Marietta, settled in 1788, was the first settlement in the Northwest Territory. Their government was military and policed by soldiers. February 4, 1789, at a town meeting, a committee composed of Colonel Sargent and a Mr. Bacus, was formed to devise a system of policing the town. March 17, 1789 the following men were appointed Commissioners of Police: Rufus Putnam (Founder of Marietta), Archibald Crary, Griffin Greene, Robert Oliver and Nathaniel Goodale. Colonel Ebenezer Sproat was appointed the first sheriff under commission of Governor Arthur St. Clair and he was made head of the police system and given power to appoint six rangers to serve the area under his supervision. The rangers were experienced woodsmen, their beat covered the surrounding woods and they were constantly on the lookout for signs of Indians.
During the Indian Wars, Marietta was under military law and Captain Jonathan Haskell was in command of the garrison. When peace returned August 3, 1795, Colonel Ebenezer Sproat was again placed in command of policing. He served fourteen years as sheriff.
Marietta was incorporated in 1800. this act passed November 3, 1800 and was approved by Governor Arthur St. Clair December 2, 1800 to take effect January 1, 1801. This act incorporation was amended in 1812 and again in 1825 when the office of marshal was created. Council appointed the marshal at this time. In 1859, by act of council, the marshals office became elective for the period of one year. In the later years the length of this office was extended to two years. Sometime between 1897 and 1908 the office of Chief of Police was created. During this time Jacob H. Dye served as the last marshal and the first Chief of Police. Since this time the following Chiefs of Police have served the City of Marietta:
1897-1908 Jacob H. Dye
1908-1910 William Harness
1910-1914 James A. Roney
1914-1925 Rollo G. Putnam
1925-1948 Homer O. Wolfe
1948-1966 Thomas B. Sprague
1966-1984 Peter K. Gramkow
1984-1995 Roger E. Phillis
1995-2015 Brett L. McKitrick
2015-Present Rodney Hupp
In 1792 provisions were made for the establishment of a jail, a courthouse, pillory, stocks and a whipping post. These were erected on the southeast corner of Second and Putnam Streets. They were completed in 1798. It was at this location and at the jail the first hanging by law took place in the Northwest Territory.
Excessive use of intoxicating liquor seemed the greatest evil in the early days, the same as it is today. Intoxication was punishable as follows; a first offense of drunkenness was fined five dimes. The second and each subsequent offense, one dollar. The first law for whipping was passed by Marietta, September 6, 1788. Breaking and entering in the night season, of a house, store or shop, was punished by thirty-nine lashes with the whip and the offender posted a guarantee of good behavior for one year. If a person was armed as to indicate violence, he would forfeit, and the guilty party was sentenced to not more than forty years imprisonment. Perjury, or failing to swear to a fact, was penalized by the culprit paying it back-fold, or if it was recovered by the law, would receive not more than thirty-nine lashes. These severe measures and the ball and chain are now relegated to the past.
February 4, 1873 a new city building, containing an auditorium was erected at Third and Putnam Streets. This building was used for all city offices and contained a jail. Police headquarters was located in one room above 208 Front Street. These headquarters were later moved to the corner of Front and Butler, in the building now known as Plumbers & Pipe Fitters Union Local No. 168 and home of the Fraternal Order of Police Pioneer City Lodge No. 12. It remained there until about 1911 when police headquarters was moved to the city building at Third and Putnam Streets where it occupied the area formerly occupied by the Fire Department. This placed the jail and police headquarters in the same building. Headquarters remained in this building until it burned down the night of November 10, 1935. The whole building was completely destroyed by fire, which had been kindled by a prisoner being held in jail. From here the police department was moved back to the building that formerly housed headquarters at Front and Butler Streets. It stayed there from 1935 to 1937 at which time it was moved to its present location at Third and Putnam Streets after the new City Hall was completed.
Civil Service was adopted for police, about 1910-1911. Each officer must take civil service examinations before he may be appointed a regular officer. Each promotion in grade must take the examinations and the one receiving the highest grade receives the promotion. Civil service also protects the right of police, as well as taking the department out of politics.