Fitzgerald Police Department - Past, Present, and Future
In 1829 Sir Richard Mayne wrote: “The primary object of an efficient police is the prevention of crime: the next that of detection and punishment of offenders if a crime is committed. To these ends all the efforts of the police must be directed. The protection of life and property, the preservation of public tranquility, and the absence of crime, will alone prove whether those efforts have been successful and whether the objects for which the police were appointed have been attained.” I find, with some degree of humor, that it was the Saxons which brought the earliest tribal system of policing to England, which is the home of the modern model of policing.
The history of policing in the colony city owes much of its humble beginnings to Chief Julius Jones the first police Chief. The story of Fitzgerald is intermingled with those individuals called forward to serve our community. Police have gone from walking the beat with call box keys, to riding the streets and alleys with portable radios and computers. Early Officers were often chosen for the physical attributes, which better enabled them to keep the peace. Our earliest police forces received little if any training or supervision - a stark contrast to today’s modern officer.
Reforms to policing and society in general began to take earnest hold in the early 20th century. These changes paved the way for the modern police agency as it exists today.
Fitzgerald’s policing history is in many ways represented by officers still answering the call to serve. Members of the current department with over twenty
years of service include:
Chief William Smallwood Jr.
Major James Reynolds
Captain Allen Pope
Captain Michael Brooks
Sgt. Kyle Krause
Ofc. Billy Rodgers
The dedication brought by these individuals who have committed themselves to public service is inspiring. These officers witnessed a revolution in policing, and adapted to those changes in order to better serve our community.
No mention of the history of policing in Fitzgerald would be complete with out the mention of the ongoing struggle against illegal drugs. The abundance of cocaine and “crack” cocaine has forever changed the face of modern policing here in Fitzgerald. The sudden rise in the case of methamphetamine use will also likely create more problems for both our community and the officers charged with its protection.
The nature of police work in Fitzgerald has changed as drastically as the officers and equipment. Officers today are more likely to encounter citizens and offenders who have learned much of their concept of law enforcement from television. While entertaining, these shows have very little in common with the challenges faced by police officers today.
Today’s Fitzgerald Police officer has many advantages that their predecessors did not have. Computers are now so firmly entrenched in police work it is hard to imagine a time without them. Even social media has changed the way we police our community. Equipment such as body cameras and thermal imagers has catapulted us firmly into the 21st century. In-car cameras, breath analyzers, pepper spray and tasers make the job of policing safer.