Greenville Police History

Photo of Greenville Police Museum sign The Greenville Police Department dates back to 1845, when the Town of Greenville built its first police station and elected James Goodlet as its first Marshal. Prior to this election, the citizens of Greenville were forced to take turns on "watch." A second Marshal was added in 1851, and the Police Force, as it was known then, continued until 1871. It was during this time that a charter changed Greenville from a town into a city, and in 1872, the Greenville Police Force was expanded to six officers.

In 1876, the Greenville Police Force changed to the Greenville Police Department, and policemen started serving on night duty. The first detective was hired in 1891, and the department consisted of a chief, two sergeants and 11 policemen.

By 1900, the department had 16 officers and was located on Broad Street. During the next several decades, motorcycle officers, a traffic division and plainclothes investigators were added to the department.

After World War II, the Department of Police, as it had been renamed in 1921, began another period of growth. The walking beat was slowly phased out with the advent of radio communications in 1952. Traffic enforcement expanded tremendously, and the first radar unit was put into operation.

A metropolitan narcotics squad was formed in 1971 to combat the rising menace of drug abuse. In 1976, the Police Department moved into the new Greenville County Law Enforcement Center with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Department. This combined effort continues to provide service to the citizens of Greenville County.

Today, the Greenville Police Department serves the city of Greenville with a staff of over 241 employees, among whom 199 are sworn officers. The men and women of the Greenville Police Department are law enforcement professionals dedicated to their mission of service to the public. The Greenville Police Department offers a wide range of services and employment opportunities.

Historic Photos