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From its founding as the settlement of “Blooming Grove” in 1822, Bloomington remained a village until designated a town in 1831, when McLean County was created. It had a population of 150 by the time the first jail was built in 1832. The McLean County Sheriff and various deputies and watchmen provided law enforcement services until 1850. In August of that year, the Bloomington Police Department was created when Bloomington’s city government was chartered. Orrine Curtis was appointed the first City Marshall. Twelve officers were added between 1854 and 1870. Their foot patrols were in 12 hour shifts, six day a week. They were supplemented by a horse drawn patrol wagon.

In 1900 an officer on patrol discovered a fire in a laundry across the street from the old City Hall and Police Station at Monroe and East Streets. He sounded the alarm but the fire eventually destroyed the majority of the downtown. It was rebuilt, even better than before.

In 1915 the patrol wagon was replaced by a motorized REO Speedwagon. In the 1920’s, Ford automobiles, and motorcycles were used to patrol outlying areas of the growing city, while foot patrols still covered the downtown.
In the 1940’s radios were installed in the vehicles, replacing a call box system and signal light outside the station, that alerted officers on patrol of a waiting call. Thompson 45 caliber machine guns were also purchased for the force.

A new City Hall building was erected in 1961, housing the police department in the lower level. Additionally, Traffic and Youth Divisions were added and a 911 emergency telephone system was installed. About the same time, motorcycle patrol was phased out. 


Bloomington’s population reached 45,000 in the 1970’s and the number of sworn officers approached seventy. A Crime Prevention Unit was added to provide better public service.
In 1983, Task Force 6, a multi-jurisdictional covert operations unit, was formed to investigate drug and vice offenses. Bloomington Police have participated in that unit since its formation. In the following years, specialized positions were created for training, public affairs, crime scene investigations, and canines. Additionally, a field training program was developed to train new officers for the growing force.

In April of 1997 the department moved into a new police facility that included a modern crime laboratory, fitness center, and locker rooms. Within a few years the Information Services unit would oversee a local area network of 85 computers in the police building.

In the final decade of the century, Bloomington Police joined the McLean County Combined Communications System (METCOM) and a Vice and Narcotics Unit was formed, within the department, to supplement Task Force 6. Intelligence operations were coordinated by a Crime Analysis Unit and a Proactive Unit was added to focus on gang suppression.

By 2001, the EJS computer program had been developed to connect all components of the criminal justice system in McLean County. The Bloomington police force consisted of an authorized strength of 105 sworn officers and twenty civilian staff.

In 2006, about a year and a half after Bloomington exercised its option to withdraw from METCOM, a state-of-the-art Communications Center -- employing 17 full-time telecommunicators and serving both Bloomington Police and Fire Departments -- went online in the police facility.