Police Department History

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In the Beginning

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Olathe City Hall, pre 1940s

The police and fire entrance

was by the large garage door.

The City of Olathe was incorporated when Kansas was a territory in 1857. Olathe was re-incorporated in 1861 when Kansas became a state. City government minutes began on March 19, 1870. City ordinances began on May 4, 1881. City government minutes and ordinances were recorded and through time, many records were lost or destroyed. City government documents are currently stored in a vault at Olathe City Hall.

City Police Department

The first record to establish a city police department is found in the April 7, 1870 city government minutes. Jiles H. Milhoan was elected City Marshal with a town census of 2,045 people. 

Some of the earliest laws recorded by ordinance were to:

  • Prevent and prohibit drunkenness.
  • Relative to fines and imprisonment
  • Regulating the sale of intoxicating liquors.
  • Relating to assault and battery.
  • Regulating the license for billiard tables.
  • Prohibiting the carrying of deadly weapons.
  • Preventing fast driving on streets, bridges, etc. 
  • Preventing disturbances of the peace and preserving order in the City of Olathe.
  • Prohibiting the tying of jacks and stallions in the public square. 
  • Relative to vagrants.
  • Regulating the fees of the City Marshal and providing for the appointment of a Deputy City Marshal.

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The Olathe Police Department was located in the basement level at City Hall, 100 W. Santa Fe St., from 1974 to 1983.
The picture was taken September 1979 for the Johnson County Old Settler’s celebration.

On January 12, 1882, an ordinance was passed which outlined more responsibilities of the Marshal, to include adopting the name of night policeman, pound master and fireman.

“The Marshal shall be allowed a salary of $50.00 a month and shall act as night policeman from dark to daylight. He shall be allowed 50 cents for killing and burying dogs and 50 cents each for boarding prisoners and 25 cents per meal. The Marshal shall be in charge of the engine house, see that everything is kept in good order, make a thorough inspection of the engine and hook and ladder and see that everything is in perfect readiness in case of fire, at least once a month. When prisoners are put to work on the street, the Marshal shall have power when he deems it necessary to securely fasten a ball and chain or hobble to the leg of each prisoner.”

As the city developed, so did the responsibilities of the Marshal. Ordinances in 1891 prohibiting loitering, loafing and unlawful assemblies on the streets, sidewalks and other places; prohibited gambling within Olathe city limits; and prohibited the use of “bee stingers and slings, throwing upon public places, streets and alleys, riding velocipedes upon sidewalks, discharging firearms and ball playing within certain limits of the city of Olathe.”

In 1895 diphtheria was reported within the city limits.
“The City Marshal shall assist in every way possible to enforce ordinance 521 by placing notices on infected houses when requested to do so by the Board of Health; to see that said notices remain up and not taken down until authorized by the Board of Health; to see that such houses are strictly quarantined; and that inmates of such houses do not mingle with the public until they have a permit to do so from the Board of Health.”

Ordinance 575 was passed on April 22, 1897.
“prohibiting boys and girls under the age of 16 from idling or playing upon the streets and alleys of the city after 9:00 P.M. during the months of April through September, and after the hour of 8:00 P.M. during the months of October through March, unless accompanied by father, mother or guardian. Violators will be guilty of a nuisance and upon conviction shall be fined not to exceed $10.”

On July 19, 1909 the City Council passed a resolution which read in part: 
"Whereas there has been placed in said public square...certain gas lamps for the purpose of lighting and beautifying the same, and whereas said property is constantly exposed to injury and destruction by certain ill disposed persons and boys, and whereas it is necessary some person...should have charge in caring for and lighting said lamps daily; therefore, be it resolved that the city marshal shall care for and protect said property from injury and light said gas lamps daily...as directed by the council or park board, and turn out said lights by daylight every morning."

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Olathe Police Car, 1960s

Police Equipment

January 12, 1911 was the first typewritten city government minutes. Soon thereafter, a city marshal star, four police stars, and one pair of handcuffs were purchased from J. E. Levi for the sum of $9.  The purchase of an electric searchlight was authorized for $2. 
On October 17, 1921 a purchase was authorized of two riot guns at $35 each, and 100 buck shot shells from the Grange store. 
May 23, 1938 a “20 gauge billy and 410 pen with gas shells was authorized to be purchased for the police department for $30.00.”
A police car was purchased from Starmer Chevrolet Co. on June 12, 1950 and on November 7, 1958, new radar equipment was purchased.

Police Training

The first mention of training for a marshal was recorded in the city government minutes, of September 12, 1938, when he was sent to “police school in Wichita on October 4 to 6”.
On May 9, 1955, “David Seager, Olathe City Police, is approved to attend the 9th Annual Peace Officers Training School at Kansas University from July 25 to July 30. Room and board for five days is $34, paid by the City of Olathe”.  
The first “police school” was February 9, 1959, when Chief Clinton E. Smith was allowed to use the Olathe Council Chamber for four days.

Olathe Police Department

On October 13, 1952, Ordinance #731A created the office and department of Superintendent of Police. 
“The full time monthly salary of the Superintendent shall be $250. He shall be vested with all powers now covering policemen and city marshals, shall be the chief law enforcing officer of the city and shall take his orders and directions from the Mayor. He shall serve at the pleasure of the Mayor, and shall be responsible to supervise all policemen hired by the city, including the Chief of Police, and shall organize said department in such manner as to promote an efficient system of police for said city of Olathe. He shall recommend to the Mayor and governing body for their action and the appointment of any new policemen herein after employed. He shall further coordinate all police activities between the Olathe Police Department and all other law enforcing agencies, whether county, state, or federal government. He shall assist and promote traffic regulations by school patrol and any other organization assisting therein, supervise the filing of all investigation reports and attend all session of the Police Court of Olathe, or be assigned any other duty or responsibility that may be deemed advisable to the best interest of the welfare of law and order in the city of Olathe. Mayor Squire appoints E. B. Pitt as Superintendent and Bert Huggins as regular full time policeman.”
The position was repealed on December 12, 1955.

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City Hall Dispatch Center
Sgt. Dave Trebra and Officer McMillin

Police Dispatch

Doris Dooley was the first dispatcher in 1959 when the city got its own police radio system.
The Police Dispatch Center was once located in the basement of City Hall, 100 W. Santa Fe St.

Police Canine Unit

The Olathe Police Department (OPD) implemented a patrol canine program in 1995 with three dual purpose canines. In 1997 OPD added a fourth narcotic detector canine. In 2005, the narcotic detection canine was replaced with a dual purpose canine. The program has assisted in the apprehension of numerous violent criminal suspects and located illegal narcotics with street values in the millions.

Police Traffic Unit

The Olathe Traffic Unit was created in 1997 to handle the growing traffic safety needs of Olathe.  The unit consists of two supervisors, five enforcement motorcycles, nine accident investigation cars, including two full time commercial truck inspectors and a civilian parking enforcement officer.

Every officer in the unit is required to attend Advanced Accident Investigation School, Forensic Mapping School, and a Child Safety Seat Technician course.  They are also required to be certified in the use of Doppler radar and Lidar systems. The unit maintains two officers certified in accident reconstruction.

Women Police Officers

The first female patrol officer, Victoria J. (Kish) Smith was hired Jan. 15, 1980.
The first female Tactical Support Unit officer was Jennifer Morgan assigned to the unit in May, 1998.

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Police Honor Guard

The first Olathe Police Honor Guard served in June, 1985.

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Search Warrant Entry Team (S.W.E.T)
The Search Warrant Entry Team was established to serve high-risk warrants. The unit name was later changed to Tactical Support Unit in 1989 when snipers were added.

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Police Canine Unit

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Police Bicycle Unit

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First Bicycle Unit, 1996

Police Traffic Unit

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