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Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history
(1998)

7. Government,   pp. 129-146


Page 142

fire department increased its fire-fighter training program. In particular, training for rescues
and medical emergencies was upgraded and continued to improve during the 1960s. (Sheridan
1989:85-113)
The rapid expansion of Janesville during the post-World War II era created new suburbs that
were a distance from the two fire stations built in the 1950s. So in 1970, Fire Station No. 3 was
erected at 435 N. Crosby Ave. to serve the west side of the city. In 1980, Fire Station No. 4 was
erected at 4117 E. Milwaukee St. to serve the east side suburbs. In 1985-86, the fire department
constructed a modem training facility. Today, the City of Janesville has a modem, efficient
fire department that provides up-to-date fire, rescue, and ambulance services to the community.
(Sheridan 1989:120-174)
There are no historic resources associated with the fire department still extant in Janesville.
The old fire houses were razed after they outlived their usefulness so that today, only the post-
World War II fire stations are still extant. These buildings are too modem to be potentially
individually eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Fire Station No. 2 at 906 W.
Racine St. is listed in the National Register as a non-contributing resource in the Old Fourth
Ward Historic District.
Police Department
During the nineteenth century, the city's police force was small. After city incorporation in
1853, constables and justices of the peace were appointed in each city ward to deal with any
criminal activity. In 1856, the state legislature created the position of police justice, or
municipal judge, and eliminated justices of the peace. Although crime may not have been as
frequent or as visible as it is today, there were lawbreakers in the city, including robbers, con
artists, a few murderers, and people engaged in illegal liquor sales. In 1879, the police force
consisted of five constables and a city marshal. Prior to 1876, the tiny police department was
housed in rented buildings. When city offices moved into the new fire station on North River
Street, the police department moved to the old firehouse a few doors away (not extant). ("First
Police Force Formed in 1853" 1985:7H; Butterfield 1879"575-579)
The city appointed the first police chief in 1897; the most frequent police activity at that time
was handling drunks. In 1919, when Prohibition took effect, it was reported that there was a
76-percent decline in alcohol-related arrests. Although drunkenness was on the decline, there
was a growth in police-related services during the 1920s. In particular, more automobiles in
town resulted in expanded city traffic regulation, and automobile theft became a growing
problem. ("First Force Formed in 1853" 1985:7H)
In 1939, the County Sheriff's department began a radio-call system that Janesville tapped into
later in the year. Janesville's police department began to grow, and its professionalism
increased during the post-World War II era. Chief Jasper Webb, who was trained by the FBI,
led these changes. He introduced an officer training program, established a detective division,
and modernized the administration of the department. There were some police controversies
during the twentieth century, but overall, Janesville developed a clean and efficient police
force. ("First Force Formed in 1853" 1985:7H)
By the mid-1980s, the Janesville Police Department consisted of almost 70 officers, 20 civilian
employees, and a large fleet of motor vehicles. Police administration today is modem and
computerized, and officers are involved in crime-prevention programs like block watches and
anti-drug programs in the schools.
Government
142


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