Overview > Asheville Police Departments
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The safety one feels in Asheville's neighborhoods is one of the chief reasons people choose to relocate here. This pervasive sense of security is a direct result of the efforts of the brave men and women of Asheville's police department and the Buncombe County Sheriff's Office. Together, they work to ensure that the citizens enjoy a peaceful living environment, all the while maintaining the integrity, fairness, respect, and professionalism that are the hallmark of modern law enforcement.
Asheville Police Department- A Brief History
Since 1849, the Asheville Police have worked to ensure the safety and serenity of the streets of Asheville. Given the modern, efficient Asheville Police Department we've come to know and trust, it can be hard to imagine just how humble to force's beginnings were. Picture a time when the rule of law was enforced not by a criminal justice system armed with the latest radios, squad cars, and modern armaments, but by eight brave lawmen who's only defense against the criminals of the wild WNC mountains was their stalwart abhorrence of injustice and an intimidating physique, each of them weighing in at over 190 pounds. The town's last hope against crime, these volunteers were Asheville's champions for seven years until, in 1856, the first paid patrol was organized, receiving the whopping sum of ten dollars annually for their efforts.
Over the following years the policing of Asheville underwent various permutations involving volunteer night watchmen as well as better compensated police officers, but with the growing violence that came with the last years of the Civil War, it became apparent that the police could not stem the crime wave on foot alone. So it was that in 1864 the police received their first patrol wagon. Although reliant upon horses and unruly on the steep hills of Asheville, the wagon was instrumental in expediting the force's response time.
On November 1st, 1875, the Asheville Police Department was, after 26 years of service, formally established. Since then, the department has steadily gained members while consistently updating their technology and arsenal to give them a critical edge against those who would threaten the peace of this tranquil mountain town. Although it wouldn't be until 1906 that the department would purchase its first bicycle, other vehicular and communications advances were soon to follow: a Gamewell Alarm system, horseless carriages, a variety of new firearms, one-way and two-way radios were the most significant advances, the first two-way system being installed in 1938. During these years the Asheville Police Department also enjoyed a significant increase in its ranks to include more officers and a plainclothes department, all under the direction of the Commissioner of Public Safety. Enjoying advances in technology and an increasing number of trained officers, the police department has grown steadily in the intervening years, consistently rising to the challenges presented by an ever expanding population and tourism industry. Today’s force has grown to include Animal Services, Crime Prevention, Criminal Investigations, Drug Suppression , Hazardous Device Response, Noise, Ordinance Complaints, Patrol and many others, making for a town as safe to live in as it is charming to visit.
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