1. 1847 - 1871

Records reveal that the first chief of police or, as he was known as then, marshal of the Village of Ann Arbor, was H. K. Stanley who was elected to the office by popular vote on May 3, 1847. There were no patrolmen but in each ward were a constable and deputy-marshal. The marshal had no central office and received no compensation from the Village Council for performing his duties that were occasional. He operated on a fee basis and received pay only when he made an arrest. As there were very few arrests made then, he was not dependent on the office for a livelihood. It was not until the latter part of the 1860s that the city offered a salary for the position of marshal and it was then set at $100.00 a year, payable quarter-annually.

The annual election of the marshal continued for twenty years after Ann Arbor became a city in 1851. By action of the Common Council in 1871, the marshal was to be elected by the members of the Council, and they also added to the duties of the marshal by appointing him as poor master and sidewalk inspector and he acted in the latter capacity, too, as superintendent of parks.

As the marshals from 1847 to 1871 had no office or permanent location we can find little in the records of what may have happened of importance.

The men elected by the people to act as marshal of the village or city of Ann Arbor from 1847 to 1871 and the date elected were:
H.K. Stanley May 3, 1847
Samuel G. Sutherland May 1, 1848
Samuel G. Sutherland May 7, 1849
Nelson B. Nye May 6, 1850
Joseph Godfrey April 9, 1851
Joseph Godfrey April 5, 1852
Roger Natthews April 4, 1853
Roger Natthews April 3, 1854
Roger Natthews April 2, 1855
Roger Natthews April 7, 1856
Roger Natthews April 6, 1857
Oliver M. Martin April 5, 1858
Stephen Webster April 4, 1859
Jerome B. Ganson April 2, 1860
Oliver M. Martin April 1, 1861
Oliver M. Martin April 7, 1862
Oliver M. Martin April 6, 1863
Richard C. Dillon April 4, 1864
Oliver M. Martin April 5, 1865
D. J. Loomis April 2, 1866
Nathan H. Pierce April 1, 1867
George W. Efner April 7, 1868
Nathan H. Pierce April 6, 1869
Ambrose V. Robinson April 5, 1870

In the year 1871, the Council required the marshal to establish a permanent location or office so that he could be reached by the citizens of the community at any time of the day or night. Up to this time, there was no police organization. Night watchmen were employed by the merchants and were under the supervision of the marshal; however, they received no salary from the city.

It was also in the year 1871 that the Council deemed it necessary to establish a regular paid police force. At the Council meeting of October 10, 1871, Alderman C. B. Porter presented a resolution to the Council “that a committee of three be appointed to take into consideration the question of employing policemen.” Aldermen Jeremiah Peek, Joshua G. Leland and Porter were named as the committee by Mayor Silas Douglass.

At the next Council meeting on October 24, their report read:

“The committee to whom was referred the question of employing a police force submit the following report and recommend the passage of the following resolution and accompanying ordinance and regulations.

First—The police force is required for protection against burglars, situated as we are on one of the great thoroughfares of the state and with a large floating population, concerning the character of which at the best we can know but little, our city seems to furnish a comparatively safe retreat for desperate characters against whose depredations we have little or no protection.

Second—A police force is required as a protection against incendiaries as well as accidental fires. It is necessary for your committee to call attention to the fact that our supply of water and fire apparatus is entirely inadequate to the wants of the city and that any general conflagration must result in the destruction of the more compactly settled portions of the city. Our only safety is in the discovery of fires in their inception and can only be done through an efficient and watchful police.

Third—A police force is required to suppress disorder and secure the enforcing of the ordinances of the city and laws of the state. We are guardians of an important interest in the state and it is justly due to our generous patron that we should execute our guardianship faithfully, and secure to our city a reputation as being a model town in all that relates to morality, sobriety and orderly conduct. There is no interest in the city that requires our fostering care to a greater extent than that connected with the University. Our future prosperity or ruin will turn upon the success or ruin of that institution. The committee has been informed and believe that the burden of the complaint of the Committee of the Legislature that visited us last winter was the moral tone of public sentiment in our midst, as was shown by the great number of saloons, billiard and gambling rooms and the riot and disorder that prevailed and was reported to prevail on our streets during the night and not infrequently far into the morning.

Fourth—Other cities in our state of far less pretensions than our own support an efficient police force and consider it a necessary element for their protection.

Fifth—Your committee are of the opinion that the revenue derived from the tax on billiard tables and saloons and the fines imposed for the violations of ordinances will be sufficient to nearly, if not quite, support the police force recommended and these sources of disorder may thus be made to pay for their own regulation and control. They therefore recommend the passage of the ordinances and resolutions.”

This ordinance was passed and rules and regulations governing the police were adopted.