A Historical Look at the Waukesha Police Department

A Historical Look at the Waukesha Police Department

Compiled by:

Walter Schwanz (Retired Inspector of Police)
Marcie Zarr (Retired Police Clerk)
Lieutenant William H. Graham, Jr. (Retired Lieutenant)

Waukesha became incorporated as a second class city in February of 1896. John Brehm was appointed Acting Mayor pending an election. At that time, he appointed W. A. Gault as the first Chief of Police and named Ben Enders as the first patrolman. In April of 1896, an official election was held and Foster Phelps promptly was selected as Waukesha's first "official" mayor. Mayor Phelps promptly dismissed Gault as Chief and appointed Elmer Putney as Chief of Police. Ben Enders was also dismissed at that time.

The uniform of the Waukesha Police Department was patterned after New York and Boston police, which consisted of a derby type hat (Bobby helmet), a long frock coat with brass buttons, and the six point star badge. Wording on the badge was: "Special Police - City of Waukesha, Wis." The department was informal at that time and officers were paid for time put in as needed. The department had no motor vehicles.

In the spring of 1897, another election was held, and Colonel Enos was elected mayor. Mayor Enos dismissed Chief Putney and appointed Ben Enders to the Chief's position. Chief Enders served in that capacity for 13 years until he resigned in 1910. During this period, beginning June of 1909, the police station was located at the Five Points in a rented upstairs office. Rent for that office was $10 per month with a year to year lease.

In 1910, George Love was elected mayor and, at that time, Wisconsin State legislation made it mandatory that "all incorporated cities form a Police and Fire Commission." Mayor Love appointed R. L. Benjamin, C. W. Crane, A.L. Steinert, W. W. Hardy, and C. D. Love as Waukesha's first Commissioners. This commission appointed Don McKay Chief of Police who remained in that position until he resigned September 1, 1919.

Having become a full sworn, State recognized police agency in 1910, the uniforms changed to a visor type cap, short blouse type coat, and shield with eagle type badge. In keeping with police agencies across the nation, uniforms were dark blue serge material, gold police buttons and black accessories. Police were armed during that period; however, the firearms were not exposed on the uniforms. They were carried under the coat in a pocket holster. The popular firearm was the Smith and Wesson or Colt 32 caliber double action revolver. Officers normally carried the "night stick" in their hand as a symbol of their authority while walking the "beat".

In 1919, E. R. Estberg was elected mayor and he, along with the Police and Fire Commission, appointed Ben Enders into a second term as Chief of Police.

Chief Enders remained in that position until he again resigned July, 1935. During this period, the department grew to approximately 10 officers and 4 motor vehicles - a 1927 Jewet sedan and 3 Harley Davidson motorcycles with sidecars.

3 Harley Davidson Motorcycles

In 1935, George Coutts was elected mayor. He, along with the Police and Fire Commission, appointed Theodore Kolster to the Chief's position. Chief Kolster was a former Milwaukee Police Captain prior to coming to Waukesha.

The uniform of the Waukesha Police made its most significant change at this time. Chief Kolster patterned the entire uniform after his old Milwaukee Department. The badge was changed to look like Milwaukee's, with the cityname "Waukesha" in the place of "Milwaukee". This uniform remains the same, except for periodic modernization and is the basic uniform worn today.

Original Police Dept.
View of the Original Police Department
1934 Police Dept Members
The members of the Waukesha Police Department in 1934

 

In 1937, the Waukesha Police Department moved into a newly constructed building especially designed as The Waukesha Police Station at 130 Delafield Street. This served as headquarters and underwent two major re-modelings, until January of 1992, when the department moved into its new headquarters at 1901 Delafield Street.

The following is a list of Police Chiefs and their terms:
W. A. Gault
February, 1896, to April, 1896
Elmer Putney
April, 1896, to Spring, 1897
Ben Enders
Spring, 1897 to 1910
Don McKay
1910, to September 1,1919
Ben Enders
1919, to July 1, 1935
Theodore Kolster
July 15, 1935 to September 30, 1945
Harold Owens
January 1, 1946, to March 14, 1955
James Hannon
March 16, 1955 to March 15, 1960
Moody Walter
March 16, 1960, to July 31, 1966
Melvin Jones
October 13, 1966, to December 31, 1978
Thomas Stigler
January 16, 1979, to November 30, 1996
Leslie Sharrock
March 5, 1997, to August 3, 2009
Russell Jack
October 22, 2009 to present

From its formation in 1896 to the present day, the Waukesha Police Department has grown to over 100 sworn officers and a civilian support staff of 37 persons. The department maintains a fleet of 16 marked police units and 26 unmarked police units. The department has an annual operating budget of $8,500,000.00.

On January 27, 1992, under the leadership of Chief Thomas H. Stigler and Inspector Ward M. Rostagno, the department moved into its new $5,350,000 headquarters at 1901 Delafield Street. The new police station consists of many new features designed to take it well in to the next century.

The building has an indoor garage capable of holding 38 vehicles. It has a modern jail holding area with cells designed for inmate and officer safety. Prisoners enter the jail area from a secure sally port that is electronically controlled. Color television cameras monitor activities with the sally port and jail area. Security cameras monitor the entire building complex with cameras located in strategic areas inside and outside the building.

The Criminal Evidence and Forensic Unit contains a large property inventory room, a room for recovered bicycles, a dark room and a fingerprint dusting room. A two unit garage is available for dusting for latent prints on stolen vehicles and is equipped with a hydraulic hoist.

The building also contains a room that is designed to hold all explosive, hazardous materials, and flammable liquids. This room is designed with a wall that will "blow-out" upon explosion and cause little or no structural damage.

The building is also equipped with an exercise room to assist all personnel to maintain a high degree of physical fitness. Locker rooms equipped with showers and storage compartments are available to the male and female employees.

In 1995 a 60' by 120' Storage facility was constructed on the northeast comer of the property. This facility is intended for use primarily as impound site for seized vehicles and vehicles being held as evidence. It was financed solely with money seized under the drug asset forfeiture laws.