The 1870 charter required that the Town of Collierville to have a Town Marshal. In 1907, an act was passed to hold elections for the Town Marshal position for a term of two years. This practice was continued until 1950 when an ordinance was established that a Chief of Police be appointed by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.
Sometime around 1913 the first jail was built on Washington Street behind the Square. In 1930 the Town Marshall's office moved to the then town hall which was located on the east side of Main Street just south of Fire station #1.
Back in 1929 and for many years prior to that, whiskey stills were very common. It was during the prohibition days, when making or selling alcohol was illegal, and stills were very prominent in rural areas. The Town Marshal, Jesse A. Lowe, was having a hay day destroying them. In May 1929, Lowe had destroyed his 44th still on Mary’s Creek, about four miles from Collierville. By October 1929, he had destroyed his 53rd still, and was assisted by Buddy Leake, Deputy Sheriff of Shelby County. It appears Lowe was destroying an average of approximately two stills a week within a range of three to five miles in various directions of Collierville. In 1936 the sale of liquor became legal again in most states, but stills continued to be destroyed in the Collierville area.
Due to the loss of some of the town’s records, most of the available records begin in 1938. At that time, Will F. Hughes was Town Marshal. He not only had the responsibility of keeping law and order, but he had the duty to be collector of water and sewage fees, as well as tax collector. His salary was $80 per month until he received a $10 raise in September of 1938.
On Feb. 11, 1944, Boyd Pleasants resigned as Town Marshal and Fire Chief. H.L. Sigrest was appointed to replace him as Fire Chief, with Edgar J. Morton as Assistant Fire Chief, and T. S. “Pat” Morton was appointed Town Marshal. It is possible that others served as Town Marshal and Fire Chief for a short period of time other than Will F. Hughes and Boyd Pleasants.
In those days, the Marshals used their own vehicles to answer calls, with the exception of two who did not drive – Pat Morton and Jesse Lowe. By 1946, salaries for the day and night Marshals were increased to $200 and $150 per month, respectively. In 1951, as the town began to expand, the Collierville Rotary Club felt it wise to have a uniformed officer at the school crossing at Walnut Street and Highway 57. Jesse Lowe was assigned to this duty, and served in that position for many years. He was also given an allowance of $50 toward the purchase of uniforms. By 1952, a night watchman was required to punch the clock from twelve midnight to five in the morning.
Others who served the town as day or night marshal or as officers were Charles Cocke, 1946; Everette Collins, 1946; L. B. McQueen, 1946-1953; Night Marshal J. M. Anthony, 1948; S. T. Berry, 1954-1956; Dan Moore and Billy R. Acree.
As mentioned before, in 1950 the Town Marshal name was changed to Chief of Police. Since Jesse Lowe who was now officially the town’s first Chief of Police and did not drive, a bicycle was purchased for his use. One would often see him riding his bicycle to the school crossing. As Chief, he had five uniformed officers under his command. Jesse Lowe served as Chief of Police until 1959.
In February of 1954 the Collierville Police Department ordered its first patrol car. The car cost $1,537.95 and was purchased from Kelsey Brothers Chevrolet Company located on Main Street. It was wrecked by April of 1955, and a new patrol car was purchased for $1,437.00. At this time, radio transmitters were installed at Town Hall and in the squad car.
George Walker was the first black officer to serve with the Collierville Police Department. He started on a part-time basis in 1965 and patrolled the Marshall Street area behind the stores on the east side of the square, where several restaurants and pubs were located and trouble often occurred on the week-ends. In 1966, Officer Walker became a full-time employee. Later in the early 1990s George Walker became the town’s first black alderman.
In 1992 the department applied for National Accreditation through the Commission on Law Enforcement Accreditation (CALEA), which took a period of eighteen months to accomplish. Since then, the department achieved re-accreditation four additional times the latest being in March 2009.
In 2009 the department had grown to 99 full time officers and 38 civilian employees with an annual operating budget of approximately 10 million dollars. The department had long out grown its building space and new facilities were needed to house the growing department. In mid 2009 the old Town Hall building at 101 Walnut Street was torn down to construct a new court house. At the same time the north parking lot of the police station was cleared for the construction of an 8,900 square foot building to house the Uniform Patrol Division and the departments training room. Renovations will follow for the aging main HQ building. The department expects to be moving into it new spaces in late spring of 2010.
The following are those who have served in the position of Chief of Police:
Jesse A. Lowe, 1950-1959
Earnest Fiveashe, 1959-1960
Guy “Bud” Dyer, 1960-1966
Marion R. Ferguson, 1966-1974
Herbert. Goforth, Jr., 1974-1978
Robert S. McCullogh, 1978-1979
Dennis E. Joyner, 1979-1999
Larry E. Goodwin, 1999-present.