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Policemen patrolling their beat on bicycles, Lake Foresters riding in open horse-drawn carriages, and signs advertising “All the Root Beer You Can Drink for a Nickel” were sights the traveler took in while visiting this city in 1895. During that time, the police force of Lake Forest consisted of one man.
During World War II, the strength of the agency reached its peak with more than 50 members. Approximately 30 of these were auxiliary police, resident civilians who became members of the City’s Office of Civilian Defense and who trained for whatever emergency the war could have staged.
In 1895, when Lake Forest’s one policeman rode his bicycle through town, his ambition was to have a motor propelled vehicle in order to cover the area more efficiently. Later, with the invention of the auto, the City purchased a vehicle, then a motorcycle, steadily advancing communications.
Until 1932, policemen on beat were able to contact headquarters only by a system of call boxes located at eight strategic places in Lake Forest. Temporarily meeting the problem was the installation of a one-way radio system. Receivers were installed in the three squad cars and messages from the station were relayed by phone to the Chicago Police Department’s transmitting unit. In 1934 two-way radio sets improved communication, and in 1935, several officers were schooled in fingerprinting and photographing, after which the department inaugurated a Bureau of Identification.
Today the Department continues to stay in pace with the growth of Lake Forest.