Prior to 1924, while the City of Orange was without a charter, the city marshal was the chief law enforcement officer for the City of Orange. As an elected official, he was responsible for the enforcement of the local ordinances, keeping the peace, and other matters delegated by the mayor. The city marshal was assisted by various other persons often designated as "night watchman" or "special police."
New City Charter
The new City Charter of 1914 officially established the Orange Police Department. The office of city marshal was abolished, and on August 13, 1914, the City created the office of Chief of Police. The chief was appointed by the Mayor, on the advice and consent of the Board of Commissions.
J. T. Carter was the first police chief for the Orange Police Department. He served two terms as head of the department. During that time, the department also consisted of a night chief and two patrol officers. These men worked out of City Hall.
In 1944, the surviving children of Dr. E W Brown presented the Brown homestead, and surrounding property, as a gift to the City of Orange. This property included the "garage building" behind City Hall. Although initially referred to as the "City Jail", this garage became the first real home for the Orange Police Department.
First Police Building
The Orange Police Department completed the move to their first police building in September of 1945. Even though this was officially the police department, certain offices remained at city hall. These included offices for the chief of police, the identification officer, and the corporation court. At this new facility, officers shared office space with various other groups, such as the Internal Revenue Bureau and the Navy Shore Patrol. Over the next thirty years the department grew, outside agencies vacated needed office space, and all police employees were eventually housed at the police building. Only corporation court remained at City Hall.
In 1972 the City recognized the need for a new station. They considered three options; to remodel the old building, construct a new facility, or purchase an existing building to serve as a police station. The City decided to purchase, and remodel, the First Savings and Loan Association building located at 207 N 7th Street. The address became 805 Main Street.
Public Safety Building
The Orange Police Department moved to 805 Main Street in 1976. This was officially called the "Public Safety Building". Municipal Court remained at City Hall for a time, while certain space in the police building was shared with the water department. Eventually, the court would move to the Main Street address, and the water department would relocate to another building.
The building at 805 Main Street was never designed as a police facility. It was an alternative, and an effort to provide adequate space for the department while providing a more secure environment for the men and women who worked there. This effort fell short in both respects, even though it did serve the basic needs of the department, and the public, for a quarter of a century.
Since the early 1970s, the department has experienced significant growth. As we entered into the age of technology, the functions of both the police and the court became more complex. Space was simply not adequate to accommodate this growth. Even with the departure of the Water Department, the present facility was not an adequate facility from which to deliver safe, effective, and efficient law enforcement services.
For at least ten years prior to the actual construction of the new facility options were explored that ranged from remodeling and adding onto the present facility, acquiring an existing structure in town and modifying it for police and court purposes, or building a completely new structure.
An analysis of cost associated revealed that the cost to renovate an existing structure if one were available, was comparable to the cost of a new facility. The City of Orange had also recently adopted a new master plan relating to growth and development in the city. As a part of this plan, city leaders adopted a plan that placed a high priority on downtown development and centralization of City services. Given these factors, it was determined that a new facility should be built in a downtown area convenient to the citizens and appropriate for the delivery of law enforcement services.
On August 17, 1999, the City of Orange awarded a contract for the construction of a new Police/Court facility. This two-story structure is not only designed for the police department and the court but is a facility to be shared by the public and organizations within the community.