The Salem Police Department possesses a rich and honorable heritage. With an authorized strength of 100 full-time and part time employees, the Department's primary mission is to protect the life, individual liberty and property of all people within the City of Salem, Virginia. The roots of the Department go back to 1802 when the village of Salem was initially carved from Botetourt County. Records show that the Town of Salem was policed by a town Sergeant from the mid 1830's until 1922 when a more formalized police force was instituted.
With the passage of over seventy five years of professional service, three officers have provided the ultimate sacrifice. They stand today as symbols of courage and honor to the men and women who currently serve the City in the most honorable profession....policing.
W.A. Vest, Chief of Police 1922 – 1934
W. A. Vest was appointed Town Sergeant in 1910 and served until 1922 at which time he was elected to the newly formed position of Chief of Police. The Department at that time consisted of the chief and three officers. The Chief's position was temporarily discontinued in 1934 and reinstated in 1937.
Ronald Frier, Chief of Police 1937 – 1947
On July 1, 1937 Ronald Frier was appointed Chief of Police. Chief Frier served until July 1, 1947. As of this date, George T. Eades was appointed Chief of Police and faithfully served the town (later the young city as of 01/01/68) in this capacity for 28 years, 3 months.
George T. Eades, Chief of Police 1947 – 1975
During the tenure of Chief Eades, the Department expanded considerably to meet the needs of the growing community. The Police Headquarters building was relocated from 19 North College Avenue to present quarters at 36 East Calhoun Street in 1964. He also redesigned the Department's shoulder patch insignia, replacing the pentagonal patch with the predecessor of the current insignia.
Harry T. Haskins, Chief of Police 1975 – 1995
On November 1, 1975, Harry T. Haskins, Jr. was appointed Chief of Police. The Department benefited from gains in manpower, modern equipment, new styled uniforms and police vehicles. During his twenty years of service, the Department was reconstructed for optimum efficiency to include the acquisition of modern computer systems and data storage equipment as well as gains in tools of criminal investigation such as the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) and imaging. A SWAT Team was organized and the D.A.R.E. Program was initiated in City Schools. In 1991, Salem Camp D.A.R.E. was founded for the youth of the City.
James R. Bryant, Chief of Police 1995- 2009
James R. Bryant, who started his career as a Salem Patrolman in 1966, was appointed Chief Of Police on November 1, 1995. Having served under two previous Chiefs of Police, Chief Bryant is well prepared to lead the Department into the twenty first century. As the first director of Salem Camp D.A.R.E., a nationally acclaimed project, Chief Bryant is committed to the development of community relations. He advocates specialized training for personnel and strives to enhance the equipment and facilities of the Department..