|History of the Police Department|
The City of Monroe was incorporated in 1821, shortly after the formation of Walton County in 1818, as the county seat.
There is little information about those early days, it is assumed that the county Sheriff would have handled any law enforcement needs back in those days. According to the City Council minutes our first City Marshal, Mr. B.J. Matthews, was elected in 1897. A Deputy Marshal and a Nightwatchman were added several months later. The Marshal was paid $40 a month, and the Deputies were paid $35 a month. They were charged with enforcing the local ordinances and maintaining the "calaboose" (the city jail). At that time, the City Hall and Calaboose were located at the corner of Spring and Wayne Streets. The original building is still there today, with the jail door and window bars facing Wayne Street.
Around 1900 the Monroe Mill hired two "Special Police Officers" (Mr. C.F. McDonald and Mr. J.T. Kilgore) who were sworn in by the City to enforce local ordinace and work as security for the Mill and surrounding residences. They were not officially city employees as the Monroe Mill paid thier salary, but are considered some of the first city Law Enforcement Officers regardless.
By 1910, the City Council Minutes refer to a Police Chief and three Police Officers operating out of the City Jail. There was a Chief of Police and two to three officers on the city payroll from this time period into the 1940's.
The police department saw it's first motorized patrol vehicle in 1936, a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
In 1939 after construction of the City Hall on South Broad Street, the Police Department and City Jail were moved to this facility. The City Jail was shut down in the 1980's when all prisoners started to be housed at the County Jail. The Police Department was at this location from 1939 until 2006.
During World War 2, the city swore in an auxillary police force of over 30 additional men under the Civil Defense Act. This auxillary force was active in the war effort and assisted the community during Civil Defense drills.
Some time around or after WWII, the police department started to grow; adding manpower, motorized patrol cars and motorcycles. By the 1960's the department had grown to over 20 employees, including the first Black officer and the first Female officer ever hired in Walton County.
In 1977, the Monroe Police Department saw tragedy with the loss of it's first officer in the line of duty, Lt. Michael Etchinson Sr. Lt. Etchinson was the second Walton County law enforcment officer to give his life in the line of duty, preceeded by Walton County Sheriff "Doc" Sorrells in the late 1960's.
The police department saw much more growth and many more challenges throughout the 1980's and 1990's. In addition to manpower being constantly added, a focus started on improving the technology which the force used in fighting crime and protecting the city. Many advancements in forensics, investigative tools, computer technology, less lethal weapons, and police training made sweeping changes to the way a police officer performed their jobs during this time frame.
In May 2006 the Police Department moved to it's current headquarters in the old Milner-Aycock Building at 116 South Broad Street. That building was officially dedicated as the Michael Etchison Law Enforcement Center in 2008. The police department also completed all the requirements to become a State Certified law enforcement agency in 2008.
Unfortunately, there is very little documented history available about City Law Enforcement prior to 1897, and information is very sparse about the Police Department until the early 1960's.
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