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In January 1941, Commissioner Eugene Bryan resigned after fourteen years in that position. E.R. Betterton, who was the brother of the first commissioner, T.C. Betterton, replaced him. One of the commissioner's first acts was to introduce a coded call system for the police radio. He believed that the public would be better served is the nature of police calls was not so easy to determine. In February, the police transmitter was moved from the Patten Hotel to the top of Cameron Hill. This increased the range of the radio transmitter from seventeen to thirty five miles.Several changes occurred in the summer of 1941. The department changed its uniform and badge. The new uniform included gray shirts and new silver badges. Traffic officers were issued pith helmets for summer wear in lieu of the standard cap. With the help of the federal government, the radio system was expanded to two-way communication.By August 1941, Chief Bryan had served the department for thirty years. On August 31st Chief Bryan announced his intention to retire from the department effective December 31st. Homer Edmondson succeeded him and his last official act was to pin the chief's badge on his replacement.

In December of 1943, the position of assistant chief of police was eliminated from the organizational chart. The Police department's budget for that year was $302,385.07 and the department ended the year with a surplus of $1,836,90 which was deposited as a contribution to the pension fund.By 1945, a strong labor movement was becoming active in the both the fire and police departments. Employees in both departments were seeking redress of grievances that they though had gone unresolved by city fathers. The position taken by the board of commissioners was that the employees had the right to organize and seek national affiliation but the city was not legally empowered to negotiate with or to sign an agreement with the unions. By late 1945, the firemen and policemen had signed with two unions. The charters of these unions had no-strike clauses and the men of both departments said that they had no plans to strike at any time.Union leaders presented proposals to the board but few of them were granted. It was some time before policemen would be allowed a 48 hour work week with no more than six consecutive workdays. Vacation continued to be subtracted from regular days off. The union brought up the question of hiring blacks as police officers and introduced a ratio based upon population. No black had served as a police officer since 1883.

In August of 1946, Chief Edmondson retired as chief of police due to health problems. He was replaced by Roy Hyatt. Hyatt was a twenty-nine year veteran and had held almost every position in the department. In 1947 Hyatt ran for and was elected to the position of commissioner of fire and police and was replaced by Ed Ricketts.On August 11th, 1948, the first black police officers since 1883 went on duty. They were W.B. Bauldridge, Singer Askins, C.E. Black, Arthur Heard, Morris Glenn, Thomas Patterson, and Thaddeus Arnold. Chief Ricketts praised the men and the manner in which they had undertake their training. These officers were restricted to walking beats in black neighborhoods, but their presence in Chattanooga was unique. Few southern cities had taken even this small step towards equality.

Chattanooga Police Department
3410 Amnicola Hwy.
Chattanooga, TN 37406 (map)

Office hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 AM through 4:30 PM

Emergencies: 911

To report a crime or request assistance: (423) 698-2525

General Information:
(423) 643-5000

Crime Prevention and Community Outreach:
(423) 643-5090

Crime Stoppers Hotline:
(423) 698-3333

Drug Tip Hotline:
(423) 493-BUST (2878)

Homicide Tip Line: 
(423) 643-5100

Homeland Security



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Photo by Mike Williams