Anoka County history: Anoka County law enforcement

When I was a kid, in the 1920s and 1930s, the city of Anoka had a chief of police and two officers to keep law and order.

The chief used his own car to patrol. Anoka had about 3,000 people at that time.

One of the duties of the officer on the night shift was to check all the doors, front and back, of the stores downtown.

If he found one unlocked he had to call the owner to come and lock it.

Main Street in those days was also Highway 10. It had diagonal parking and the streetcar down the middle, leaving just one lane in both directions.

So traffic got quite heavy at times in the summer months with lots of people going up to the lakes.

The city hired a young man who had a motorcycle (a Harley, of course) to help patrol the traffic on weekends in the summer.

His name was Granville Jackson. We all called him Two Gun Jackson, because he had two guns on his belt.

Columbia Heights, with about the same population as Anoka, had a similar sized police department.

Much of the rest of the county was served by the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, though many local communities appointed constables or made some limited arrangement for their own law enforcement.

I should mention that Bill Cox, who is 93 this year, was the constable of Cedar, a community in Oak Grove, and he still has the badge to prove it.

Anoka County in the 1930s had only 18,000 people.

Today, counting all the officers and patrol cars from all of the cities in the county and the sheriff’s department we have close to 450 officers and 150 patrol cars taking care of the needs and protection of a county with more than 330,000 people.

All the cities in the county have their own police departments except the following cities: Andover, Ham Lake, Columbus, Nowthen, Oak Grove, Bethel, East Bethel, and Linwood are all contracted with the county sheriff’s department.

Larry Elfeldt donated to the Anoka County Historical Society an old binder which he purchased at the estate sale of Charlie Ehlen, nephew of former Mayor Bob Ehlen.

It is the complete annual report of all activities of the city of Anoka police department for the year 1951.

It is a fun and interesting read. I’ll list a few just to give you an example.

January 4: Arrested by Officers Karkhoff and Barrett on 3rd and Main Street for being drunk. Pled guilty. Fined $11, costs $4.

July 6: Suspicious person on 3rd and Monroe Street. It was a lady waiting for her husband.

July 8: Called to the State Hospital. A horse running around up there.

July 8: Radio call. Horse back at State Hospital.

July 8: Radio call. [Man] left home with no clothes on. Found him on Benton and Ferry Street. Took him home.

July 18: Watch for a 1948 Plymouth, no license. Hold up car from Pine Brook. Did not see car.

August 31: Mr. McDonald said Army convoys were holding up his buses. Told him there was nothing we could do about it.

August 31: One man on Main and Ferry Street all day. Army convoys going back to Illinois from Fort Ripley.

Now that we have this complete 1951 police report from the Anoka Police Department, you are welcome to come in and read it at the Anoka County History Center.

Editor’s note: Tom Ward is on the board of the directors of the Anoka County Historical Society.

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