Lights, Sirens, Action
The Impacts of the Waukesha Police Station

The Waukesha Police Station in 1937.
Source: Waukesha Police Department

Introduction and The Architecture
The Waukesha Police Department (WKPD) has existed since 1896. In 1937, the WKPD built a station on Delafield Street because it needed more space. A newspaper described it as both modern and suburban. With a low-profile design it blended into its suburban surroundings but maintained its identity as a civic building by using elements from the colonial revival architectural style, often associated with governmental buildings, specifically its white portico entryway held up by four pillars. The building is covered with Lannon stone, a dolomitic limestone from a local Waukesha County quarry, which frequently appeared in local homes and reinforced the building's suburban essence.

The Waukesha Police Department taking a group photo.
Source: Waukesha Police Department

Construction begins on the 1964 addition

1937-1962: New Building, New Police Progress
This police station represents the professionalization of the WKPD. One step towards professionalization was creating the Detective Bureau in 1958. This separation between officers and detectives is an example of the WKPD becoming specialized. Additionally, in 1958, the WKPD became more inclusive when it hired its first female officer, Doris Francis, a step that became possible when male officers no longer considered women a distraction on the police force.

Finished 1964 addition
Source: Waukesha Police Department

1964-1968: Building Extension and Police Advancements
In 1964, the WKPD decided to expand the building because of the development of new programs. Five new rooms were added to the building: an assembly room, a lieutenant office, a detective office, an identification bureau, and a youth aid office. This new extension allowed the department to improve their quality of work. Additionally, it demonstrated a commitment to the community with their Youth Aid Program.

The modern communication center that was added in the 1973 extension.
Source: Waukesha Police Department

1972-1992: Another Extension to The End of an Era
In 1972, the WKPD realized it needed more space to fulfill the needs of the community. In 1973, the city approved the cost to expand the police station. With this additional space the WKPD added a division that was responsible for investigating narcotics and dangerous drugs. Additionally, it created a modern communications center to help better equip dispatchers with the tools they needed to help the public. 

The Waukesha Police Station in 2022.
Source: Brieanna Oremus

This police station represents the professionalization of the WKPD. As the department became specialized, it required space for these divisions to flourish. Moving to this building in 1937 allowed the WKPD to provide the highest quality of service to the people of Waukesha through specialized divisions such as the Detective Bureau, Identification Bureau, the Youth Aid Program, the Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Unit, and the modern Communication Center. 
1896 Waukesha Police Department was established
1937 Building was created
1937 Two-way radios
1939 New system to track stolen property
1958 Detective Bureau was made into a separate division
1958 The first woman hired to be a police officer
1960 Start handing out copies of tickets to people
1960 Starts the ambulance service for Waukesha
1960 Officers are given new summer uniforms
1962 Radar is used to track speeding
1964 Extension of building
1968 The dispatch position is created and separate from the on-duty sergeant
1973 The second extension of the building is made
1975 Police department no longer in charge of ambulance
1976 The police patch that is worn today is created and implemented
1981 Dispatch is in charge of dispatching both police and fire
1992 The police department stopped using the building
2021 Return to building because the new building is under construction
2022 Leave building for good
Why I choose this object?

My dad has been a police officer with the Waukesha Police Department for 27 years. Growing up, I loved hearing all the different stories that he would have from work. When I found out that I had to choose a Wisconsin Object for my history class, I knew that I wanted to find out more about Waukesha Police Department, as it had played a fundamental role in my life. With the department having the unique opportunity to move back into the station that they used from 1937-1992 in 2021, I knew that I wanted to discover and write about the history of this police station in hopes of shedding light on the importance of this building in regard to the history of the department and Waukesha as a whole.

Brieanna Oremus


History 401 [Spring 2022]

Leslie A. Bellais