In the 1800’s, what is now known as the City of Kissimmee, was just a small trading post on the northern banks of Lake Tohopekaliga. Before becoming the City of Kissimmee, the town was named Allendale after Civil War Confederate Major; JH Allen who operated a cargo steamboat along the Kissimmee River. At the time Allendale was part of southern Orange County.
During that time law enforcement presence was sporadic at best. Two constables would travel by horseback from Orlando to Allendale on a weekly basis.
In 1882, the individuals living in Allendale chose to incorporate the town and officially became the City of Kissimmee. After the incorporation, leadership positions were created and the first elections occurred.
On March 26, 1883, Kissimmee elected its first Town Marshal: David Bass. In 1891, the Marshal also became the City Tax Collector. Records of Kissimmee’s earliest history were destroyed in a fire at City Hall on October 16, 1891. In addition to the records, the office of the Town Marshal was also destroyed.
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office allowed the Kissimmee Marshal to jail prisoners at it’s facility which was previously located along Drury Avenue and Thurman Street. This is the first evidence of the congenial partnership the City and County still share today.
In 1891, the Marshal’s monthly salary was $40.00. Adjusted for inflation $40.00 per month now equates to about $1,109.00 per month. On top of the meager salary, City leaders had the right to fine the Marshal if they felt he did not properly carry out his duties.
Records show the City fined Marshal John McPhatter $1 for failing to collect a dollar from the owner of an impounded horse in December 1891.
In 1937, the Kissimmee Police Department expanded to three employees. The Chief was Frank Milsap and he was assisted by two officers: “Cap” May and Fred Lorenz. The expansion of the Agency was dictated by the growth of Kissimmee. By 1937, the population increased to 3,500 people. That means there were about 1,166 Kissimmee residents per member of the Kissimmee Police Department. Over the next twelve years, the population grew to 4,310 people, which caused another expansion of the Kissimmee Police Department. Under the guidance of Police Chief Charlie Driggers, the agency expanded to four officers with an annual budget of just under $23,000.00.
After Chief Drigger’s departure, Robert Best was sworn in as the new Kissimmee Chief of Police. Chief Best served as Chief for 15 years. He expanded the agency to eleven sworn officers and saw the budget increase to $100,000.00 in 1964.
Following Chief Best’s departure in 1967 through the early 1970s, Kissimmee and the Kissimmee Police Department doubled in size. The large increase in population and police force was a direct result of Disney World opening in 1974. That year, 12 new officers were hired to handle the ever increasing activity.
Over the years the City not only grew in population size, but also in square miles. Kissimmee expanded to 20.95 square miles, with annexation always an option.
In the last 25 years, the population of the City of Kissimmee has more than doubled, and so has the Police Department. Today, there are 147 sworn Police Officers and 88 civilian staff members of the Kissimmee Police Department.
(1991 v. 2018)