Clovis Police Department History

Policing in the City of Clovis was relegated to County Constables until 1927, when Alvin Cole was elected as the first City Marshall. He was the only officer in charge of the area bounded by Sierra, Barstow, Sunnyside and Minnewawa. He did have the help of Louis Milanesi for a few years. Louis was a street-sweeper by day; an officer by night. He switched to the street department for good in the early 1930s.

In 1947, Bruce Spurgeon became Clovis’ first Chief of Police, and was one of the City’s four officers for a population of roughly 2,500. Tan uniforms were the order of the day. Ham Radio Operator and Officer Harry Rohde built the Department’s first radio system in 1956. It worked well in the city, but not for officers pursuing suspects beyond the boundary lines. In 1963, eight years after Thomas Higgason took the reigns as Chief, the Police Department moved in with the Fire Department where the DMV building stands now in downtown Clovis. All 9 employees, including the Department’s first female officer Frances Qualls, were all sworn. And, in order to get maximum use out of the Department’s two patrol cars, officers gave each other door-to-door pick-ups at home. Navy blue uniforms were standard issue.

In the 1960s, the Department began programs for youth like the Explorers and the Police Activities League, or PAL. Animal Control signed on with the Department in 1972. Officers wore light blue uniform shirts. From the DUI team in the early 80s, created to reduce alcohol-related accidents, to the technology of the 90s and beyond, “computer” and “digital” are now the buzz words in the department. Even many crimes are high tech these days. And, trucks are becoming the vehicle of choice for patrol units for some of the officers. Uniforms are, once again, dark blue.

In 2003, police and fire officials moved into a new 70,000 square foot Public Safety facility that features the latest in technology and design. The facility houses fire administration, investigators, inspectors, battalion chiefs, the fire marshal, and other officials, as well as police operations. For the first time, police administration, fire administration, records, dispatch, patrol, youth services, and investigations are all under one roof, affording better communication and service coordination. The communications center features all new equipment — from the top of the 185-foot antennae tower to consoles for the dispatchers.