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In 1882, when the citizens saw a need for better legal protection, the small horse and buggy town of Bartow became incorporated, and the first Town Marshal was elected. Marshal C.C. Gresham could hardly have foreseen the growth that was to encompass the department in the coming century.First Police Station

Marshal Gresham’s biggest responsibility in the 1880’s was to stop drunken brawls from occurring in the street. In 1886 Bartow Town Marshal Campbell became the first law enforcement official in Polk County killed in the line of duty. He was shot while attempting to arrest two drunken brothers, who were creating a disturbance. The guilty brothers were eventually arrested by the other officers, but were removed from the jail by an angry mob and lynched.

The Bartow Police Department has evolved over the years from a one man, 15-hour-a-day department into a modern agency with a staff of 43 sworn and 28 non-sworn personnel who provide Law Enforcement services to the citizens of Bartow.

Bartow did not have a police station until the 1930’s when a tiny concrete building was erected at the curbside on Central Avenue and Main Street. Previously the “station” consisted of a telephone bolted to an oak tree at that same corner. 

Shortly after World War II, the headquarters moved into the fire station. The building currently being occupied by the Police Department was opened in Nov. 1966.


2020     Interim Chief Bryan Dorman
2009     Chief Joe Hall
2008     Interim Chief David Brooks
2007     Interim Director Larry G. Williams, Jr.
1998     Chief Erik Sandvik
1997     Interim Chief Dennis Hoecherl
1995     Chief Tony Sparks
1986     Chief Roy McKinsey                                                   
1978     Chief C. A. Fleming
1976     Chief Jack Cunningham
1974     Chief Marvin Pittman
1970     Chief C.T. Clark
1969     Interim Chief Don Carter
1967     Chief Louis Cromartie
1962     Chief K.C. Myers
1958     Chief Ellie T. Wilson
1955     Chief Roscoe ThornhillJoe Mizell 1931
1951     Chief William Devault
1940     Chief Guy Bostick
1935     Police Chief Joe Mizell
1922     Police Chief Joe Mizell
1911-1939 unknown
1911     Marshal J.R. Wiggins
1909     Marshal B.C. Williams
1906     Marshal C.C. Gresham
1903     Marshal J.E. Childs
             Marshal Latt Allen, Jr.          
1902     Marshal John Read
1897     Marshal C.C.. Gresham
             Marshal Y.S. Dial     
1893     Marshal C.E. Jones
1890     Marshal R.T. Kilpatrick
1888     Marshal W. F. Prince
1887     Marshal J.F. McCormick
1886     Marshal W.T. Hall
1885     Marshal A.S. Campbell
1883     Marshal R.T. Kilpatrick
             Marshal George H. Blackwell                    
1882 First Town Marshal C.C. Gresham

Chief of Police Joe Mizell, about 1931 
Last updated: 6/2/2020 4:57:22 PM