summer of 1855, as police officers attempted to enforce the recently enacted prohibition laws, they were met with resistance and a riot broke out on East Washington Street. When gunfire erupted from the police ranks, several citizens were wounded. Due in part to this incident and in part to the expense of maintaining the police force, the ordinance creating the police force was repealed on December 17, 1855.[citation needed]

Early the following year, a second force of ten men, under Captain Jesse Van Blaricum, was created. Under hostile political party action, this force was disbanded in May. May 1857 saw a change of party power, and another police force of seven men, under Captain A. mD. Rose, was created. after this rebirth, the Indianapolis Police Department was able to survive and grow.[citation needed]

A growing department[edit]

IPD Chevrolet Impala

The file above's purpose is being discussed and/or is being considered for deletion. See files for discussion to help reach a consensus on what to do.

In 1862, officers began their first "day work". Up to this time, all police assignments had been conducted at night. Police districts were established by ordinance in March 1864, and by 1865 the department consisted of a chief, two lieutenants, nine day and eighteen night patrolmen, two detectives, and sixteen specials. By 1900, with the city's population nearly 170,000, the size of the force had increased to 166.

The department began to supplement its sworn strength with non-sworn employees during the 1950s, shifting sworn officers from administration to direct law enforcement and assigning non-sworn employees to the administrative posts. In the early 1990s, the department expanded the role of non-sworn employees with the creation of non-sworn, uniformed public safety officers who perform the functions of evidence collection, accident investigations, and prisoner transportation.

By 2006, approximately 1,200 sworn and 350 non-sworn personnel were employed by the department.[citation needed]

Housing the department[edit]

The exact location of the original police station is uncertain. Records suggest that an early station was situated at the southeast corner of 200 North Alabama Street. A high wall surrounded the building, which is said to have been almost hidden from the view of the passerby. In the 1870s the department moved to a new headquarters at 51 South Alabama Street, where it remained until the current City-County Building was built in 1961.[citation needed]

Maintaining its central headquarters in the East Wing of the City-County Building at 50 North Alabama, the department also made a commitment to decentralized, community-based policing. Consequently, during the mid-1980s and 1990s neighborhood district headquarters were established at several locations:

  • North District, 4209 North College Avenue, opened July 14, 1989
  • East District, 3120 East 30th Street, opened May 15, 1990
  • South District, 1150 South Shelby Street, opened May 4, 1995
  • West District, 551 North King Avenue, opened April 16, 1991
  • Downtown District, 209 East St. Joseph Street, opened April 1995 (since relocated to 25 West 9th Street)

Mobilizing the department[edit]

The first IPD officers walked their beats, which at the time covered little territory. Some officers rode in buggies and others rode velocipedes. The bicycle was introduced as a means of transportation in 1897 and was used for "hot" runs. Officers assigned to the bicycle units were known as the "Flying Squadron". Horse patrols also were implemented around the turn of the century, and motorcycle patrols were employed from 1909.[citation needed]

The first police emergency automobile was pioneered in 1904. The new car was a "steamer", and it was essential that a pilot flame, which kept up sufficient steam to move the car, be kept burning constantly. In 1912, the department obtained two high-powered Packards that could get to the scene of problems quickly. By 1929, the department owned about sixty automobiles.[citation needed]

When needed, the department's first officers commandeered private wagons or conveyed drunks to the station in a wheelbarrow. In 1883, the department obtained two horse-drawn carts for use as wagons. In 1906, motorized trucks replaced the horse-drawn wagons.[citation needed]

In the face of general civil disorder connected with the Indianapolis Streetcar Strike of 1913, many officers refused to follow orders. This is sometimes called the Indianapolis Police Mutiny.[citation needed]

The 2006 fleet was equipped with more than 1400 cars, 45 motorcycles, and 12 prisoner wagons. In addition, formerly discontinued horse and bicycle patrols had been reinstituted in 1983 and 1991, respectively.[citation needed]

As with other big-city departments, detectives are not considered ranking officers, but rather officers assigned to specialized units, including violent crimes, robbery, gang and narcotics, etc.[citation needed]

Women on the department[edit]

On June 16, 1918, at a special meeting of the Board of Public Safety, thirteen policewomen and a women police sergeant were appointed to the Indianapolis Police Department. Emma Christy Baker (1865–1955), the first African American woman appointed as an IPD officer, and Mary Mays, another other African American, were among the original group of policewomen. Baker, Mays, and police sergeant Clara Burnside were the city’s first policewomen to work outside the police station, patrolling public areas in downtown Indianapolis. These early female police officers carried badges and earned the same pay as male police officers, but they were unarmed and wore civilian clothes while on duty.[4]

The policewomen patrolled the city's dance halls, movie houses, bars, and restaurants. By 1920, sixteen women dealt with shoplifters, runaways, and young girls on the streets. By 1939, the number of policewomen had declined to fourteen who worked only as matrons, clerks, or telephone operators. With World War II came a shortage of manpower and the department saw an increase in the number of women employed. In November 1943, two armed, uniformed policewomen were assigned to traffic posts on Monument Circle. By 1947 there were twenty-six women on the department, six of whom worked on the street.[citation needed]

The Indianapolis Police Department became the first police department in the United States to assign policewomen to patrol cars when Officers Elizabeth Robinson and Betty Blankenship were assigned Car 47 in September 1968. On June 8, 1976, Officer Penny Davis, a veteran of the force, became the first woman assigned to the Investigations Division. In January 1992, Davis became the first woman to hold the rank of Deputy Chief. Two years later, Patricia Holman became the first African-American female Deputy Chief. Deborah Saunders was appointed to the rank of Assistant Chief in 1999.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Indianapolis Police Department History". Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Bodenhamer, David J., and Robert G. Barrows, eds. (1994). The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. p. 798. ISBN 0-253-31222-1.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Baker primarily worked undercover, arresting shoplifters and covering petty theft detail. She later worked in the Juvenile Court’s probation department and as a matron in the city jail before retiring from the police force in 1939. See:"Emma Christy Baker" (PDF). Writing Her Story. Indiana Commission for Women. Retrieved March 18, 2019. See also: Abigail Bragg. "Emma Christie Baker". Discover Indiana. Public History Program, Indiana University–Purdue University at Indianapolis. Retrieved March 18, 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Sulgrove, B.R. History of Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co., 1884.
  • Bodenhamer, David J., ed. The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1994.
  • Clipping file, Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library. S.v., Indianapolis Police Department.