History of Cuba City Police Department

A brief history of The City of Cuba City Police Department:

As one reads through the seemingly endless volumes of minutes of the Cuba City Common Council from years ago, one realizes more and more how things can change considerably over the years! The recorded history of the City of Cuba City dates back to December 15, 1891, at which time E.A. Gillham was the first Marshall, and James O. Laird was the first Constable. It appears that these positions of responsibility and public trust were highly esteemed and honored by area citizens, and what was started then "in olden days" has emerged into the present day Cuba City Police Department..

The duties of the Marshall varied immensely, including "securing the public health," "removing persons" who might be dangerous to the safety of the City's citizens, and "posting the various village ordinances in three of the most public places in the City." An entry in the minutes from November 1911 stated that, "The village Marshall shall be instructed to keep the walk and crossing clean." He was instructed to "keep all parties with roller skates and express wagons off all public sidewalks." He was also "instructed to order all owners of chickens to keep them in their own premises." The village Marshall was to regulate the building of bonfires and the use of stovepipes within the village of Cuba City. Even as late as 1972, the duties of the police officer included that he "would check the water level of the overhead storage tank at the power house and the reservoir water level at the North Well during the late shift, before going off duty." The term "public servant" certainly was appropriate in those early days.

The salary for Marshall was $50.00 per month, although one City official objected to that amount as being "too high." The Marshall could earn extra income in emergency situations, such as when the Marshall was awarded $2.00 for "watching the fire at James Harker's during the night." "Feeding tramps" earned $.50 each. In April of 1897, the Marshall fed 31 tramps during the month, receiving $15.50 reimbursement, which was about one-third of what he would normally earn for the month. The Marshall was also the "pound-master," for which he was financially reimbursed, including $.50 for each stray dog that he "disposed of."

The Marshall's salary was raised to $75.00/month in 1919. In the minutes of May, 1928, the title "Chief of Police" is first used, replacing the term "Marshall." The minutes are not clear on this, but it seems that when this title was changed, the City purchased a coat and cap for the Chief, perhaps in honor and celebration of the new position. A badge was ordered in 1935 for $1.04, from W.S. Darley and Company.

In 1943, the Chief of Police was also appointed "Street Commissioner," which increased his salary another $25.00 per month.

Cuba City employed night watchmen in the earlier days. The night watchman could earn extra income, as in the case of Russel W Gibson who was paid "$1.50 for painting the curb" and "$1.50 for painting the stop sign." Night watchmen were considered Special Police "with full power of arrest." The position of night watchman was discontinued in 1946, and the title "Constable" was officially "eliminated" as late as May, 1978.

Initially, the Police Department had its office in the front part of the building known as City Hall. In 1980, the department office was moved towards the back of the building. The police officers found themselves cramped for space when doing paperwork, filing, and storing evidence and miscellaneous items. Plans were in progress in 1995, to renovate the existing building, to where the Police Department Office is enlarged to over double its present capacity, providing good work space and room for files, storage, etc.

In 1996 the Police Department moved into the newly renovated City Hall with the much needed space. This new facility is admired by many other area law enforcement agencies. The agencies staff has fluctuated through the years with a current staff of 4 full-time officers and 1 full-time civilian. The duties of the current staff are constantly stressed buy the increases in public need. Never-the-less the agency strives to present itself with the same caring concern that we are known for.