On November 9, 1885, the Council drew up the first set of Official Police Rules, they were:

  • Peace and good order was the responsibility of the Marshal.
  • Day force on duty from 6am to 7pm. Night force on duty from 7pm to 6am.
  • The Patrolman was to be familiar with the beat and it was his duty to guard the same. Use of firearms were allowed only in extreme cases. Police could arrest, without a warrant, anyone found violating city ordinances. In all other cases, a warrant was necessary for an arrest.
  • A scrapbook was to be kept at the police station of handbills, telegrams, and photographs of criminals.
  • The Patrolmen were to go on duty at such time and place as the marshal might designate.
  • Ordinances concerning conduct of saloons were to be strictly enforced.
  • Only the Marshal, Captain of Police and Jailer were to have keys to the jail.
  • Special police were to make no arrests.
  • Police making arrest were entitled to fees if any were paid.

Supervisors shall consist of one Marshal, one Captain of the day force, a Deputy Marshal, and one Captain of the night force. Supervisors were to report for work in uniform and their duty was to see that the above rules were carried out.

If certain charges were sustained against a police officer, they were to be suspended. These charges were:

  • Drinking on duty.
  • Gossiping about other police.
  • Visiting saloons while on duty; except for duty.
  • Accepting fees.
  • Leaving their beat.
  • Visiting a house of ill-fame.
  • Willful abuse of a prisoner.
  • Uncivil treatment of another officer.
  • Immoral conduct.
  • Giving information which would allow a criminal to escape.
  • Disorderly conduct.
  • Sleeping while on duty.

1885 day police force

1885  |  First known photo of the Lincoln Police Department

Notation on photo "Day Police Force of City of Lincoln on May 1885"

The police department had two shifts, the Day Force and the Night Force. Each shift was 12 hours long and officers worked 7 days a week. Names are written on the bottom of the photograph identifying the men from left to right as: J. Hollaway, J.K. Post, Chief of Police G.B. Beach, M. Smith, and Marian Flowler. Police Chief Beach is seated at the desk.

Officers in group photo

1888  |  Lincoln Police Department standing in front of their office at the City Government Building.

Names listed on the photo are, left to right: Police Judge W.J. Houdton; Robert Bracken; John Keane; C.M. Green; "Swede" Peterson; A.L. Pound; J.S. Stewart; Captain A.M. Post; John Tubman; P.H. Cooper; Chief of Police; William George; W.T.B. Ireland; Captain; William Splain; Joe Mitchell; James McKinney; Matt Bracken; Eli Bates; and Louis Faulhaber. Matt Bracken in doorway who used to feed the prisoners at 10 cents a meal.

In 1887, a Citizen's Law and Order League was organized to fight corruption. This was formed when three citizens filed a complaint against Police Judge A.L. Parsons, alleging corruption. The council dismissed the judge. He appealed his dismissal to the U.S. Circuit Court in St. Louis, claiming the council had no jurisdiction. A Federal judge ordered the Lincoln Mayor and the council to appear in Omaha. They refused and were ordered to pay large fines. The mayor and council refused to pay the fines and were arrested and jailed for contempt. After spending a few hours in jail, they were taken to two luxurious hotel rooms for the remainder of their 6 day sentence. They were wined and dined by their Omaha friends. The mayor and council were given honor paroles and later their case was dismissed. Andrew J. Sawyer, author of "Lincoln, the Capitol City and Lancaster County Nebraska" wrote this about the incident:

"Until the trouble arose between the Lincoln Police Judge and the City Council, which resulted in the jailing of the latter and the subsequent hearing of the case before the U.S. Supreme Court, many instances of dishonesty had occurred in the force. In many respects the better class of citizens of Lincoln had a great deal to contend with on account of the lawless class of men who infected this state, as they do every border of the frontier."

The following year, in 1888, the City Board and Chief Parker ordered a crusade against the suspicious characters that were infesting the city. During this same time the Board of Education was presenting evidence that pool hall keepers were allowing boys under 18 years of age into the establishments. E.M. Abbott was arrested and fined on three counts to kick off a campaign against that practice. Other arrests were made in connection with the crusade.

Handwritten log
Courtesy of Nebraska State Historical Society

September 13, 1888  |  LPD handwritten log

Captain Ireland reports to work at 7:00 PM and is in command. Marshall Cooper arrives at 7:11 and assumes command but leaves with several officers at 7:55 PM to attend the City of Lincoln Parade. They return at 9:30 PM and the officers head for their respective beats.

Handwritten log
Courtesy of Nebraska State Historical Society

1889  |  Lincoln Police handwritten log

Notation of new "policy" by order of the City Marshal W.W. Carder:

"Officers on districts No 1 and 2 may report at office. Officers on district No 3 will report by telephone-while on patrol. All officers report in person when they go on duty morning and noon. Also when they go off duty at night. All officers must report promptly on time or be subject to a fine.- No officer will be excused from duty unless permission be given by the officer in charge-or a certificate from a physician. - W.W Carder-City Marshal."

In 1889, some of the laws enforced by Lincoln Police were:


  • No person shall ride or drive any horse or other animal in the City of Lincoln with greater speed than at the rate of 6 miles an hour, under the penalty of a fine not more than $20.
  • No person, upon turning the corner of any street or crossing the intersection of any street in the City of Lincoln, shall ride with a greater speed than 4 miles an hour. Fine $10.
  • Speed in an alley no greater than a walk, fine $15
  • Riding on sidewalk, fine $5
  • Speed contest; run or race any horse on any public street or road, fine $25


  • Any person who is diseased, maimed, mutilated, or in any way deformed, so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object, or an improper person to be allowed in or on the streets, highways, thoroughfares or public places in this city, shall not therein or thereon expose himself or herself to public view, under the penalty of a fine of $1 for each offense. Upon conviction of any person for violation of this section, if it shall seem proper and just, the fine provided for may be suspended, and such person detained at the police station where he shall be well cared for until he can be sent to the county pool farm.


The following activities were deemed unlawful on Sunday:

  • Dancing
  • Foot races
  • Fast driving of horses
  • Playing ball
  • Ten pins
  • Wrestling
  • Discharging firearms
  • Beating drums
  • Fishing
  • Boxing
  • Playing loud instruments (except at funerals)
  • It shall be unlawful to engage in or exhibit any show, play, opera, theater, or public amusement, except in sacred concerts where no admission fee is charged or to use, or permit any licensed hall, opera house, saloon, billiard hall or other place of public amusement to be used on said day.
  • It shall be unlawful for any business house, bank, store, saloon, or any office to be open or for any person to be admitted there to for general business on said day. Exceptions - physicians, telegraph, express office, photograph galleries, railroad, telephone and hotels. Fine $5 to $100.