Department History

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has seen many changes since its inception 200 years ago. What started as a four man militia in 1808 has grown to a force of more than 1200 officers today. We invite you to explore our storied history.

Historical Milestones

1808- First Police Force Organized

1846- Major reorganization of the police force takes place. The “Department of Police” is established.

1861- A Police Board with members appointed by the Governor is established. The Board has control over the Department. As a result of this structure, 1861 is considered the start of the modern Saint Louis Police Department.

1866- The Department increases in size to 225 officers as the population of St. Louis grows to more than 200,000.

1867- First Mounted Patrol Unit is established.

1869- First Police School of Instruction begins in St. Louis.

1881- The first police telephone system was installed. This allowed officers in the districts to connect to each other and to headquarters.

1901- First African American Officers hired.

1903- First Police Car was manufactured by the Dorris Motor Car Company.

1923- Present Police Badge adopted.

1929- Current Police Headquarters building opened.

1960- Department reorganized into present day nine district/3-area structure.

1968- First air conditioned patrol cars.

1973- First female police commissioner serves on Board of Police Commissioners and first female officer promoted to rank of Sergeant.

1987- First female promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.

1991- First African-American Police Chief appointed.

1993- First Female promoted to rank of Captain.

2005- The Department unveils a 40,000 square foot laboratory with the latest technology in crime scene evidence analysis.

2009- First female promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

For a complete history of the Department, visit the The Updated History for Website (PDF).

Officer Memorial
Since 1863, 164 officers have lost their lives in service to the City of St. Louis. The Officer Memorial honors those who have given the ultimate sacrifice while in the line of duty.

To read more about these heroes, visit the Officer Memorial page.