Howard Richards, the first officer, was hired on March 21, 1923, and the police department was formed on March 28th of that same year. The department was comprised of five officers with Howard Richards appointed its chief. In the 1920’s the city jail was located between the railroad tracks and U.S. 1 on Avenue A.
In 1951, the city hired Louis Gilchrist and Eddie Bailey, their first African-American officers. Their original duty was in the Lincoln Park area and later was altered to cover Avenue C to 9th Street to 13th Street to Avenue D. By the end of 1955 five officers were covering this neighborhood.
The K-9 unit was added in 1972 with Officer James Mahar becoming the first handler. Officer Mahar later became Chief of Police. Today’s K-9 Unit consists of four teams.
Fonda Doane became the first sworn female police officer on March 14, 1973. Currently, there are 14 female officers and 33 women in the department that serve as duty officers and support staff.
In 1987 construction began on the current home of the Department at 920 S. U.S. 1 and was completed in August 1988. Previously the department shared facilities with the courthouse and jail at 435 North 7th Street.
Construction began on the new substation in 1999 and was completed in November of 2000. It was dedicated to and named in honor of, Sergeant Willie B. Ellis, who was the first Fort Pierce Police Officer killed in the line of duty. It is located at 1220 Avenue D and replaces the first neighborhood substation that was opened in 1991 on Avenue I.