History of the Columbia Police Department

To Protect & Serve: The Columbia Police Department from 1899 to Present


1826- The City of Columbia was incorporated and the police force was created.

1860- Thomas Marshall is the town Marshall and the City of Columbia sees a great increase in population.

1890- The city marshal is referred to the Chief of Police for the first time.

1899- Luther Slate is appointed to Chief and serves the city until 1905.

1905- Milliard Fillmore Rogers is appointed to chief but dies of a heart attack in 1906. John L. Whitesides takes over as interim and is officially elected in 1907.

1906- The first automobile collision took place in Columbia.

1908—The police Headquarters moved into a new two story brick building at 7th and Walnut.

1920 to 1939

1921- Chief Whitesides retired and Ernest Rowland became the new Chief of Police. While in office Chief Rowland introduces the blue uniform with stripes, based of the uniforms of the NYPD.

1927- James Mitchell is elected to chief position but falls ill while in office and is replaced by Whitesides for the time being.

1928- Following the death of Mitchell, the city holds a special election and Whitesides is voted back in office on a permanent basis.

1930- The department adds four men and two automobiles to fight the increased crime during the depression.

1931- Officer Ben Booth left CPD to become one of the first members of the Missouri Highway Patrol.

1931- Whitesides is defeated by A.L. Slate who served two terms and then was beaten by Orville Pollack in the 1935 election. Pollack would go on to be defeated by George L. Quinn in 1939.

1933- Sgt. Booth and Sheriff Roger Wilson were mortally wounded outside Rangeline and Business Loop.

1933- Due to the increasing size of the department, the city is forced to build new police headquarters.

1939- Chief Quinn changes uniforms from all blue to blue pants with pearl grey shirts.

1940 to 1959

1944- Chief Quinn establishes the eight hour work day.

During the 1940’s, Columbia hired the city’s first black officer. Officer E.O. Boone served on the force until his resignation in 1948 and was replaced by Officer William R. Palmer

1950- Columbia official introduce a three digit emergency number(112) that would cut into the police circuit when dialed.

1954- After a rapid succession of police chiefs, Paul Cheavens was introduced as Chief and served 21 years, which is the longest tenure for a police chief to this date in Columbia.

1959- Fireman Billy Joe White designed the police department’s first custom patch bearing the columns on Mizzou’s campus.

1960 to 1989

1961- CPD introduces the first police dog, Cosmo. Officer Gaylord Morton was selected as Cosmo’s handler and the two would patrol the streets together.

1969 – Officer William T. Byers died of a heart attack while on duty. End of Watch October 18, 1969.

1973- Susan Wooderson becomes Columbia’s first female officer.

1978- The department’s headquarters were renovated and a third level was added to the complex.

1982- McGruff, the crime dog, was introduced for the first time.

1982- Columbia Police Department hired Fontella Ford, the first black female officer.

1982, Chief Walsh retired serving seven years. After a nationwide search was conducted, William Dye of Champaign , Illinois was introduced as Chief of Police. He was the departments first black Chief.

1987- William Dye resigns as chief and Ernest Barbee is appointed to the position.

1989- The D.A.R.E. program is introduced in a pilot program in three Columbia elementary schools.

1990 to 1999

1991- CPD and West Boulevard Elementary sign a declaration to be “Partners in Education”.

1994- Susan Wooderson, Columbia’s first female officer, retired.

1995- Following a 27 year absence, police dogs were reintroduced into service. Cosmo II and Nero became the new Canine Unit.

1996- Officer Shelly Jones is awarded the Ribbon of Valor and is honored by the Missouri Peace Officers Association as the 1996 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.

1997- After a nationwide search, Norm Botsford was appointed to Chief of Police.

1997- Through federal grants, the Columbia Police Youth Academy program is created.

1998- Community in Action team was created to address certain hotspots in the city. It would become part of the Street Crimes Unit in 2008.

1999- Chief Botsford resigns and 23 year department veteran Randy Boehm is appointed to Chief.


As the 2000’s rolled in, Columbia Police Department started to rely more heavily on Technology to solve non-violent crimes.

2001- School Resource Officers are placed into the local high schools.

2002- Police Motorcycles were proposed to come back. They would be brought back a year later.

2002- Chief Boehm receives “Police Chief of the Year” by the Missouri Police Chief’s Association after being a chief for only two and a half years.

2003- Zim Schwartze is promoted to captain, becoming the first female officer to do so.

2005- Officer Molly Bowden was shot and killed while conducting a routine traffic stop at Nifong and Forum.

2005 – Officer Curtis Brown was shot in the arm while pursuing Richard Evans the suspect in the shooting death of Officer Molly Bowden. Officer Brown was awarded the Ribbon of Valor for his actions.

2005- The CPD creates the Mounted Unit with two horses. The unit would grow to six horses and then would eventually be reduced to the current number of four horses.

2008—The Bait Car program is created and would have great impact in the reduction of crime within the city.

2008- Police Chief Boehm resigns after nine years.

2009- Kenneth Burton is appointed to Chief and took over the duties from Interim Chief Dresner. As police chief, Burton has created the Downtown Unit and the Public Relations Unit. Also Chief Burton introduced Geographic Based Policing.

2010- Chief Burton changed the number of beats from 16 to eight and sectors from four to three.

2010- The new Police Training Center is opened up. The complex is located at 5001 Meyer Industrial Drive.

2010- Body cameras are introduced for the Downtown Unit.

2011- CNT becomes a part of SWAT.

2012- The Training Budget is increased for the CPD.

2012- Dianne Bernhard is promoted to Deputy Chief in October, becoming the first woman to do so.

2012- The Columbia Police Department launches their Social Media Campaign in order to better connect with the Community.

2014- Jill Schlude is promoted to Deputy Chief in June. Lieutenant John Gordon and Sergeant Jeremiah Hunter are both promoted to Assistant Chief.

2014- Body worn cameras are purchased and issued to all uniformed services to include Patrol, Traffic Unit, Street Crimes Unit, and School Resource Officers. CPD is the first police department in Missouri to have full implementation of this technology to this scale.