THE BIRTH OF A POLICE DEPARTMENT
The Quincy Police Department was organized sometime between 1823 and 1838. It consisted of one official known as the town Marshall, who was elected annually. The Town Marshall was paid a salary of $400.00 annually, plus 7% of all taxes and fines collected.
In 1860, the Town Council assigned the Marshall full responsibility of town patrol. All citizens were relieved of patrol duties in return for a $2.00 fee to hire a replacement. In 1866 Town Marshall Jesse Dickson was shot and killed while he and a posse attempted to arrest several men who were creating a disturbance in Quincy. The suspects opened fire on the posse, killing Marshall Dickson. Five of the suspects were convicted of his murder and hung in Quincy five months later. In 1876, the Town Council passed an ordinance, requiring that the Town Marshall wear a badge, indicating his authority. Prior to this time, no badge or uniform was required.
On May 31, 1897, at a called meeting of the Town Council, a Police Department was created for the first time in history for the City of Quincy. The Town Council hired a night watchman at a salary of $35.00 per month, with the understanding that the Mayor clothe this Watchman with police authority. The Night Watchman was to assist the Town Marshall in enforcing all laws and regulations, as well as collecting taxes and inspecting privies. The single Night Watchman was given a uniform and eventually an automobile.
An ordinance (#107) was passed, February 08, 1899, indicating the Town Marshall's duties as to report to work at 7:00 a.m. and work until 8:00 p.m. Upon reporting to work, he would patrol the business district, inspect all streets, private lots, and privies. He would also be responsible for all city tools and the street repair crew.
On April 03, 1900, the Town Marshall was re-titled to become Quincy's first Chief of Police. Along with his title, he was allowed to hire two regular police officers. Duncan Sullivan and W. Powell. In 1921, the Town Council allowed Police Chief Clyde Roberts to open a shooting.
Through the years, the Quincy Police Department continued to grow. Chief J.W. Haire was hired around 1948 as a police officer and was later promoted to Chief of Police
On July 01, 1963, the Police and Fire Departments combined and the Department of public Safety was created. City Manager Harbert Gregory appointed Chief Haire as Director of the Department of public Safety. The Fire Chief, Woodrow McPherson was named as Assistant to the Director. When the Department of Public Safety first formed, there were a total of 21 full time personnel.
Chief Haire served as the Director of Public Safety from 1963 to 1965. Chief R.D. Edwards took over as the Director of Public Safety in 1965. Prior to his appointment as Director of Public Safety, Chief Edwards worked for the city 18 years. Chief Edwards served as the Assistant Police Chief under Chief Haire, and when the Director of Public Safety was first formed, he became a Public Safety Captain. Chief Edwards served as the Director of Public Safety for another 18 years, until his retirement in 1979.
In 1979, E.M Spooner took over as the Director of Public Safety. At the time of his appointment, the Public Safety Department employed 38 sworn personnel, 12 being state certified firemen. There were also 8 civilian employees ranging from a custodian to communication personnel. As the Director of Public Safety, Chief Spooner oversaw both police and fire operations. To assist him with this complex task. Chief Spooner, for the first time in the history of the Quincy Police Department and the Department of Public Safety, created two Major positions. One Major oversaw police operations and the other fire operations.
During the period of 1979 to 1988, the Department of Public Safety had a high turnover and attrition rate. During this period, 93 employees were hired and 56 either resigned or were terminated. This was partly due to the other major agencies and state institutions being so close by.
The starting salary of a Public Safety officer was 14,400.00. Other law enforcement agencies, particularly in Tallahassee, Fl as well as State agencies, paid their starting officers well above what a Public Safety officer made. Because of this, the City of Quincy conducted a study. Several recommendations were made by experts and followed by the city. This lead to many improvements for the Department of Public Safety, as well as increased salaries for the officers.
Chief Spooner retired as the Director of Public Safety in 1991, to take a seat on the Florida Parole Commission.
After his retirement, 1991 saw many changes for the Department of Public Safety. Major R.E. Griswold was appointed interim Chief of police and Major R.E. Joyner was appointed interim Fire Chief.
For the first time in 28 years, there were two separate chiefs. Later in 1991, interim Chief of Police, R.E. Griswold was appointed full time Chief of Police and interim Fire Chief, R.E. Joyner was appointed full time Fire Chief.
Over the next couple of years, the Public Safety concept began to fade. Officers were no longer required to perform both fire and police duties. The number of employees continued to grow and the building housing the police department was no longer adequate.
In 1994, the police division moved to its newly renovated building. The once Post Office is now the home of the Quincy Police Department.
Under the direction of Chief Griswold, the Quincy police Department went through many changes and improvements. The department was divided into several different divisions. These divisions are administration, patrol, investigations, personnel and training, crime scene, traffic enforcement, public relations, communications, animal control, community services, school crossing, bike patrol and records.
In 1999 Chief Griswold retired from the department and R.S. Moore was hired to replace him. Chief Moore served as police from 1999 to 2003 as police chief.
In 2003 Captain G.W. McSwain was appointed to the rank of chief, Chief McSwain started with the department in 1978 as a patrolman and moved thru the ranks of the department. Chief McSwain served as police from 2003 to 2008 as police chief.