The Dowagiac Police Department has a long and proud tradition of service to the citizens of Dowagiac dating back 150+ years. 

In 1848 Ira D. Mosher was elected as the 1st Constable and MT Garvey was elected as Justice of the Peace to enforce laws.  

The 1st Police Chief of Dowagiac was Peter Hannan who served several terms as chief since it was an elected position in those days.  Dowagiac had 12 saloons and was known for being "the worst whiskey hole on the MCHH" according to locals.  Things got so out of hand the town had to vote in 1881 to close all saloons on Sundays. 

John Barleycorn was arrested and lodged at the Dowagiac Jail (located Front/Commercial St) and successfully escaped and was never located.  To date, he is the only inmate to successfully escape.

The "Roaring Twenties" came with a price in our small town.  Dowagiac made National News with the Monroe Triple Homicide.  William (father), Mary (wife), and Neva (daughter) were found brutally murdered.  Ardith (daughter) was barely alive when Night Patrolman James Pinette discovered the gruesome scene.  It is believed that sex and money were the motive (Neva was brutally raped before she was killed) ($1500 was stashed in the basement according to a bystander that overheard William talking to the local Lumberman about building a house and having the cash hidden) the main suspect was Cyrus Ryther who was later determined mentally incompetent to stand trial and was placed in a Mental Asylum in Lapeer, Indiana where he later escaped and was never located.  

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First Bank Robbery in Dowagiac-Lee State Bank, located at the corner of S Front/Commercial-one of the five the suspect's is Lester Joseph Gillis AKA Baby Face Nelson-Nationally recognized as "Public Enemy One" and known for killing more federal agents than anyone in history.  Nelson was well known to the FBI as he belonged to the "John Dillinger Gang" which had ties all across America. Nelson was first arrested at the age of 7 for shooting a relative in the foot.  Dowagiac Police Chief Oscar Burch was responding and shot several times during the robbery.  This was the 1st jury in SW Michigan to have a woman as a juror.

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Winter 1941-1942
At one point in history, the Dowagiac City Jail received a triple-A rating on the Hobo Travel Guide.  The jail was a "Winter Resort" a hot stove and harmonica music filled the cells  and was considered a warm safe-haven for many homeless until Police Chief Robert Monaghan ordered the heat to the Jail to be turned OFF and the blankets taken away.  Approximately 500 transient rail riders sought shelter elsewhere.  (info taken from a newspaper article published March 18, 1942)

1940's Police Cruisers

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1950's Police cruisers

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                         pictured: Patrolman K. McCloud-taken 1953

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Patrolman George L. Grady  joined the Dowagiac Police Department  in 1955 and later became the most notable Chief who served that role from 1965 to 1974.  Chief Grady is the first African American to serve as a Police Chief in the State of Michigan.  During his time with Dowagiac Police, he earned his 1st Life-Saving Award in November 1958 when he applied a tourniquet to Rita Boyce's arm after being caught in a meat grinder, was later promoted to Sergeant in 1959.  Grady received Officer of the Year in 1962.  September 1964 he was acting Chief after Chief Richard Wild resigned and officially promoted to Chief August 1965.  Nationally recognized as the 1st Black Chief of Police in Michigan.  Summer 1974, he earned his 2nd Life-Saving award when he saved 4 -year old Darrell Danzy who was drowning in the Lowe St creek.  Summer of 1974 Chief Grady had to resign due to heart health issues, later passing in February 1977.  
Pictured below, Chief Grady is seen with Patrolman Joseph Underwood in1973; Underwood later went on to start a 24 year career with Cass County Sheriffs Office becoming the 1st African American Sheriff in Cass County. 

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1960's Police Cruisers

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1962 Plymouth (2)

1990's Police Cruisers

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September 2005 the Dowagiac Police Department introduced a new officer, 1st of a kind, to the community; K9 Cessy.  K9 Cessy reported for duty each day with her handler Officer Dave Davis.  She was native to Dusseldorf, Germany and came to the United States when she was purchased by Rudy Drexler's School for Dogs in Elkhart, Indiana.  K9 Cessy and Officer Davis received 120 hours of training in narcotics detection, tracking, and K9 patrol tactics.  K9 Cessy was trained to detect six different narcotic odors; marijuana, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and ecstasy. 

K9 Cessy faithfully served our community for 10 years before retiring to the Davis family.

In 2009, the Dowagiac Police Department underwent an administrative transformation from a traditional police department to a public safety department.  Chief Atkinson was promoted to the newly formed Director of Public Safety position and served till 2013, in which he retired.  The now acting Director of Public Safety is Steve Grinnewald. (pictured below) The Dowagiac Police and Fire Departments both operate as separate departments, however each department is led by the Director of Public Safety.  


Through the years, the Dowagiac Police Department has always stood for Pride, Integrity, and Justice. 
This tradition of excellence continues to this day.