|History of the Bluffton Police Department|
Bluffton police department started out as many small town police departments do, with a town marshal and deputy marshals. Somewhere along the line of progression, the official titles transitioned to chief of police and patrolman. Today, titles include chief of police, sergeant, and patrol officers.
Communications have advanced tremendously as well. Local residents will recall a slower paced Bluffton when the marshal patrolled on foot and was summoned by an air whistle near the town hall. When the whistle sounded, the marshal or deputy would come to the station to meet the person and then go take care of the problem. "Locals" also recall a time when an additional light hung at the bottom of the traffic signal. When someone needed help, the phone line would activate the light, and the officer would come to the station to get the message or call information. In the mid 1970's a local dispatch system was erected with dispatchers sitting in the fire station office handling police, fire, and rescue calls. That system migrated to a partnership with the Bluffton Hospital in the mid 1980's, where dispatching duties were handled by their communications department.
Today, our officers are dispatched through a centralized dispatch center in the Allen County Sheriff's Office. Officers communicate on an inter operable radio system that allows them to talk with all area police, fire, and EMS agencies. Police cruisers have mobile data terminals (computers) that allow instant access to records that would have taken hours or days to access just a few short years ago.
Facilities have improved over the years as well. The original town hall housed the firefighting equipment, marshal's office, and government affairs offices. The police station was a two room area, with a dirt floor in some areas. There was a holding room, complete with jail bars, with access from the outside of the building.
Today, the police department is equipped with modern technology and all of the necessities for efficient police work. We've grown from a two room area to an entire floor dedicated to law enforcement activities. Those old jail bars and door were preserved during the renovation and are displayed along the Elm Street side of the town hall.
Bluffton was incorporated in 1861. the below individuals have served as Marshal, or Chief of Police with approximate time frames for their tenure: