History of BPS
The Belleville Police Service (BPS) has been keeping watch for more than 180 years over the community of Belleville. In 1836 the village of Belleville swore in its first two constables, Henry Avrill and Hiram Fulford. The village had a population of approximately 1,000 and encompassed an area of 613 acres at the mouth of the Moira River.
The police service’s early beginnings make it one of the oldest police services in Canada, pre-dating the Kingston Police (founded in 1841), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (founded in 1873) and the Ontario Provincial Police (established in 1909).
As the years passed the community continued to grow in both population and area, becoming a town in 1850 and a full-fledged city in 1878. By this time, the Belleville Police Service had grown to six members for a population of over 9,500 living in an area of 1,760 acres.
By the middle of the Second World War, under newly-hired Chief Robert Walter Probert, BPS had 10 members including the chief, a deputy, two sergeants and six constables.
Belleville experienced significant increases in both area and population in the post-war years. In 1959 the city more than doubled in area and by 1965 BPS had grown significantly and the Chief John B. McLauchlan commanded 41 employees including five sergeants, 27 constables and seven plainclothes constables.
The city, which is the county seat, has grown into a regional centre for the Bay of Quinte area and is a hub for surrounding towns and a gateway to Prince Edward County. Today, BPS employs 96 sworn officers, 45 full-time civilian support staff and 11 part-time civilians.
The equipment needs have changed along with the increased area and responsibilities, as has the technological sophistication of the equipment utilized by the officers in the performance of their day-to-day duties.
In 1936 a Belleville police sergeant is credited with hooking up one of the first radio receivers in a police cruiser in Canada. Sgt. John Booth constructed a unit using second-hand parts and installed it in the department’s single police cruiser. A 287-foot aerial wire was strung from the roof of the police station to the city hall clock tower. The total outfit, cost a mere $30, proved its worth on the very first night it was tested when the police caught a ‘window peeper’ at the Belleville General Hospital. The Belleville Intelligencer enthusiastically reported on the incident and stated that the success of the short-wave radio in Belleville “doubtless will pioneer police short-wave radio hookups throughout the Dominion.”
The Belleville Police have been headquartered in a number of buildings over the years. Originally housed in the Fire Hall on Front Street, BPS moved into the newly-constructed City Hall in 1873. In 1905 the headquarters was moved into the Village Hall, located on Market Square, and remained there for sixty years and then moved again, to the 50 year old YMCA building on Campbell Street. Twenty years later the City searched for new accommodations. In August 1985 BPS moved to 93 Dundas Street East, the former Calvary Temple. BPS are preparing to move in May 2020 to the corner of Sidney Street and College Street West.
CHIEFS OF POLICE
William A Haseltine -- 1850-?
Hugh McKinnon -- 1877-1886
John Newton -- 1886-1919
Alexander Kidd -- 1920-1942
Robert Walter Probert -- 1942-1963
John B. McLauchlan -- 1963-1967
Douglas T. Crosbie -- 1968-1985
Robert L. Begbie -- 1985-1993
David W. Klenavic -- 1993-2001
Stephen J. Tanner -- 2002-2008
Cory L. McMullan/MacKay -- 2009-2016
Ronald J. Gignac -- 2017-present
Please click here for the History of the Belleville Police Service as written by Gerry Boyce