1937-1951

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The Administration of Chief L.L. Jarvis

During Chief Caffey's leave of absence, Captain Luther L. Jarvis was appointed Acting Chief of Police. Jarvis held that position until being sworn in as the 12th Chief of Police on April 1, 1937. During his administration, the Department took some of its first steps toward true law enforcement professionalism.

On October 1, 1937, Chief Jarvis distributed a Police Manual of Rules and Regulations to the city's 65 sworn police officers. This manual was designed to be carried in an officer's pocket and spelled out exactly what was expected of a Greensboro officer. In its introduction, Chief Jarvis wrote, "My ideal for the force is leadership in all ranks, based on personal example. I shall be satisfied only when the fact is nationally recognized that the Greensboro Police Force is the best in the country."

Some of the manual's regulations sound similar to regulations used today, while others clearly reflect the environment of the 1930s. According to the Rules and Regulations, an officer was required to stay in the public view and to make an immediate investigation when he observed a circumstance of suspicious nature. The beat officer was to call for assistance using one of two methods: three blasts on his whistle, or one shot fired into the air. Three types of posts were specified to perform the police function: traffic posts, used to direct traffic; patrol posts used by beat officers; and temporary posts used for all other duties such as parades and stake-outs. An officer could not leave his post except in the event of an emergency.

On January 21, 1938, the first major course of study for police officers was presented by the Department. This in-service type of school, which appears to have been the forerunner of the present day Police Basic Introductory Course, focused on basic police functions.

By 1939, the Department had grown to 94 sworn officers. Personnel were assigned to one of the following units: Uniformed, Traffic, Plainclothes, Identification, Jail Warden or Court Officer. By 1941, the Department had 10 patrol cars, six detective cars, four three-wheel motorcycles and five solo motorcycles. The city's population had grown to 66,000 by 1945 and the Department totaled 96 sworn officers. By 1947, this figure had risen to 104 sworn officers. This growth continued through 1950, with a population in that year of 74,000 and 114 sworn officers.

First Black Officers

On January 19, 1944 Samuel A. Penn and John L. Montgomery became the first black officers in the Greensboro Police Department. Their appointment followed a City Council vote on November 29, 1943 to approve hiring Negro police officers “as most people who were asked believe that negro citizens and taxpayers are entitled to the services of negro officers.” The starting pay for the officers was $140.80 a month, the standard salary for beginning officers on the Greensboro force. However, the officers could arrest only other black citizens.

In February 1945, Chief L.L. Jarvis describes the work of the officers as “commendable” and recommends hiring more black officers. In December 1947, the Greensboro Daily News reports that “Greensboro’s highly effective use of Negro officers during the past three years has brought widespread recognition both from other municipalities and local residents.”

Meter Maids

One of the final changes of importance that took place during the Jarvis administration occurred in 1951. On August 3 of that year, six women were hired to enforce parking regulations. They received one week of training in traffic regulations, public relations and city geography. They then worked two days under the supervision of a field officer. Nicknamed "meter maids," their employment reflected the progressive attitude of Chief Jarvis' administration.