History of CPD

Between 1856 and 1859, the first non-native settlement in the Washington Territory was established in and near what is now Centralia.

In 1874, George Washington and his wife donated land and filed the necessary plat maps for the creation of a town. Centralia, originally known as Centreville, was designated a territorial town, with its population swelling for a time to over 15,000 during the 1880s. This number has only recently been surpassed.

In 1889 Washington became a state, and the city of Centralia was incorporated, vying for a time with Olympia to become the state capital. Town Ordinance Number XII, approved in March of that year, specified the duties of the City Officers. Section IV outlined the duties of the Town Marshal, which included collecting taxes and keeping a jail. At that time, law enforcement in Centralia was made up of two marshals who worked out of a small building at the corner of Magnolia Street and Tower Avenue in downtown Centralia.

Over the next decade, the force had grown to 10 members (including a Chief Marshal). City Ordinance Number 116 was signed in January, 1904 creating the Centralia Police Department. Until 1910, the department was housed in a two story building constructed of wooden planks at the corner of Tower and Magnolia. The fire station was also in the same building.

1910: The police department had outgrown the old plank jail and a new "modern" concrete and brick jail was built adjacent to the alley in the 100 block of W Maple Street. This building was used until it was torn down to make room for the new City Hall built in 1921.

1911: Three police call lights were installed at convenient points in the city to alert patrolmen to return to the station.

In 1921, Centralia built a new, modern brick building, where City Hall and the police department are located today. It initially housed the police and fire departments, Washington State Patrol, and city hall staff. The fire department moved to its new station on N Pearl in 1955 allowing the Police Department to expand their own headquarters, converting the fire engine bays into office spaces.

Under the leadership of Chief Milton M. Jastrum, the first police radio in Centralia was placed into service in 1934. It was a homemade 50-watt transmitter. Only one-way communications were possible with that radio, i.e., the office could call the cars, but the cars could not call the office.

In 1936, Officers were given a 10-hour work day and had three days off per month as well as a two week vacation. Previously, they worked 12 hours per day, seven days per week.

By 1941, that changed to four days off per month. The Department was made up of nine men (including the Chief). Forty Auxiliary Police officers were commissioned to enforce wartime blackout regulations. Blackouts were from 4:30 pm to 8 am. Only vehicles allowed during blackout were defense related, mail, food, and newspapers. One armed police officer was stationed at the Centralia electric substation. On December 10, 1941, city officials ordered an air raid siren, loud enough to be heard for five miles. It was intended to be placed atop the Lewis and Clark Hotel.

1944: Officers were given an eight-hour day.

1949: Parking meters were installed downtown. An additional officer was hired to check on the meters and collect the parking fees.

1952: A 10-officer complement remained fairly constant for the Centralia Police Department (CPD) when the force was increased to 13 officers (including the Chief). Officers were given five days off per month (when possible).

The 1970s brought a number of significant changes to the Centralia Police Department. The downtown area parking meters were removed in about 1971 and in 1973, John Stoner was appointed as the first full-time detective.

In 1974, the department hired the first civilian dispatchers to handle dispatching and answering phones. Prior to that time, police officers took turns answering the phone and dispatching. Civilian records personnel were later hired to improve the department's records system and free officers to work on crime problems.

By 1976, there were 17 full-time officers. The force increased to 23 officers in 1977 and then reduced by attrition. The number of officers varied between 16 and 21 officers until 1990.

Then-Sergeant Bob Berg implemented the 911 system in Centralia for police, fire and medical emergencies in 1979. The 911 lines fed directly into the police dispatch center. This system was in place until 1984 when CPD closed its dispatch center and Chehalis began dispatching for Centralia.

The Personal Car Program for all officers began in 1981 with the arrival of the first additional cars. Over time, the department was able to move from adding vehicles surplus by other agencies to rotating the entire fleet with new patrol cars. The first computerized records system (called L.E.M.S.) went online in 1985, a forerunner to the technologically advanced records management system now in place throughout the county. The city jail closed that same year, moving Centralia prisoners to the Chehalis PD and Lewis County jails.

1995: Enhanced 911 service went online for all of Lewis County through Central Dispatch.

1990 to 1995: Several new positions were added, and by 1996 the department reached its authorized commissioned staffing level of 30 officers.

In 2009, The Centralia Police Department received funding through a COPS CHRP grant for two new positions. Together with the School Resource Officer Position, which is partially funded by the Centralia School District, our current, authorized strength is 33 commissioned officers.

Photo Gallery

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