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History of the Bluffton Police Department PDF Print E-mail

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:

Term of Service Name Term of Service Name
1861-1862 George Burget 1950-1956 Lee Coon
1862-1863 Teese Randolph 1956-1973 William Gaiffe
1863-1864 John Franks 1974-1974 James Hicks
1865-1865 David Franks 1974-1974 Jack Young
1865-1866 C. Gardner 1975-1977 Harry Osborn
1865-1866 John Franks 1977-1987 James Hicks
1866-1869 J.B. Hall 1987-1989 Tim Thwaits
1869-1870 J.R. Dray 1989-1990 David A. Bloomfield
1870-1871 Henry Reider 1990-2005 Howard "Reid" Foust
1871-1872 Cyrus Mann 2005-2016 Richard A. Skilliter
1872-1873 Edwin Foster 2016- Present  Ryan M. Burkholder
1873-1873 David Frank    
1873-1876 C.B. Mann    
1876-1876 Joseph Mummah    
1876-1881 C.B. Mann    
1881-1881 Joseph Harris    
1881-1882 C.B. Mann    
1882-1885 R.R. Zoll    
1885-1886 Frank Hermann    
1886-1888 M.F. Beals    
1888-1888 Charles Yeager    
1888-1892 Frank Clark    
1892-1896 M.M. Murray    
1896-1903 A.R.Conrad    
1903-1905 Ed Burns    
1905-1910 T.L. Dunlap    
1910-1911 D.W. Fox    
1912-1915 Lloyd Murray    
1915-1917 D.W. Fox    
1918-1921 Henson Good    
1922-1923 Owen Grandstraff    
1924-1927 Allen Beeshy    
1928-1935 Gid Luginbuhl    
1936-1950 E. Lee Coon    


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