The Lovington Police Department has evolved tremendously over the last 115 years. Lovington came into existence in 1908 and was no different than other small budding towns, they needed someone to enforce laws and ordinances. In the beginning there were constables and town marshals such as C.M. Bullard who was constable in 1914, his deputy constable was C.M. Burks. The first name on a list of former Lovington Chiefs of Police was Harry Hinneber but the history on him is a little cloudy.
It is known that Hinneber was a Town Marshal from May 15, 1918 to June 11, 1919 but the words Chief of Police are nowhere to be found. Shortly after Harry Hinneber was “dismissed” by the Village Trustees, R.W. Keenum took over as Town Marshal.
The first recorded Chief was William J. Pruit who served from July 11, 1919 to July 13, 1921.Much of his time as Chief, Pruit was half the police force, the other half was a night policeman/night watchman. Those early paychecks for the Chief were in the neighborhood of $80 to $110 a month and a little over half that amount for the night policeman/watchman. The police car in those early days was the Chief’s as well as his night policeman’s privately owned vehicle and they were given a gallon of gas a day to perform their duties. Up into the 1940s the Chief was given up to $50 a month for gasoline and car maintenance.
In December 1938 the town trustees decided the Chief of Police needed a uniform, without any input from the Chief his new uniform consisted of an olive drab suit, an Army officers’ hat and a new badge.
There was no official police building, the Chief worked out of his house and was given a small telephone allowance to offset the monthly expense. In mid-1940 the city had a red light mounted on top of the courthouse as an emergency signal for the police.
In August of 1941 the town trustees authorized the Chief having 12 auxiliary police officers. Those appointed were: Wesley Allen; W.E. Mayberry; Roy McAdams; Albert Spradling; Ben Clinch; Troy Warren; Jim Beverly; Justin Adams; Joe Smith; Woodrow Woods; Dale Phillips and Tom Johnson.
In 1941 a fire station was built at 119 South Love Street just south of the Hotel, the southwest corner of the building was the police station. There was even a small jail cell in the back of the fire/police station. Later, this building also housed city hall after an addition was constructed on the north side of the fire station. By 1942 the Chief of Police was making $1518 a year and his officer was making $533 annually.
In 1950 the city of Lovington bought its first official police car. A call for bids was put out and the low bidder was Jackson Chevrolet, that brand new Chevrolet car cost the city $677.10.
The police department remained in the same building with the fire department until April of 1962 when a new police department and city hall was built across Love Street and a block south at 214 S. Love. This building housed the police department, city hall and the MVD.
Then once again, as in the past the Lovington Police Department out grew its working space and had to move. In 1984 the P.D. moved across the street into a new, larger and more up to date facility and that is where they are today. As in their beginning so many years ago, the Lovington Police Department and Fire Department are sharing a building.
The Lovington Police Department would like to thank Mr. David Minton for his help and input on this project.