On July 1, 1955, the St. Louis County Police Department was officially established to serve and protect the rights of all citizens within St. Louis County. In order to ensure the new Department remained free of political influence, each new employee declared an oath that they would not participate in political activities, with the exception of voting. 

The 1960's: A Period of Unprecedented Growth

By the end of the first five years, the Department had experienced significant growth. Its personnel roster had expanded from 95 to 119 commissioned officers and from 18 to 25 civilian employees. Three divisions were created to better serve the community. Many policies and procedures were developed covering all aspects of the Department. The civilian Police Board evaluated and approved all policies.

The Department had its own fleet of vehicles, a system for radio communications and a filing system for maintaining records. North, South and West Patrol Districts were created which operated from newly acquired rent-free facilities. A mobile command post was acquired from the Civil Defense Agency to enhance the Department’s ability to carry out its mission of serving and protecting the citizen’s under its jurisdiction.


The Bureau of Communications received multi-channel transistorized radios replacing the old style tube-type models.

The Bureau of Communications received multi-channel transistorized radios replacing the old style tube-type models.


Training was increased from a two-week course to four weeks of academy classroom training that was supplemented with additional firearms and on-the-job training. Three chaplains - one Protestant, one Catholic and one Jewish attended to the needs of the Department’s personnel. A Chief Surgeon was put in charge of the Department’s medical matters.

During the decade of the 1960s, the St. Louis County Police Department went through a period of unprecedented growth and change. The Department’s Headquarters was moved to 227 South Central Avenue. There was now ample room for both commissioned and civilian personnel.

The Bureau of Communications was also modernized during the 1960s, with the Department’s single channel radio system growing into a two-channel system. The old-fashioned tube-type radios, which frequently failed, were replaced by more reliable, modern transistor radios.

Twelve-man tactical squadrons were formed in each of the Department’s three patrol districts. All officers participating in the tactical squadrons did so on a strictly volunteer basis. Officers received specialized training in order to carry out their mission.

The Department established its first K-9 unit with the assignment of three man/dog teams in 1960.




The Department established its first K-9 unit with the assignment of three man/dog teams in 1960.

In 1961, the Department uniform changed to beige jackets and brown trousers. The female uniform was also introduced and consisted of a light brown jacket and dark skirt. The first fleet of brown patrol vehicles was delivered in 1962.

A St. Louis County and Municipal Training Academy was organized in January of 1964, as a cooperative effort between the County and municipal police chiefs. Later that year, the Department entered the computer age with a new Central Police Records system that debuted electronic data processing technology. In 1968, the training period for new officers was extended to six hundred hours. The Department also became one of the first in the nation to include college credit hours as part of the training program.

In 1969, Colonel Robert J. diGrazia was appointed as the new Superintendent of the Department. The decade had concluded with the development of more programs and services, improved training for officers and technological advances in both record keeping and communications.


The 1970s: A Decade of Change

The 1970s was a decade of even greater change. The population was growing and St. Louis County was becoming more urbanized. One of the Department’s top priorities was to establish permanent facilities for each of its five precincts.

Colonel G.H. Kleinknecht was appointed Superintendent of the Department in 1973, and served until 1990. Colonel Kleinknecht remained committed to maintaining a progressive stance by acquiring new equipment as well as keeping up with technological innovations. The Bureau of Communications continued to grow by installing three additional channels, two car-to-car channels and numerous remote receivers. The Department’s records system also underwent significant improvements. By the end of the decade police records were fully automated and computerized.

The Department’s firearms range was moved to its current location near Interstate 44 and Antire Road. The Bureau of Tactical Operations was formed and trained to resolve and remove people from barricaded situations. Additional duties included providing security for dignitaries and participating in special enforcement programs throughout the County. 

An early Bureau of Flight Operations helicopter.

An early Bureau of Flight Operations helicopter.

The Bureau of Flight Operations was introduced to provide aerial support for ground units and a rapid response during emergencies. The availability of aerial assistance to the law enforcement community has greatly increased our service capacity.

The Department’s personal car program was introduced in 1975 and later expanded to all precincts. By allowing officers to take police vehicles to their residences, the Department not only increased visibility but also enhanced the safety of both the citizens and employees across the County.

In that same year, for the first time in Department history, all uniforms were issued by the Department’s uniform supply program. Prior to this the officers were responsible for purchasing and maintaining their own equipment. The traditional female uniform was replaced with trousers, shirt and tie.

In 1976, the first Annual Uniform Day was organized and held at Police Headquarters. The following year the police chaplains organized the first Annual Prayer Breakfast. This event proved to be a great success and comfort to colleagues and the families of fallen officers.

The Ride-Along program was instituted which allowed citizens to observe officers at work by accompanying them on patrol. Citizens gain valuable insight by interacting with the officers while on their daily patrol.

The Office of Civil Preparedness was created to deal with disasters both natural and manmade. The Office of Civil Preparedness provided tornado safety programs, civil preparedness training programs, maintained a list of emergency resources, coordinated the handling of disasters and large scale emergencies, and maintained the County’s emergency warning system.

The Department also began participation in the Law Enforcement Explorer Program which allows young men and women to explore career opportunities in the field of law enforcement by receiving training and working with officers on patrol.

At the end of the decade, the Board of Police Commissioners remained at the forefront of the Department. The Superintendent of Police continued to report directly to the Board, however, with the addition of the Division of Auxiliary Services and the Division of Administration, the number of Divisions reporting to the Superintendent increased from three to five

The 1980s: New Challenges, New Solutions

In 1980, the Department celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. The growth and development was far beyond the expectations St. Louis County Government and the citizens of the County had foreseen. The Department’s manpower stood at 562 commissioned officers and 189 civilian employees. There were five fully staffed precinct stations. The County’s fleet, which started out with 20 well-worn cars, had grown to 343 sedans and 25 vans and trucks.

Training of the Department’s newly appointed officers consisted of a sixteen-week academy, which was followed by a ten-week assignment with a Field Training Officer. Training was also improved for current officers. Each County Officer was required to attend specially designed in-service training classes as well as professional firearms training and qualification.

A Bureau of Communications Computer Assisted Dispatching counsel.
A Bureau of Communications Computer Assisted Dispatching station.

The Bureau of Communications was upgraded significantly with the incorporation of the 911 emergency telephone system, automated call distributor and the Computer Aided Dispatch System. Officers, detectives and supervisors alike also benefited from the development of our Computer Assisted Report Entry system. The CARE system is a computer-based records management system, which made the handling of massive numbers of reports more efficient. In 1988 the Department received national recognition from the Ford Foundation Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government’s highly respected “Innovations in State and Local Government Award”.

The Bureau of Identification also took advantage of new technology that improved the ability to collect, process and analyze crime scene evidence. The computerization of fingerprint files greatly increased the Department’s ability to identify perpetrators.

The 1990s: Focus on Regional Cooperation

In the early 1990s came the appointment of Colonel Ronald A. Battelle as Superintendent of Police. Colonel Battelle began using the title of Chief of Police shortly after his appointment. Chief Battelle was the first Superintendent to be promoted to this position from within the ranks of the Department.

Realizing it was imperative, the Department adopted a far-reaching regional approach to crime issues. Chief Battelle set a new course for the Department. He strove to develop better relationships with all of the area’s law enforcement agencies in order to work together to achieve a common goal: making St. Louis County a safe and secure place for all of its citizens.

The Department's 1990s logo.The Department’s logo was changed to reflect its primary mission, “To Serve and Protect.”

The Municipal Services Unit was created to enhance the coordination and delivery of the Department’s services to local law enforcement agencies, as well as identifying areas in which the Department could expand services to the County’s municipalities.

Community Service Officers were assigned to each precinct, with the primary duty to make public appearances at schools, businesses and community organizations.

The Department also initiated the Neighborhood Watch Program. The Community Service Officer worked with groups of residents from neighborhoods who became the “eyes and ears” within their neighborhoods, helping to reduce crime. By 1993, the Department managed more than 450 neighborhood watch groups. A Neighborhood Policing philosophy was instituted and patrol officers were assigned to a specific area so that they could better resolve problems within the community.

The Department established an Intelligence Unit, operating and reporting directly to the Chief’s Office. The function of the Intelligence Unit was to investigate organized crime and gather information on events relevant to law enforcement in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area as a whole.

The Combined Urban Fugitive Force (CUFF) was also organized under the Intelligence Unit. The unit was comprised of officers from St. Louis County, as well as officers from federal, county and municipal police agencies. CUFF’s primary objective was to increase the apprehension rate of persons who had been charged with felony crimes.

The Office of Emergency Management (formerly the Office of Civil Preparedness) continued to develop plans and provide training for dealing with disasters. The County’s Emergency Warning System had grown from 18 sirens, when introduced in the 1950s, to 205, providing more effective coverage for the County’s growing number of residents.

The Division of Criminal Investigation developed an enviable record for solving crimes, a record that exceeded the national average and earned the respect and admiration of other law enforcement agencies throughout the country. The clearance rate in 1990 for murders was one hundred percent.

Members of the St. Louis County Police Bicycle Patrol.
Members of the St. Louis County Police Bicycle Patrol.

The Department established the Bicycle Patrol Program as part of its community policing effort. Asset forfeiture funds seized from drug operations were used to purchase all-terrain police bicycles for use by specially trained officers.

A Citizen Police Academy was developed to promote understanding and cooperation between the Department and the people it served. Because of the overall success of the Citizen Police Academy the Department created a Teen Academy, which has also experienced great success.

Recognizing the problem with drug trafficking in the County, the Department reinstated the K-9 Unit to assist in the detection and investigation of illegal drugs. Due to a rising trend of gang activity in the County, a position was created for a Gang Task Force coordinator within the Bureau of Drug Enforcement. An undercover drug enforcement team was formed to combat the growing threat of illegal drug trafficking within St. Louis County.

The basic training course for new officers was increased from 640 to 800 hours and all County and all County and . To improve firearms training, the Department purchased a mobile pistol range.

The Bureau of Crimes Against Persons formed the Domestic Violence Unit in 1995, which offered continuous support services to victims of domestic violence. Detectives in the Unit also review and track incidents of domestic violence, elderly abuse and incidents of stalking.

In 1995, the Department initiated a pilot program, placing uniformed officers in area schools as School Resource Officers and established a 24-hour SAFE Schools Hotline to address concerns within our school setting. Later that year, the St. Louis County Police Retiree’s Association was created giving those instrumental in the Department’s formation an opportunity to remain involved in the organization. The association meets 5-7 times a year and holds luncheons and picnics for their members and families.

In 1998, the Department received a Certificate of Accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). The Department is the largest local law enforcement agency in the State of Missouri to receive the CALEA accreditation. CALEA certification consists of a comprehensive review of policies and operations. At the time, only four hundred fifty of the country’s seventeen thousand law enforcement agencies had achieved this accreditation.

The 2000s: Into The Future

The Department continued to embrace technological advances to improve the quality of police work. The Department is now operating on its third-generation of Computer Aided Dispatching (CAD). Patrol cars are equipped with computers, and the Department’s MOBILENET system provides officers with access to criminal records, digitized mug shots and police report files. The Crime Lab has also been a beneficiary of new technology, ranging from state-of-the-art DNA examination to DRUGFIRE, which is a firearms identification program.

The current Metro Air Support Unit was formed in the fall of 2003 when rising fuel and maintenance costs began to absorb most of the funding available for the St. Louis County Police Helicopter Program. At that time, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department was operating one military surplus helicopter on a very limited budget. At the same time, The St. Charles County Sheriff's Department was in the early stages of forming their own helicopter unit but was not sure if the project would be feasible due to the high cost of purchasing and maintaining a helicopter.   Captain Frisz approached both of these departments and proposed creating a merged aviation unit with the three departments, with the goal of sharing the expensive costs but at the same time providing more flight coverage to the three agencies involved.  In 2004, the Metro Air Support Unit was created. 

Colonel Ron Battelle retired from the Department on June 1, 2004, and Colonel Jerry Lee became the new Chief of Police.