A behind the scenes tour of Edmonton police headquarters

Edmonton police headquarters looks smaller from the outside.

But when you start exploring inside, the size of the building and its rich, 124-year history are staggering.

Officers posing with the Mounted Patrol Horse in 1908. (Supplied by Edmonton Police Service)

In 1892, the town of Edmonton was incorporated with a population of 700, with Matthew McCauley as the first mayor. The Edmonton police department was created with a single constable to watch over the newly created town.

By 1908, following the Klondike years, police membership had risen, and included horses named Tom, Dick and Harry.

const. Harry Surcon in buffalo coat. (Supplied by the Edmonton Police Service)

As Edmonton grew, so did the department. By 1912, it had about 60 members, including the first female officer, Annie Jackson.

Over the years, the force has evolved to meet expanding city demands. But it wasn’t until 1947 that an official training course began. Before that, officers were sent out on patrol with just basic instructions.

Before uniforms were standardized, police women carried purses that had pockets for handcuffs and firearms. (Supplied by Edmonton Police Service)

For many years, female officers wore different uniforms. Some carried purses with special holsters for their firearms and handcuffs.

This 1977 Chevrolet Nova dates back to when Edmonton police vehicles were white and yellow. (Supplied by Edmonton Police Service)

The department’s fleet of vehicles has changed as well. It all started with a single Ford in 1911. Edmonton police, in 1919, became the first force to use an aircraft in a criminal pursuit. Motorcycles and bomb vans expanded the capabilities. Some Edmontonians will remember the yellow-and-white color scheme used on police cars for more than 20 years.

Downtown officers take someone into custody during a routine patrol. (CBC)

The department moved into its new headquarters in 1982. The building includes a 911 call center, holding cells, parking garage, major crimes unit and the downtown division. The name was changed to the Edmonton Police Service in 1989.

Officers on Patrol in Edmonton. (CBC)

There are now 1,790 sworn police officers, assisted by more than 700 civilians. In 2015, the department made 35,000 arrests.

Sgt. Steve Sharpe displays some of the photos and artifacts from the history of the Edmonton Police Service. (John Robertson/CBC)

Next year, Edmonton police will celebrate 125 years in operation. The department plans to roll out more of its history and is looking for assistance from people who have photographs or historical artifacts they may want to share. If you have something from the history of the Edmonton police, you can contact them at [email protected]

Video producer Rick Bremness and John Robertson outside the police headquarters. (John Robertson/CBC)

You can see more from Edmonton Police Service headquarters on Our Edmonton on Saturday at 9 am, Sunday at 11 am and Monday at 11 am on CBC TV.

Where should Our Edmonton visit next? You can email us at [email protected] with your suggestions.

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