"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.
DUBUQUE POLICE DEPARTMENT
City marshals aided by a group of city watchmen and concerned citizens were often replaced by new city officials. In 1856 Peter KIENE was chosen marshal, but two years later E. R. Shankland occupied the office located in the DUBUQUE CITY HALL. Philip Moreheiser returned to the force as first captain. The city was subdivided into three police districts; each was supervised by a sergeant. (2)
This organized police force lasted until it was disbanded by the city council in 1859. This was followed by an increase in all manner of crimes in Dubuque — fires,burglaries, pickpockets. During three months in the spring of 1859 there were stolen in Dubuque alone twenty-five cows. (3) Between then and 1861 Thomas Fleming was a marshal in name only. The marshal recommended an ordinance establishing a chain gang and his advice was accepted. Philip Moreheiser founded a short-lived independent police group called Moreheiser and Company that served only those who could afford their services. (4)
For years, there was a period of rapid changeover in the marshal’s office: Jacob Swivell (1861), C. G. Hargus (1863), and Allen Leathers (1865). Philip Moreheiser returned to duty in 1867 when the City Council designated the city prison to be the east end of the basement in the Dubuque City Hall. In 1870 Edward Hardee was appointed marshal. In 1873, in addition to Hardee as marshal, Michael Sutton was named Chief of Police. The uniform to be worn by members of the police department was the subject of an ordinance passed on February 6, 1873. Specified tailors were selected in the community to make uniforms that the officers had to purchase. (5) John KINTZINGER was appointed marshal in 1874 while Patrick Ryder became captain of the day police. Kintzinger was replaced by George W. Finn in 1875. Henry Deckert was appointed marshal in 1877 when the police department was moved to the second floor of a building on the northeast corner of Main and Fourth Streets. Deckert remained in office until 1881, the year the police headquarters were transferred to the Dubuque City Hall. Kintzinger, the former marshal, was appointed police captain. F. J. Zugenbuehler, appointed marshal in 1884, was replaced by Edward Moore in 1886 who was replaced in 1888 by John RAESLE. In 1888 the City of Dubuque purchased a horse-drawn police wagon that operated out of the Old Central Fire Station at Ninth and Iowa Streets. (6)
In May 1891 the committee on police protection recommended a telephone alarm system to the city council. Telephones would be placed in enclosures located at street corners in various parts of the city where no police officers were assigned. These telephones would connect to the police headquarters. In March, 1892 the Police Telephone and Signal Company made a proposal to the city council for establishing ten street stations in the city. (7)
Mayor Charles J. W. SAUNDERS recommended to the city council in January 1892 that detectives should be hired by the city. In response to complaints about instances of drunkenness among some police officers, he suggested the detectives watch the actions of the patrol officers as well as protect the public. In April it was expected that approximately a half dozen patrolmen would "drop through the mayor's sieve into private life." (8)
Many changes occurred during the term of Mayor Olinger with at least a half dozen patrolmen being relieved of duty. On June 1, 1894 Captain Ryan with twenty years of experience and an excellent record was replaced without explanation by Patrolman Murphy. (9)
In November 1895 the civil council met with fifteen ladies representing the churches in Dubuque. They submitted a petition asking for the appointment of a police matron and for quarters to be provided for all women arrested and charged with minor offenses. The proposal was met with little interest and it was suggested the women contact the county supervisors. The idea was finally accepted by January 1896 when Dubuque's first police matron, Miss Bridget Brennan, had her first case dealing with a starving and homeless mother and child. (10)
Dissatisfaction with the police department in 1896 led merchants and manufacturers in November to begin organizing a merchant's police force. A former policeman, Michael O'Connell, commonly known as "Powderly," was hired and it was expected that men of "known detective ability will be added as occasion and the demand for effective police protection arises." The charge was made that instead of focusing on "tough characters" the police were "arresting a few comparatively harmless chippies while nearly fifty burglaries had occurred within six months." The new "police" were to begin their duty in December. (11) When it appeared that the Telegraph and Times had begun to agree there was a problem with the department, the Dubuque Daily Herald called for a formal investigation in an article on December 3, 1896.
The office of City Marshall was abolished in 1904 when Thomas Reilly became the chief of police. The same year the position of police detective was created. The city's first two detectives were John Raesle and Thomas Sweeney.MAYOR in 1911 when Reilly returned to his former position. Reilly was succeeded in 1913 by John Raesle.
The first Chief with a long term of duty was John Giellis who held the position from 1915 until his retirement in 1939. A former employee of the Knapp-Stout bucket factory in Dubuque and then the STANDARD LUMBER COMPANY, Giellis left the lumber business in 1911. At the request of Sheriff Jim Dunn, he became a deputy sheriff and court bailiff. When James SAUL became mayor in 1914, one of this first acts was to appoint John Giellis to the office of chief of police.
Giellis immediately began reorganizing the department. In 1914 the department inherited by Giellis had forty-three men. Those on the night shift worked thirteen hours while those employed during the day worked eleven. There were no automobiles or motorcycles--just one horse-drawn patrol wagon. The officers had no police telegraph alarm system, machine guns, tear gas, sawed-off shotguns or riot guns. The Gamewell Police Telegraph, a system of eighteen call boxes placed throughout the patrol districts, was added in 1921. Foot patrols were called to the box by a red light and a ringing bell. The system served the city well in the 1960s. During the 1920s all police department vehicles, consisting of one motorcycle, two cars, and a paddy wagon were motorized. The rise of the violent gangsters in the late 1920s led Chief Geillis in 1932 to purchase the first of several machine guns. Dubuque City Hall employees were startled one afternoon in 1932 when the new firearms were tested on the third floor pistol range. (12)
The rank of police officers at this time could be determined by the uniform. Sergeants, captains, and the police chief kept their weapons hidden while officers wore their firearms outside their coats. The former group indicated their rank by the number of stars on their collars. By 1933 the department had thirty-nine personnel, two motorcycles, a fleet of squad cars and, according to the Telegraph Herald at the time, all the latest weapons needed to combat criminals. Giellis served from 1914 to 1920 and was appointed chief under the city manager form of government when it was begun in 1920.
Upon the retirement of Chief Giellis on January 1, 1939, Detective Joseph H. Strub was appointed Chief of Police. During his term, the first police radio car was used by the force to improve communication between the department and officers in the field. The bulky equipment making communication possible was carried in the trunk to save room. Cells in the DUBUQUE CITY HALL were refurbished. Prior to its being carried by the FIRE DEPARTMENT, a lung machine, an early resuscitator introduced in 1940, was carried to scenes were needed by the police.
Strub retired on February 1, 1952, and was replaced by Hugh B. Callahan who remained in the position until March 1, 1960. Thirty-year veteran Captain Percy LUCAS was appointed chief. (13)
The announcement was made in February 1950 that Dubuque would be one of four or five Iowa cities to try out part of a plan for more uniform traffic law enforcement. Beginning on April 1, the police department would begin using a new form of traffic ticket. Other parts of the plan would be presented to the Iowa legislature by Dubuque Traffic Officer W. J. Andresen, chairman of a three-person committee appointed by the Iowa Association of Chiefs of Police and Peace Officers. (14)
In 1962 Police Chief Percy LUCAS announced a realignment of staff to improve traffic enforcement and criminal investigation. Included was an immediate creation of a detective bureau and preparation for the formation of a juvenile division that would eventually come under the detective bureau. (15) In 1967 Robert O'BRIEN was appointed to the newly created position of assistant chief. Lucas remained in office until September 1, 1970, when he retired and was succeeded O'Brien. (16)
In 1986 police were given the opportunity to be equipped with the Nova XR5000 electronic control device, better known as stun guns. Powered by a nine-volt radio battery, the $80.00 gun produced 50,000 volts, but only 4 milli-amps of current. Each officer to use the weapon had eight hours of training and was instructed to closely follow a policy manual. The police department left its offices in the Dubuque City Hall in December 1974, for new headquarters in the Law Enforcement Center at 770 Iowa Street with state-of-the-art communications and investigative tools.
Robert O'Brien retired late in December 1984, ending a career of fourteen years as chief of police. On May 28, 1985, John J. MAUSS, an eighteen and one-half year veteran of the department, was sworn in as the new police chief. One of the new chief's priorities was to seek accreditation for the department. This indicated that it conformed with standards established by top law enforcement departments in the nation. (17)
In early February 1993 it was announced that Eldon Pfohl, a former Dubuque councilman, had donated $10,000 to the city of Dubuque for video cameras in Dubuque police cars. He was depending on the media to solicit the remaining $50,000. Chief of Police John J. Mauss reported that mounted cameras were being used in Iowa State Patrol cars and in other law enforcement vehicles across the state. It was estimated that it would cost between $4,000 and $4,500 to equip each local vehicle. (18) The camera were field tested in July 1993. Pfohl, who said he was called a racist for his donation, believed the cameras would help officers dispute such claims. In September 1993 the city council approved spending $11,070 to purchase cameras for three patrol cars. (19)
In March 1993, efforts established a Memorandum of Understanding between the police department and the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE (N.A.A.C.P.) in response of accusations of racism. (20) Leaders of CURE and the CENTER FOR PUBLIC MINISTRY supported the agreement, but said they would carefully monitor the Dubuque Community Advisory Panel (later called the Dubuque Community-Police Relations Committee). (21) This group heard complaints about police misconduct regarding civil rights or discrimination. Although the nine-member panel including city, police, and minority members, could not force action, it made recommendations for changes to city and police operations and procedures. (22)
The community policing philosophy was begun by the department in 1994. A foot patrol was started in the downtown area by three officers. In 1995 the department's community-based policing expanded to include bicycle riding police officers. They performed the same duties as police riding in automobiles except transporting prisoners to jail. (23) The program was expanded in 1998 into several areas bordering the downtown area: East 14th north to East 25th, Central Avenue east to Elm, and 5-Points east to Windsor. Two teams of two officers were formed with one team remaining in the downtown area and the other taking the new sites. (24)
The department learned in August, 1993 that it had been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. The designation indicated that the department was operating under consistent standards. Dubuque became the fourth law enforcement agency in Iowa to be accredited with Cedar Falls and Oelwein police departments and the Polk County Sheriff's Department being the others. (25)
Specialty units were developed. In 1996 a Tactical Entry Team consisting of an assault/entry team, marksman-observer team, and crisis negotiators wasa created to handle hostage rescue, barricaded subjects, VIP protection, and executing high risk warrants. The department created a Mobile Field Force in 2010 to handle crowd or riot control incidents. (26)
In response to break-ins and other criminal activity in 2010, the department worked closely with citizens to establish the Nextdoor program in Dubuque neighborhoods. An upgrade of the previous Neighborhood Watch program, Nextdoor encouraged neighbors to watch each others' homes and to report suspicious activity quickly to the police. Officials of the department were also available to present programs to civic organizations.
In 2000 Mauss retired and was succeeded by Kim Wadding who remained until his retirement on June 30, 2009. Assistant Chief Terry Lambert retired in April, 2002 after a career of thirty-seven years. Mark Dalsing, a twenty-year veteran was sworn in as the new chief of police on February 1, 2010.
In 2011 the fifteenth session of the Citizen's Police Academy was offered to residents of the city. The purpose of the program was to build better understanding between citizens and the police through education. Classroom time involved presentations regarding arrest procedures, search and seizure, use of force, laws and policies, police procedures, domestic abuse cases, sexual abuse cases, drug enforcement, OWIs, officer safety and prevention programs. Requirements for participation in the program included the applicant be a resident of the city, be at least 18 years of age, and have no felony convictions or significant arrest history. The classes involved twelve three hour sessions. There was also a mandatory ride-along with a patrol officer and an optional firearms sessions. (27)
In 2015 it was announced that the department intended to purchase 120 body-worn cameras by the end of 2017. The city had received a federal grant in excess of $61,000 to help the department outfit of its officers. (28)
A virtual arms simulator purchased by the Dubuque County Sheriff's Department in partnership with Northeast Iowa Community College was demonstrated at the Midwest Gang Investigators Association conference in Dubuque on May 16, 2016. Five projection screens capable of playing 150 gun-related scenarios simulated confrontations with active shooters, domestic standoffs, and drive-by shootings. Officers in the simulator were fitted with clip-on packs that delivered shocks indicating where they were "shot" or "injured." (29) It was suggested that large police departments could use the simulator for a fee. (30)
The Dubuque Police Department in June, 2016 asked the public's help in developing a policy to govern the use of police body cameras. In 2015 the department received a $61,000 federal grant and donations to outfit all city police officers with body cameras over a two-year period. The city was required to match the grant. As part of the program, department officials developed an internal policy to guide officers on the use, retention and release of body camera footage. (31) In December, 2016 it was announced that police officers would be wearing the devices by the end of the year. (32)
With the donation of $80,000, the police department in 2017 was able to add another K-9 to its force. The campaign was led by Jeff Mozena, president of PREMIER BANK. Mozena and other community leaders met with police officials to ask for needs of the department. The funds were raised in about one month. The donations covered the costs of buying the dog, training the dog and instructing a police officer in its use, and a specially equipped squad car for the pair. The force then had two K-9s for multipurpose use. A third dog was dedicated to bomb-sniffing and was not regularly on patrol. (33)
In June 2018, the Dubuque Police Department began offering emotional intelligence training for its officers to make them more aware of their emotions, thoughts, feeling and beliefs during crisis situations. While this has been preceded by de-escalation and cultural competency trainings, but this is a first for the department. During the three day training, officers are focus on empathy, communicating with others, relationship management, and coping with anger. The program is led by the Personal Empowerment staff of the UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE. Plans were underway to provide the training to all officers. (34)
See: AFRICAN AMERICANS
1. Sedwick, Elizabeth A. The Police Department of Dubuque, Iowa. Dubuque: Scott Printing & Design, 2012, p. i
3. Oldt, Franklin T. History of Dubuque County, Iowa. http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/franklin-t-oldt/history-of-dubuque-county-iowa-being-a-general-survey-of-dubuque-county-histor-tdl/page-13-history-of-dubuque-county-iowa-being-a-general-survey-of-dubuque-county-histor-tdl.shtml
4. Ibid. p. 17
5. "Looking for Bids," Dubuque Herald, February 12, 1873, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18730212&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
6. Sedwick, p. ii
7. "Fire and Patrol Alarms," Dubuque Daily Herald, April 1, 1892, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=_OG5zn83XeQC&dat=18920401&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
8. "The Mayor's Sieve," Dubuque Daily Herald, April 15, 1892, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=_OG5zn83XeQC&dat=18920415&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
9. "Police Captain Murphy," Dubuque Daily Herald, June 2, 1894, p. 4
10. "A Police Matron," Dubuque Daily Herald, November 8, 1895, p. 8
11. "The First Case," Dubuque Daily Herald, January 12, 1896, p. 4
12. Sedwick, p. iii
13. Ibid., p.ii
14. "Traffic Ticket to be Changed," Telegraph Herald, February 5, 1950, p. 17
15. Payton, John. "Dubuque Police Form Detective Unit," Telegraph Herald, March 29, 1962 p. 10
16. Sedwick, p. ii
18. Webber, Steve. "Pfohl Gives City $10,000," Telegraph Herald, February 1, 1993, p. 3A
19. Bagsarian, Tom. "Patrolcam," Telegraph Herald, July 24, 1993, p. 3A
20. Krapfl, Mike. "Harmony Challenge: Break the Silence," Telegraph Herald, February 11, 1993, p. 1
21. Hanson, Lyn. "Police, NAACP Reach Accord," Telegraph Herald, March 12, 1993, p. 3A
22. Basarian, Tom. "Mixed Reviews for NAACP, Police Memorandum," Telegraph Herald, March 16, 1993, 3A
23. Sweeney, Kathleen. "Bike Police Gain More Authority," Telegraph Herald, April 18, 1997, p. 3A. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=aEyKTaVlRPYC&dat=19970418&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
24. Reber, Craig. "Bicycle Police Expand Patrol," Telegraph Herald, February 27, 1998, p. 1. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=aEyKTaVlRPYC&dat=19980227&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
25. "Agency Accredits Dubuque Police," Telegraph Herald, August 2, 1993, p. 3A
26. Sedwick, p. iv
27. "Citizens' Academy Offered," Julien's Journal, January 2011, p. 6
28. "2015: A By-The-Numbers Review of the Year in the Tri-States," Telegraph Herald, January 3, 2016, p. 2
29. Yager, Alicia. "Bullet Item," Telegraph Herald, May 17, 2016, p. 1
30. Ibid., p. 3A
31. "Public Opinion Sought on Police Body Cameras in Dubuque," SFGate, June 5, 2016, Online: http://www.sfgate.com/news/crime/article/Public-opinion-sought-on-police-body-cameras-in-7964433.php
32. Yager, Alicia. "Police Body Camera Almost Set to Roll," Telegraph Herald, December 19, 2016, p. 1
33. Yager, Alicia. "Thanks to $80,000 in Donations, Dubuque Police Add Another K-9," Telegraph Herald, August 7, 2017, p. 1A
34. Descorbeth, Shirley, "Dubuque Officers Take Emotional Intelligence Training," KWWL.com. June 6, 2018, Online: http://www.kwwl.com/story/38366646/2018/6/6/dubuque-officers-take-emotional-intelligence-training