History of the Pensacola Police Department

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Pensacola Police Department

Pensacola’s Finest

“The Story of the Pensacola Police Department”

by: Retired Sergeant Mike Simmons

July 17, 1821 at 10 AM, General Andrew Jackson accepted West and East Florida for the United States in a trade with Spain. Two days later, Jackson appointed James Craig as Alguazil (Spanish for Constable). Pensacola’s first American police officer was created!

February 16, 1885, the Pensacola city charter was dissolved and replaced by a provisional government. Under the provisional government, the Pensacola Police Department, previously under the command of Marshal Mallett, was reorganized two days later. Joseph Wilkins was appointed the new Marshal and Chief of Police. From 1821 to 1885, law enforcement in Pensacola grew from one constable to a force of 16 police officers in addition to the sheriff’s department. Now, officers would be on duty all day every day!

When the new department was organized, it was determined that a more professional attitude would be taken. New rules and regulations for police officers were established. Among them: 1. Officers could not sit down while on duty.

2. Officers could not drink "spirituous liquor" in the police station.

3. Officers had to be able to read and write in English, never have been indicted and convicted of a crime, of physical health and vigor, of good moral character, and of unquestionable energy.

4. The more intelligent officers were stationed on the main streets.

5. An officer could not use his club or pistol except when he was protecting his life or if someone showed resistance.

6. An officer could not leave his beat unless he was taking an arrestee to the police station or for an emergency.

7. Officers could not visit bar rooms while on or off-duty.

8. An officer could not be absent for roll call more than three times a month.

As 1900 approached, a new development took place. The Department began testing officers periodically in their knowledge of the laws and the locations of businesses and streets in their areas. They were also required to be in excellent physical shape in order to perform their duties. About this time, officers began to work in teams of two. Partners were required to walk the streets for better protection. A local ordinance stated that if two officers were walking down a busy sidewalk and shouted, "Gang Way," people had to move out of their way.

Pensacola Police Department Heads

  • James Johnstone, Marshal: 1764-1781
  • James Craig, Alguazil: 1821-1821
  • Colonel Pier, Alguazil: 1821-1822
  • J. N. Brown, Constable: 1822-1823
  • James Ingraham, Constable: 1823-1824
  • Fransisco Comyns, Constable: 1824–1825
  • Foster Chapman, Constable: 1825–1827
  • Fransisco Comyns, Constable: 1827-1830
  • Henry Nunes, Constable: 1830-1830
  • Edward Senae, City Marshal: 1830-1834
  • John Gonzalez, City Marshal: 1834-1837
  • Elliott Headington, City Marshal: 1836-1838
  • George Willis, City Marshal: 1838-1844
  • Frances Touart, Marshal: 1844-1846
  • Fransisco Comyns, Constable: 1877
  • George Wells, Marshal: 1882 - 1883
  • Richard Gagnet, Marshal: 1883 - 1885
  • Duncan Mallett, Marshal: January 1885-February 1885
  • Joseph Wilkins, Marshal: February 1885-March 1885
  • Duncan Mallett, Marshal: March 1885-January 1887
  • J. B. Roberts, Marshal & Chief of Police: January 1, 1887-January 15, 1889
  • William H. Connors, Chief of Police: April 26, 1889 – March 8, 1891
  • Joseph Wilkins, Marshal: March 8, 1891 – August 22, 1893
  • William H. McDavid, Marshal: August 22, 1893 – June 7, 1895
  • Edward A. Wallace, Marshal: June 7, 1895
  • Frank Wilde, Marshal & Chief: December 31, 1897–June 4, 1901
  • Ammie A. Credille, Marshal & Chief: June 4, 1901- June 4, 1903
  • C. F. Schad, Marshal and Chief of Police – June 4, 1903 – October 31, 1906
  • Milton Frank, Marshal and Chief of Police – October 31, 1906 – June 5, 1907
  • Frank D. Sanders, Marshal & Chief of Police – June 6, 1907 – November 7, 1916
  • Cary Ellis, Chief of Police - June 10, 1918 - December 31, 1920
  • Milton Frank, Chief of Police – January 1, 1921 – June 10, 1923
  • Mose Penton, Chief of Police – June 11, 1923 - October 23, 1923
  • Ernest Ellis Harper, Chief of Police – October 23, 1923 - November 19, 1925
  • William O'Connell, Chief of Police – November 19, 1925 – July 20, 1947
  • Crosby Hall, Chief of Police – July 21, 1947 – October 15, 1961
  • Drexel P. Caldwell, Chief of Police – February 2, 1962 – July 12, 1974
  • James Davis, Chief of Police – July 12, 1974 – August 22, 1980
  • Louis Goss, Chief of Police – August 22, 1980 – December 31, 1994
  • Norman Chapman, Chief of Police – December 31, 1994 - October 14, 1998
  • Jerry Potts, Chief of Police - October 14, 1998 - March 29, 2002
  • John Mathis, Chief of Police – April 8, 2002 – June 11, 2010
  • Chip Simmons, Chief of Police – March 28, 2011 - July 15, 2015
  • David Alexander, Chief of Police – July 16, 2015 - May 12, 2017
  • Tommi Lyter, Chief of Police – May 12, 2017 – December 27, 2020
  • Kevin Christman, Interim Chief of Police – December 27, 2020 – June 14, 2021
  • Eric Randall, Chief of Police – June 14, 2021 –

PPD Badge 45.jpg

The Pensacola Police Shield
The Pensacola Police Department has one of the most unique and attractive shields in existence. Officers, badge collectors and historians worldwide have attempted to purchase them. However, they are not for sale. The only way to possess one legally is to become a Pensacola Police officer. Here is a summary of the symbolism found in this great shield.

City Seal: The seal of the City of Pensacola is in the center of the shield. This is a unique but symbolic item. The first thing one notices is the round circle, the five different dates, the black hand and pen over the black shield, and the symbols inside the shield.

  • The red color of the circle symbolizes military fortitude.
  • The five dates represent the times that the city’s charter was renewed.
  • The hand stands for faith, sincerity, and justice.
  • The pen symbolizes educated employment.
  • The shield represents protection of citizens.
  • The black color of the hand and shield stands for constancy.
  • The symbols inside the shield are a cross and crown. These symbols represent the mission that De Luna was on when he first settled in Pensacola to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and claim the area for the Spanish crown.
  • The “Pensacola” Banner: A banner with “Pensacola” is displayed across the middle of the shield. This banner symbolizes the city’s reward for its long and rich valiant service.
  • The blue color of the banner represents loyalty and truth.
  • The Five Flags: Pensacola is known as “The City of Five Flags” because during its history, the city came under the rule of five governments: Spain, France, Great Britain, the Confederacy, and the United States.
  • The Laurel Leaves: The laurel leaves on each side of the shield under the banner stand for the peace and triumph that Pensacola enjoys in its rich heritage.
  • The Eagle: The eagle at the top of the badge is a symbol of power and sovereignty.

For Pensacola police officers, this symbolizes the courage and freedom for which they fight. Each officer must earn the right to wear the shield, and each one wears it proudly.

Since its beginning, the men and women of the Pensacola Police Department have proudly served the citizens through the city’s rich history. That practice still exists today.