When the Hamlet of Stoney Creek began to grow in population, the Dominion Government transferred their R.N.W.M.P. Detachment from Duhamel to Stoney Creek in 1904. Constable Blue Smith policed both the County and the Hamlet and later, the Village of Sparling.
In 1905, the Hamlet of Stoney Creek was incorporated as the Village of Sparling. The Village Council appointed its own Constable, Charlie E. Asp, a local blacksmith and carpenter. He held this office until 1908.
In 1906, council changed the name of the village to the Town of Camrose. After Charlie Asp there were several men that served as police officers in the town: Cst. A. Hill, Cst. Lawrence Larson, Cst. William Carter, Cst. McKenzie, Cst. Craig, Cst. Dann, and Cst. Stan Ilnicki. In 1920 Mr. Bill Waterton left the Alberta Provincial Police Force to become Chief Constable of the Town of Camrose. In 1937 Herbert Dean joined Cst. Waterton and others also came and left; Cst. R.R. Holgate, Dan Foputs and Phil Link held positions as Constable through to 1943. In that year Cst. Waterton retired and the police force was disbanded. The Town of Camrose entered into an agreement with the Federal Government to have Camrose policed by members of the RCMP. In 1955 Camrose became a city and began planning for the future, which led to the beginning of the current Camrose Police Service.
The first Chief of Police was Howard Martin, who had been with the RCMP for twenty three years. Most of his service was in Alberta and he resigned as a Sergeant in charge of the Stettler Detachment to accept the position of Chief of Police. The first members to join Chief Martin were Cst. Duff Franklin, Cst. Charlie Starcheski, Cst. Tom Coultis, Cst. Robert Bell and Cst. Bob McFeeley. The first police car, a 1956 Dodge Crusader was purchased from LeBarge Chrysler for $2,169.34, a vast difference from fully equipped police cars today costing upwards of $40,000.00.
Chief Martin retired in 1963 and vacancy was filled by Chief E.V. Christianson. Chief Christianson had been in the RCMP for twenty years and posted to many locations. Chief Christianson held that position for several years and retired in 1982. The Deputy Chief, Duff Franklin was appointed to Chief at that time and spent five years in that position. When Chief Franklin retired, Inspector Vic Redekopp was appointed Acting Chief until the hiring of Bill Bradshaw in January 1988. Chief Bradshaw had been with the RCMP for 27 years and retired as a detachment commander in Wetaskiwin. In 1990 the name of the agency changed from Camrose Police Department to Camrose Police Service. Chief Bradshaw was Chief until his retirement in 1999. Deputy Chief Marshall Chalmers was appointed as Chief and remained until 2007. Deputy Chief Darrell Kambeitz was appointed as Chief of Police on January 1st, 2008 and holds the position today.
It was Cst. Tom Coultis that received the keys to the police station and began his first shift at 12:01 A.M. on July 1st, 1956. Tom is a resident of Camrose and can be seen every year in the parade proudly wearing his original tunic and driving our 1956 Dodge Crusader Police Car. It was through an interview with Tom that we learned a few details about policing in the early years of the Camrose Police Department.
The first police building was located on the corner of 51 Street and 50 Avenue. Housed in a former church was City Hall in the front and the police station in the back. The RCMP operated out of this same location until turning the keys over to Tom. The station consisted of a small Chief’s office, an open area and two small portable cells.
There was no radio system and when a Constable was out on patrol he had to forward the telephone to his residence where his spouse would answer the call. She would then have to drive down to the police station and activate a red light mounted on a power pole outside the station. It was the member’s responsibility to keep an eye on the light on the pole. It was visible from just about anywhere in the downtown core. If it was lit he knew there was a call to answer.
Twenty-four hour policing was offered to Camrosians from the inception of the city police. Training to cover the criminal, traffic and liquor laws as well as City bylaws took part in the basement of the firehall for approximately one month. In comparison, current recruit training takes eight months.
The Bank of Montreal moved from the corner of 50 Street and 49 Avenue (Current CIBC location) to 50 Street and 50 Avenue (Current Inspirations Spa location), and when they did the city moved into their old building. City Hall was located on the main floor while the police station took up approximately half of the upper floor. The building’s caretaker also resided on the upper floor. Being on the upper floor accessed only by a set of stairs made it challenging for officers to haul some prisoners to jail. In the basement of this building was an indoor gun range. The range was never used by police, but was used for the training of bank employees prior to their move to the new location. Target practice for police took place either at the indoor gun range that still exists at the community centre, or outside at Dodd’s Coal Mine northeast of Camrose. It was at this location that a radio dispatch system was implemented.
From that building police moved to a newly constructed office at 4907 – 49 Street. It was built on a small piece of property between a service station and a car dealership. This building was used until the move into the current location in 1999, the former CFCW Radio building.