A new commemorative badge will be worn by WPB Police to honor the City's 125th anniversary.
The West Palm Beach Police Department is honoring
anniversary by wearing commemorative badges until New Year’s Day, 2020.
“As we look toward an exciting future for our city, these badges are a tangible reminder to each one of us of where our department has been,” said Police Chief Frank Adderley. “We also hope they underscore our goals to perpetuate the legacy of service, pride and honor of those who stood before us.”
Chartered on November 5, 1894, the
Town of West Palm Beach was incorporated, and the first jail and police station was called the “Calaboose,” located at Clematis Street and Poinsettia. W.L. Torbert was elected Town Marshal-- overseeing a period of mayhem with numerous saloons, gambling houses, “dens of iniquity,” and even a public lynching, according to a historical document from the West Palm Beach Police Department.
On Saturday, February 9, 1924, Patrolman William Morgan Payton became the first officer killed in the line of duty. Shortly after, the City Commission approved life insurance for all employees.
In 1948, Trueman P. Matthews was elected Chief, hiring the first black officers. In the then-segregated city, those officers operated in their own precinct. However, in 1965, a new police complex opened at 901 Datura Street, which ended segregation within the department.
The first policewoman, Winnie Moree, was appointed in 1958. Vivian D. Tromblay, the first female uniformed officer, was hired in 1975. In 2004, Delsa Bush was appointed Chief of Police and became the first female and the first African American to serve as Chief. Her tenure ended with her retirement in 2011. Officer Sarah Burgoon made history as the City’s first female S.W.A.T. member in 2018. She was the first woman to make the team in its 44-year existence.
The Bomb Squad was added to the department in 1972. Significant additions to the department in 1981 included a K-9 unit, the 911 call system, and the creation of the Special Investigation Unit to combat prostitution, gambling and narcotics.
In 1994, the West Palm Beach Police Department celebrated the Centennial by wearing replicas of the original town marshal’s badge.
The 2019 West Palm Beach Police Department consists of 294 sworn officers and 106 civilians.
“I support the Police Department’s mission to embrace the core values of community partnerships to identify, reduce, eliminate and prevent crime impacting our community,” said West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James. “We all want to elevate the quality of life in our neighborhoods, and the police department is an excellent partner in doing so.”
Today, the City of West Palm Beach is a diverse and vibrant city of approximately 115,000 residents.
A world-class destination in which to live, work and play, the City has retained its small-town charm. West Palm Beach is poised to usher in the next 125 years and to continue welcoming newcomers to discover this special place.
For a full calendar of the special events celebrating West Palm Beach’s 125th
anniversary through 4th
on Flagler in July 2020 and to read a comprehensive historic City timeline, visit http://www.wpb.org/125
. Continue the celebration on social media by searching #WPB125.
PHOTO CAPTION: The new Police Department badge to commemorate the City's 125th anniversary