BROWNSVILLE, Texas — When it comes to law and order, you are talking about a hard job. Throughout the Throwback Thursday series many hard jobs have been discussed but this one was really something.
It was said at the time of the Civil War Texas was the most lawless state in the Confederacy and Brownsville was the rowdiest city. The first “police station” was in the town hall. It was a combination of city hall and city marketplace that was built in 1852. The policing of the town at that time, the recruits that were brought in for policemen or as patrolmen as you would call them, were under the power of the marshal. Then over them was lieutenant of the police. Officially Brownsville did not have an actual police force until 1891. Uniforms were not required until 1905.
The essentials of a police officers’ uniform at that time? You probably had a hat, you did not have a gun because the only one who had one was the lieutenant of the police. A nightstick and a whistle completed the uniform. The whistle was the early walkie-talkie. The police officers of that time did not have all the equipment that is available now. There was a series of tweets that one officer from one precinct would blow on his whistle, and the other officer would understand this. When the town bell was ringing that meant that everybody came out of their houses and assisted in the law effort.
Into the latter part of the 20th Century, the police station was at market square. When Fort Brown was turned over to the city in 1946, the headquarters was right at Fort Brown. In the 1960s the station was moved to Washington Street and after that, it went onto Jackson Street.
The Brownsville Police has come a long way over this 130 year period. of a hundred and thirty-something years of having a police department. If today’s officers were to go back in time to the start of the Brownsville PD, it would be like a Martian coming upon the scene. But the police have evolved, and have done what was needed in order to fit the atmosphere of what peacekeepers were put up against.