Clearwater Police History
Police Chiefs since 1915
Killed in the Line of Duty
began in 1841 with the establishment of a military outpost
- Fort Harrison - during the Seminole Indian Wars. After the
fighting ended, settlers moved into the area to take advantage
of land grants from the federal government, and by 1859 their
numbers justified opening a post office. The small farming
community, then known as Clear Water Harbor, was incorporated
1891, and in 1912, when Pinellas County was formed out of
what was then part of Hillsborough County, Clearwater became
the county seat by virtue of building a new courthouse before
rival, St. Petersburg.
CPD Officers and Staff at N. Garden Ave. Headquarters, circa 1940
Chief Joe Russell
City's First Police Chief
first record found of the police department was when Joseph L. Russell
was appointed Chief of Police in 1915. At that time the
city had about 2,200 residents and only a small handful of police
officers. The city continued to grow steadily in the years following
World War I and through the boom years of the 1920s, but slowed
during the Great Depression of the 1930s. By the end of World War
II, the population was 17,000 and the department had 21 officers.
real growth began in the Post War years, as air conditioning and
other amenities, as well as a booming economy made life in Florida
more attractive. The Philadelphia Phillies have held their spring
training there since 1946, and millions of visitors have flocked
to top-rated Gulf beaches. In the following half-century, Clearwater
expanded to become a city of more than 100,000 permanent residents,
with an additional 30,000 seasonal residents and tourists.
Today the Clearwater Police Department is the third largest law enforcement
agency in Pinellas County, with 234 sworn personnel, more than 137 civilian
positions, and an annual budget of nearly $37 million. For more than a
decade, the department has been a national leader in the implementation
of community policing and in the adaptation of computer technology to
police work. It has also been in the forefront in addressing social problems
such as drunk driving, homelessness, and declining neighborhoods, and
it has been named one of the nation's safest cities.
If you have historical information, photos, or items about the Clearwater
Police Department, we would like to hear from you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.