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City Safeguards for 150 Years and Counting: Annapolis Police Department Celebrates a Milestone Anniversary

Sep 18, 2017 03:30PM ● By Nicole Gould
By Nicole Gould

As the capital of Maryland, the City of Annapolis has graciously served the state as its seat of government, local residents as a hometown, and visitors as a historic destination throughout its 300-plus years of history. With its beautifully structured architecture, historic brick walls, cobblestone streets, and stunning water views, this city has been able to preserve its historic charm and family-friendly atmosphere by many means…not the least of which includes through the service and protection of the Annapolis Police Department, now in its 150th year. There are many milestones to celebrate during this anniversary, including the department’s founding.

In the mid-1800s, during the age of rapid American expansion and Industrial Revolution, Annapolis was a humble port town that retained its Colonial roots. At the time, there was no official police organization in Annapolis, but the City did have a watch program to make sure the townspeople and criminal activity remained in check. Most cities in the United States shared this model of “policing.”

Policing in the United States has its roots in “night watches.” Boston initiated a night watch in 1636, just six years after the city’s founding, with New York City following in 1658, and Philadelphia in 1700. Two centuries later, Boston was the first major U.S. city to form an official police department in 1838, followed by New York City in 1845, Albany and Chicago in 1851, New Orleans and Cincinnati in 1853, Philadelphia in 1855, and Newark and Baltimore in 1857. By the 1880s all of the major U.S. cities had police forces established.

Annapolis’ department began in 1854 when the city hired two “City Watchmen” to patrol the streets during the night. Two years later, four more individuals were sworn in as “Constables and Watchmen.” Their responsibilities entailed patrolling the streets at night, maintaining a fire watch, and preserving the peace and order. The term “Police Officer” was not established until 1861 after William Hubbard Jr. took an oath as the “City Watchman and Police Officer.”
Then on June 17th, 1867, the City appointed Thomas Basil as Commissioner and Chief of Police in order to create a structured police unit. He led a force of four officers—Nicholas Deal, C. Lamb, B. Esmond, and James Hurley—officially establishing the APD.

While on the job, the officers would patrol town on foot, checking in at headquarters, which, at the time, was located within City Hall. Call boxes were eventually created on Main Street, giving officers the convenience of calling into headquarters regularly. During the APDs infancy, the requirements to join the force were minimal, almost nonexistent. Almost all the officers received their training while on duty.


Snapshot of Annapolis Crime 50 Years Ago

Departmental records indicate in 1965:

756 offenses of larceny

121 burglary cases

1,604 criminal arrests were recorded

Property loss during the year amounted to $191,381.30, while $96,149.87 in property was recovered


From 1875 to 1879, Chief Henry Burlinghame headed the department as Chief of Police, reporting in April 1878 that the APD made nine total arrests. Between the years of 1883–1896, there were no records that would indicate any unusual crime aside from routine arrests for drunkenness or disorderly conduct.

Around 1927–1929, the APD used a Pierce Arrow “Pie Wagon,” for transportation, which was later replaced by an early-model Chevrolet. During this time, the department also acquired a motorcycle. The use of the motorcycle was discontinued after one unfortunate officer became involved in a collision, causing injury to both himself and damage to another vehicle.

During its first 100 years, the department comprised entirely of male officers. The APD hit a major milestone in 1973 with the hiring of its first female officer, Barbara Hopkins. According to an article published by the Baltimore Sun in September 2008, recognizing Hopkins’ retirement, they state that she was the only female cadet in a class of 120 while attending the Baltimore Police Academy. Once she graduated, she was assigned to walk a patrol beat, in a skirt. A year later, she convinced her superiors to allow her to ditch the skirt and become an officer in trousers, just like her male peers. By 1976, Hopkins was promoted to detective and in the early 1980s was promoted to Corporal. It was then that her male colleagues began treating female officers as equals. Eventually, she became the first female promoted to the rank of Captain. With her tenacity and eye for change, Hopkins paved the way for several other female officers that would later join the force.

“For some time, there have been female officers, but they were not doing the same things the male officers were doing,” current APD Public Information Officer Corporal Amy Miguez admits. “She [Hopkins] actually made the rank of captain and retired in 2008.”

The growth of the APD would continue and in 1975, the department introduced its first K9 officer to the force. Officer Walt Tucker was the department’s very first handler of the German Shephard, Champ. Both Officer Tucker and Champ hit the streets for their first day on June 2nd, 1975.

Today, the APD’s K9 team includes five handlers and six dogs, each with their own specialty; for example, Circo is certified in Patrol Services and Narcotics Detection, Peko is certified in Explosive Detection and Patrol duties, and Atos is certified in Drug Detection and Patrol duties. Due to their susceptibility to more violent crime and given their specialties, the three K9 dogs received bullet and stab-protective vests last year from the nonprofit organization, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.

Another APD milestone was made in June 1991, when Joseph S. Johnson was hired as Assistant Chief of Police. Assistant Chief Johnson, who retired as a Colonel in the Baltimore Police Department, entered the APD with the mindset to expand diversity throughout the department.
“One of the primary objectives was to diversify the department with quality officers to reflect the community that we would be serving and to have the compositions of our officers reflect that makeup in terms of race and gender,” Chief Johnson explains.

In order to put his plan into action, both Assistant Chief Johnson and then Chief Hal Robbins began meeting regularly with community leaders, religious leaders, elected officials, and the NAACP, among others, to garner support and fill the racial and gender gaps of the department.

After Chief Robbins resigned, Johnson was promoted to Chief of Police in 1994, which made him the first African American Chief of Police in the history of the department.

Chief Johnson admits that his favorite achievement of his tenure with the APD was the establishment of the Neighborhood Watch System from 1994–2006.

“I believe there were folks serving with us regularly, aging from their teens to the nineties,” Johnson explains. “They wore Annapolis Block Captains and Neighborhood Watch caps and tee shirts. It was a trend through all the communities and it was effective in crime prevention.”

One of the core elements of an effective police department is its collaboration within the community. Over the years, the APD has continued to develop their community outreach with a variety of programs and activities, specifically with kids.

Officers of the APD visit Georgetown East Elementary to participate in a program called Character Counts, where they talk to kids about the six pillars of character; trustworthiness, fairness, respect, caring, responsibility, and citizenship.

“We visit all that we can to bring education on safety and let the kids meet an officer,” Cpl. Miguez explains. “A few of us go to the third and fourth grade every week and also visit some homework clubs after school in recreation centers around the city.”Another program developed in 2014 for older kids is the Police Explorers program. By entering the program, explorers have the opportunity to learn different aspects of law enforcement and discover whether this is the career choice they want to pursue.

In order to build relationships with the remainder of the community, the APD holds Coffee with a Cop. This provides a unique opportunity for community members to come together in an informal space and discuss any issues or concerns with the officers.

These programs, in conjunction with ever-improving police training, have contributed to a safer Annapolis. After 15 decades, officer training has improved tremendously. To become a certified police officer, cadets must complete a six-month training regimen and complete more than 150 mandates at the Anne Arundel County Police Academy. Becoming a trained officer is just as important as a medical professional receiving their degree. And the crime statistics are proving so.

For example, in 1975, the APD had 3,038 Part One crimes, which include criminal homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson. In the last ten years, however, there has been a distinct downward trend of such crimes. (See chart)

What started out as a department with a single police chief and four officers has flourished into a highly respected and professional organization in Annapolis with a total of 124 officers, led by Chief Scott Baker.

If you happen to be walking around town and see an officer, take a moment to say “thank you” because the officers of the APD continue to be the protective shield against all threats to the Annapolis community. Join the department’s 150th celebration and congratulate these officers on such an important milestone for the City of Annapolis.


This milestone anniversary allows us to showcase the community outreach the women and men of the Annapolis Police Department do every day. As we move through this year our outreach will continue to grow and our new events will carry over into the future.

Chief Scott Baker


Celebrate Annapolis Police Department’s 150th Anniversary

Participate in the yearlong celebration of the 150th anniversary of the APD with a series of public events and community outreach!

Welcome Back to School

(Sept. 5–12): Officers will visit schools in Annapolis to welcome kids back to school for the start of the new year.

Trunk or Treat

(October 28 or 29): The police department will host a trunk or treat event to teach kids about Halloween safety and give them an up-close look at police vehicles and equipment.

Thanksgiving Give Back

(November): Officers will collect donations to provide Thanksgiving meals to needy families in Annapolis.

Eastport Yacht Club Parade of Lights

(Dec. 9): The APD will decorate the police boat in celebration of their 150th anniversary.