Officer Dave M. Sumner was the first police officer in Blacksburg. He was hired around 1937. Officer Sumner was called "Highpockets" because he was so tall. In 1941 he organized the Boys Police Force with 18 high school boys as members. The boys directed traffic for the school, assisted at public gatherings on the school grounds, and served as junior police in the school.
A police call light was installed at the intersection of College Avenue and Main Street in 1949. Persons who wanted a policeman at night called the William Preston Hotel, and the call light, which flashed red, was turned on. The officer had to check on the light and then go to a call box and call in. In the 1960s the police department got a communications system. The Town of Blacksburg bought a radar set in 1957 for speed control within the town limits.
The police officers used to only work until 6 p. m. when everything switched to the sheriff's office. Local hours of duty were expanded in 1961.
In the 1950s, there was one chief and two officers. Chief Jack Goodwin from Salem was appointed the first Chief of Police by the Blacksburg Town Council in November 1954. He served from 1954-1963. In 1957 there were five officers and a chief.
William H. Brown, the current chief of police, joined the force in 1970. He was the first black oficer to be employed in the New River Valley and one of the first black police officers in the state. A native of Williamson, West Virginia, he attended Tazewell County Elementary and Christiansburg Institute. He graduated from the New River Valley Community College in the police science program. He was appointed to Lieutenant Commander of the Uniform Division in 1975.
In 1975 Jan Olinger became the first woman police officer on the Blacksburg force. The force had 22 officers in 1978. The 1998 Blacksburg Police Department has 76 employees (53 sworn).
Blacksburg Police Vehicles
Blacksburg Police Headquarters
Note:Images courtesy of Frances Garst, Data Processing Operator at the Blacksburg Police Station, Lieutenant Gary Teaster, James L. Underwood, and the Blacksburg Police Department