La Crosse police celebrate 152nd birthday with retrospective on days of patrolling on foot, horseback and in buggy

Police Old Photo
La Crosse police force in 1899 laid groundwork for department of 99 sworn officers today. (La Crosse Historical Society photo)

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — The La Crosse Police Department marked its 152nd birthday Tuesday with a Facebook walk down memory lane.

“In 1870, newly elected Mayor Theodore Rodolf fulfilled his campaign promise to create an official police force,” according to the Facebook narrative.

Rudolf nominated John Simonton, a former Civil War Army colonel, as the first chief. Joining him on the initial police force were patrol officers Adam Jacobus, Theodore Loomis, Tom Daley, George Knudson, Henry Clem, Peter Moe and Peter Wirz.

Back in the day, just one officer was on duty at any given time, patrolling on foot, on horseback or in a horse-drawn patrol buggy, according to the post, based on historical information from the writings of retired LCPD Lt. Dan Marcou.

“With no radio or communication system, Officers were left to their own devices, unable to call for help or back-up,” the Facebook entry recounts.

Each officer was issued a night stick, a Smith & Wesson revolver and a copy of the “Rules for The Government of The Police Force of the City of La Crosse.”

The force now has 99 sworn officers patrolling on foot, in squad cars, on Segways and bikes — and a boat.

“We have radio communications, body worn cameras and a very robust training program for new and current officers,” the post notes. “We have officers engaging and building relationships with community partners” as neighborhood resource officers, school resource officers and in a Community Resource Unit.

“No matter the changes we’ve seen since 1870, or those we’ll surely see in the future, we remain thankful for the men and women who have served the La Crosse Police Department and for our community who continues to support us. It is our honor to serve you,” the entry asserts.

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