Contact Information

101 4th Street SE
Rochester, Mn 55904 (Map)

Phone: 507-328-6800
Fax: 507-328-6975

Law Enforcement response
provided 24/7 

Lobby hours:
Mon-Fri 8:00 am to 4:30 pm

Dial 911 For Emergencies
Department Contacts

Narcotics Tip Line
(This is a voicemail only line to leave tips or information)

Crime Stoppers

This is an artistic compilation of the Rochester Police Badge, City buildings and skyline, and a police squad car

Post World War II

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There was considerable controversy surrounding the appointment of Chief Macken. As a result of legal action by Detective Albert J. Kos challenging the testing procedures, the complete record of appointment proceedings was reviewed by the courts. The April 2, 1949, certification by the Civil Service Commission was declared valid by Judge Karl Finkelnburg of Winona in August; his decision also validated the appointment procedures used by our Civil Service Commission. On August 16, 1949, James J. Macken, Jr., was sworn in as Chief of Police, filling a post that had been vacant since the death of Harry N. Thompkins in September of 1945.

In 1950 a more powerful radio transmitter was installed and the Sheriff's Office joined the network, which could reach patrol cars anywhere in the county. "Ten codes" were used to keep messages short and allow for a degree of confidentiality. Later in the year, Northwestern Bell began installation of the 15 station call box system in the business district.

The Rochester Police Benevolent Association began in 1952 with the aim of aiding youth activities, and started their annual tradition of providing Halloween treats and entertainment for Rochester's young people shortly thereafter. Over the years, many projects benefiting the youth of Rochester have been supported with funds raised by this association; their primary fundraising event in the early years was the Annual Policemen's Ball, which drew nearly 2,000 people in those days. In 1957 the Benevolent Association was recognized as the bargaining agent for the police membership.

Chief Macken attended the FBI National Academy in 1953; J. Edgar Hoover was in charge of the graduation ceremonies, and diplomas were presented by Warren E. Burger, Assistant Attorney General.

Requirements for hire during the early 50's were: One year residency in the city prior to application, height 5'11" to 6'4" with weight appropriate to height, 21 to 35 years of age, and high school or equivalent level of education. Staff at end of WWII was 26; in 1948, 15 positions were added. By 1958, the authorized strength of the department had increased to: One chief, one assistant chief, one records clerk, four captains, one captain of detectives, four detectives, three desk sergeants, one superintendent of juvenile division, four assistant superintendents of juvenile division, and 46 patrolmen.

Police concerns during the 1950's centered on traffic enforcement and juvenile offenses. The country's citizens perceived juvenile delinquency to be a major problem and police departments across the nation responded to this perception with increased emphasis on the prevention of juvenile crime. In 1956, Chief Macken perceived juvenile problems probably ranking second only to traffic control as the leading concern of the Rochester Police Department. A curfew ordinance restricting the hours unsupervised minors could be present in public streets and parks was passed in 1957, and the problem of juvenile delinquency was studied, debated and wrestled with during that era.

Traffic control has been a significant problem for Rochester since automobiles became popular. The Rochester Police Department has responded to public expressions of concern by placing considerable emphasis on the control of speed and regulation of driving habits within the City. In 1956 the City Council authorized the expenditure of $1,400 (a significant outlay at that time) for the purchase of radar equipment to assist police in monitoring speed. We also sent two officers to the Northwestern University Traffic Institute to learn "traffic law enforcement functions from the management point of view."

The patrol structure by the end of the decade was based on three shifts of eight hours in length, 6:00 am to 2:00 pm, 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm, and 10:00 pm to 6:00 am; rotation was on a monthly basis. There were 66 sworn officers on the department as we entered the 1960's.  

The 1960's brought growth and change to our city and department. Hiring requirements were expanded to include statewide recruitment, and broader height, weight and age limits. A Narcotics Division was added and the Training Division was created, reflecting the emphasis and problems of our culture at the time. Supreme Court decisions spelling out individual rights and freedoms under the Constitution demanded more care in making arrests and preparing cases for prosecution. More in-depth training was needed for officers. A significant subculture of drug abusers was developing, and their message was finding acceptance among the nation's youth. The addition of the Narcotics Division was indicative of the troubling times.

150_Haley     Our small town grew up; Police Officer Floyd Haley (pictured) was shot to death with his own weapon in 1967. He had apparently interrupted a burglary and was overpowered and killed by the burglars. Officer Haley's killer remains in prison to this date. Haley was the second officer killed while on duty; Reserve Captain William Freytag was hit and killed by a vehicle while directing traffic in 1961.

Our department's 14 vehicle fleet in 1967 consisted of five marked squad cars (one for each zone and one command car), one unmarked patrol car, one radar unit, two unmarked vehicles for investigative work (one for detectives and one for juvenile officers), a vehicle for warrant service, two motorcycles, and two motorized scooters for meter monitoring. We used 45,221 gallons of gasoline during the year, which cost a total of $8,659.68 (less than twenty cents a gallon).

 By the end of the 1960's, the department had grown to its maximum strength of 98 sworn officers. The structure was: One chief, two assistant chiefs, one records clerk, six captains, five lieutenants, one captain of detectives, five detectives, four sergeants, one captain of juvenile division, five juvenile officers, and 67 patrolmen. There were seven non-sworn department members; five provided clerical support and two monitored metered parking in the business district.  

Sixty-five percent of the sworn staff was assigned to the patrol function, working shifts of seven consecutive eight hour shifts with a rotating schedule, i.e., seven days (7:00 am to 3:00 pm) followed by two days off; then seven nights (11:00 pm to 7:00 am) followed by two days off; then seven evenings (3:00 pm to 11:00 pm) followed by three days off. To make up a 40-hour week, one extra day off was scheduled during the day shift. This four platoon schedule was adopted in January of 1966 and remained in effect for twenty years with the only modification being a change in the order of the shifts made late in the 1980's.  

During the 1970's, the emphasis on education increased and funding was made available for officers to continue their formal education. Rochester Junior College (now Rochester Community & Technical College) and St. Mary's College in Winona cooperated with our department to design and implement a program of law enforcement studies. Ninety-six officers took college credit courses in 1975, and by the end of the decade, 36 officers held four year degrees, twelve had earned two year degrees and one held a Master of Science degree.

The new Law Enforcement Center was ready for occupancy in 1974, and the Rochester Police Department and Olmsted County Sheriff's Office began a cooperative working arrangement that endures today. Several functions including crime prevention, radio communications and records management operates for the benefit of both agencies. A complicated system has developed to share costs and administration of the various components whose services are shared. Because the Olmsted County Jail is in the same building as the Rochester Police Department, our department's need for a secure holding area for suspects was eliminated. Processing now takes place in the jail holding area.

In the mid-1970's, Chief Macken made a large budget request and outlined some significant organizational changes he wished to implement. As a result, a consulting firm was hired in 1976 to analyze and make recommendations for improvement concerning the police service system then in existence. Their study results and recommendations were then reviewed by citizens' study committee. Many of the recommendations made by the consultants were embraced by the Study Committee, the Department and the City Council; several of the consultants' suggestions were felt to be less than helpful and were not adopted.  

Major changes in the administration and organization of the Police Department resulted from this work. The patrol platoon system initiated in 1966 was retained; however the Traffic Division was abolished. A Special Operations Bureau was initiated and charged with administration of parking control, school crossing protection, police reserves, and special event functions. That bureau, along with the Patrol Bureau and Criminal Investigation Bureau (Detectives, Narcotics, Warrants, and Court Liaison), was overseen by one of the assistant chiefs. The other assistant chief supervised the Community Services Bureau (Youth Services, Crime Prevention, Planning , and Training) and the Auxiliary Services Bureau (Records, Communications, Vehicle Maintenance, Property, and Evidence).  

Non-sworn dispatchers were hired to staff the Communications Center and were assigned rotating schedules the same as the Patrol Platoons. Plans were made to replace the Records and Identification Officer with a non-sworn supervisor of the records management function. By 1980, sworn staffing consisted of one chief, two assistant chiefs, seven captains, twelve lieutenants, nine detectives, three sergeants, and 64 police officers; the Department had 18 non-sworn members working in the areas of dispatch, clerical, parking control, mechanical, and office supervisor.

One of the other events of the 1970's was the decriminalization of intoxication which resulted in elimination of the practice of jailing intoxicated subjects. The detoxification center became available to assist people with chemical dependency needs. The physical size limitations were eliminated from hiring practices, and the Commission abolished all reference to gender in the rules and regulations, e.g., Patrolman became Patrol Officer. The 911 system was installed and a canine unit was created to assist in locating drugs and to search for explosives.

The Communications Center recorded 36,070 incidents in 1981; three-quarters of the calls recorded were requests for police service. A complaint report form which could be filed by mail was devised to be used in cases where a theft victim wishes to file a report but does not need or want to see an officer. The Emergency Response Unit was formed in 1983 to provide a specially trained tactical team for high risk arrest and hostage situations. Two weeks after their training was completed, they responded to their first hostage situation when a man held his estranged wife captive in their home; the incident was successfully defused.  

Work in crime prevention flourished during the 1980's; the Crime Resistance Unit continued promoting the Operation ID program of individual registration for personal property and initiated programs such as McGruff House, Crime Alert, Silent Witness, Neighborhood Watch, Child Print, and Utility Watch. Hundreds of presentations are made annually, including elementary school educational programs on drug abuse and vandalism, and display booths with crime prevention information are set up at various community events and locations.  

In 1985 the first computerized record keeping system was installed, thus providing direct access to incident and location information 24 hours a day. The system also offered various reports and data summaries based on information collected by data entry specialists in the Records Division.

After 45 years with the department--36 in the capacity of Police Chief--James J. Macken, Jr., retired in 1986. At his appointment in 1949, Chief Macken was the youngest police chief in the state; at his retirement, he had the longest tenure. History repeated itself in that controversy surrounded the appointment of Macken's successor just as it had his own appointment.

It was Chief Macken's hope that his successor would be chosen from within the Rochester Police Department. However, when the Civil Service Commission had completed their selection process, the three names certified to the Mayor were all from outside Rochester. Mayor Hazama rejected the Commission's recommendation, objecting to the absence of local candidates among those the Commission offered. A short dispute ensued, with legal and personal opinions offered by people on both sides of the issue.

In the end, Patrick J. Farrell, a Minneapolis Police Department Deputy Chief, was named as Chief Macken's successor. Chief Farrell joined the Department in September of 1986. The Department has experienced continuity in his support of many of Chief Macken's programs, and also gone through some of the upheaval normally anticipated with a change in leadership.

There was a significant staff turnover during 1987 with eleven officers retiring, which resulted in six officers being promoted and eleven new officers hired. The organizational structure was realigned with the Assistant Chief of Operations in charge of the patrol function as well as both adult and juvenile investigations; the Assistant Chief of Services then handled the communications, records, special operations, crime prevention, training, evidence, vehicle maintenance, and animal control components of the Department. That year also brought a switch to the 12-hour patrol schedule, a crackdown on prostitution in the City and the reestablishment of foot patrol in the downtown area.

Changes were made in communications and radio procedure the following year, with the "ten codes" being replaced by literal English and four part-time dispatchers hired. The "Enhanced 9-1-1" telephone system was added, giving the advantage of a display of the address and phone number where every 9-1-1 call originates. The Department joined with others in the Southeastern Minnesota area to form a drug enforcement task force which receives state and federal funding and support. And that brings us to today, where growth and change continues . . .  

1 Leonard, Joseph A., HISTORY OF OLMSTED COUNTY, 1910, p.218, Publisher: Goodspeed Historical Association, Chicago.