History Overview

At the time of Roseburg's incorporation in 1872, the city council, then known as the Board of Trustees, established the position of City Marshal, which was salaried at $75 per month. The Marshal could also receive compensation for various other tasks as required, in order to supplement the monthly stipend. Interestingly the salary level persisted until the 1930s when it was increased. In 1886 the Trustees provided a badge at the cost of ten dollars and the Marshal was to be "... held good for it" should it be lost.

The City Marshal was an elected official until 1902 when the city's charter was changed to make it an appointive position. On several occasions the minutes of the Board of Trustees referred to the position as "Chief of Police" or as the city "Policeman". Eventually the name became common and the Roseburg Police Department was created.

In 1878, a second officer was added to patrol the streets during the nighttime hours to provide security, maintain order, and report unusual occurrences. This individual was known as the "night watchman" and that moniker remained for many decades. On the occasion of special events such as the 4th of July celebrations or at times when the circus was in town, three or four special police officers would be added to the force on a temporary basis to deal with unruly behavior. In 1927, a third officer was added and by 1947 the police department consisted of a chief, sergeant, three traffic officers and four patrolmen. Also in 1947 the city charter was again modified, creating the office of City Manager, who was appointed by the City Council. The manager was given the authority to appoint all city department heads including the Police Chief.

The position of City Marshal was an important one in early Roseburg history. A citizen wrote the following characterization of Lee Rodenberger, the first Roseburg City Marshal.

"When speaking or writing of the City of Roseburg at the time of it's incorporation, one name invariably comes to the front, that of the Marshal. Lee Rodenberger was a strong, fearless man in the discharge of his duties. Many a lawbreaker met grief and chagrin, and furnished amusement for the by-standers when Lee Rodenberger sallied forth for arrest."

The duties of the early officers, up until about 1920, were related to the main concerns of the times. In addition to enforcing state laws and city ordinances, they also took care of the following tasks:

  • Keeping cows and dogs from running loose in town.Old_police_photo.jpg
  • Making repairs to the jail.
  • Getting meals to prisoners.
  • Collecting city license fees and delinquent taxes (he kept 3% as a fee).
  • Lighting kerosene lamps on posts at intersections downtown.
  • Checking flues of businesses and homes as a form of fire protection.
  • Locking up city ladders.
  • Making street repairs as necessary.
  • Making the "calaboose" strong and secure so as to forestall escapes.
  • Install lamp posts as needed.
  • Buying and storing kerosene for lamps.
  • Repairing kerosene lamps.
  • Checking complaints of offensive manure piles.
  • Flushing sewers when needed.
  • Flushing the dirt and gravel streets, making sure the ditches carry the water to the river.
  • Killing and burying stray dogs ($2 fee for doing this).
  • Burying dead cats (50-cent fee).
  • Supervising prisoners assigned to work on city streets.
  • Checking complaints of offensive privies.
  • Making sure "not to permit children on the streets in company of each other".
  • Removing a tumbled down Chinese Laundry.
  • Examine and repair wooden crosswalks as necessary.
  • Put in two culverts at the Odd Fellows Cemetery.
  • Putting gravel under the hitching post at the Courthouse.
  • Securing a pound for stray cattle.
  • Preventing gambling by circus laborers.
  • Buying rope for the fire bell.
  • Notifying all physicians that in the city, they must not ride any faster than 6 miles per hour, violators were to be arrested.
  • Attending to janitor work at City Hall.

While it is quite obvious that the professional standards and responsibilities of law enforcement officers in Roseburg have changed in the ensuing 132 years, there remains a common thread ... service to the public. Our first police officer, Lee Rodenberger, apparently impressed the citizens he served and protected in 1872 and thereby established the foundation for those that provide that service today.

Past Chiefs

Lee C. Rodenberger 1872 - 1873
Peter Kerns 1874 - 1877
Albert Baird 1878
A. C. Cox 1879 - 1881
H. C. Slocum 1881 (7 months)
Henry Bowen 1882
Thomas Grisdale 1883 (7 months)
George J. Langeburg 1884 - 1885
John Howard 1886
Timothy Ford 1887 - 1890
F. W. Carroll 1891 - 1892
James F. Templin 1893
F. W. Carroll 1894
J. B. Cannon 1895 - 1896
F. W. Dillard; 1897 - 1902
Duel J. Jarvis 1902 - 1906
I. J. Norman 1907 - 1908
G. D. Palm 1909 (3 months)
Joseph Huffman 1909 - 1911
B. Felton 1912
T. J. Williams 1913 - 1917
D. R. Shambrook 1918 - 1921
L. L. Mathews 1922 (10 months)
I. S. Ketch 1922 - 1926
William Vaughan 1927 - 1934
John S. Duer 1935 - 1941
William Moar 1941 - 1942
Erwin Short 1942 - 1946
O. A. Kennerly 1947
Calvin Baird 1948 - 1951
Lloyd Larsen 1951
Ted Mazac 1952
Stanley Olson 1952 - 1956
Carl E. Rumpf 1956 - 1957
Vernon M. Murdoch 1957 - 1961
John T. Truett 1961 - 1968
Roy H. Keene 1968 - 1973
Charles F. Wuergler 1973 - 1987
Hedge J. Jarvis 1987 - 1992
John R. Hodgson 1992 - 1998
Chris P. Brown 1999 - 2003
Mark S. Nickel 2003 - 2010
Jim Burge 2010 - Current