A Brief History of the Ashtabula Police Department
Written by: Captain P. F. DiAngelo
The Ashtabula City Police Department’s origin can be traced back to1881, before the city was incorporated and while still a township. Police Constables patrolled the township until 1891 when the City of Ashtabula was incorporated and established a formal police department of their own.
Around the turn of the 20th Century, with its large capacity docks and railroad system, Ashtabula was a thriving port, and with it, came the need for police protection. As the population grew, so did the need for additional police officers and resources. In 1904, The Ashtabula City Police Department adopted Ohio Civil Service Rules for hiring and promotions within the department taking away political favoritism hiring and promotional practices. During the 1920′s and 1930′s, the police department supplemented foot and motor vehicle patrol with two motorcycles.
In the 1940′s, the first two-way radios were installed in the police cruisers. During the 1960′s and 1970′s, the Police Department grew in size and technology. In the late 1960′s, additional officers were hired to help bolster the need for manpower and service. Hand-held portable radios, speed-measuring devices such as “Vascar” and “Radar”, and a completely new base and mobile radio system were purchased. Additionally, a fully equipped, in-house crime lab and photo lab was built.
The 1980′s proved to be a devastating decade, not only for the police department, but also for the entire community. Recession, loss of Federal Revenue Sharing Funds and loss of city-based industry caused a significant population decrease to the City of Ashtabula, which directly led to a reduction in size of the Police Department through attrition and lay-off. Police services were curtailed in an effort to provide basic police coverage.
The 1990′s saw a turnaround for the City of Ashtabula and with the Police Department. Economic growth on the local level helped erase the negativity experienced the previous two decades. The economic climate changed allowing for hiring additional police officers, acquiring new, updated equipment and most importantly, the construction of a new Justice Center and Jail complex.
The Ashtabula City Police Department entered the new millennium with hopes of continuing service to the community through an aggressive, proactive updated law enforcement approach.
In 2005, Records Software was installed in the department and in 2006, Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs) were installed in the Police cars.