Department History

For the City’s first 100 years, unpaid appointees, marshals and constables did their best to keep outhouse-moving pranksters, drunks and petty thieves in line. Serious misdemeanors and felonies were handled by the St. Charles County Sheriff’s office. Among O’Fallon’s marshals was Glennon Obrecht, who claimed he was appointed to the position because the mayor couldn’t get anyone else to do it.

The end of World War II brought prosperity and change to O’Fallon. As a harbinger, O’Fallon Garage was built next door to the blacksmith shop on Main Street. The first of O’Fallon’s subdivisions brought so many new families that the population doubled by 1959.

That year, the City hired its first paid police officer, Rich Wilson.

By the mid-1970s, O’Fallon still was a small town in a rural county.   City limits extended to the South Service Road, Gentemann Road (west), Highway P (north) and Highway 79 (east). Some roads were still dirt or gravel.

Citizen complaints included wandering cows. Homicides were rare. The typical crime was a burglary. If trouble occurred, officers could make an educated guess as to the culprit.

Until 1978, when O’Fallon trained the first female officer hired in the county, no women served as police officers.

Lt. Gregory Franz recalled that the department only hired “guys that were 200 pounds or better.” In those days, Franz said, the only thing O’Fallon had more of than churches were bars. On Friday and Saturday nights, police officers rolled from bar fight to bar fight.

Over the years, the department has had some humorous experiences:

  • In 1958, thieves robbed the Bank of O’Fallon of $10,000, then drove away in a car stolen from bank employee and civic leader Ozzie Maher. Discovering a dime in his pocket afterwards, Mr. Maher observed, “Well, they didn’t get everything.” They didn’t get away, either.
  • When a bank robber from Kansas City directed the clerk to crawl across the counter to him, she jumped down, knocking the money out of his hands. A bank officer walked by, picked it up and kept walking. The thief was arrested.
  • The “duct tape bandit,” a serial bank robber who hit an O’Fallon bank, was convicted with evidence from his trademark… immobilizing bank employees with duct tape.
  • In the early days of Mace usage, the department responded to a call about a man in Fort Zumwalt Park threatening his family with a knife. The weather was cold. Mace wouldn’t work unless it was warm. As officers tried to talk the man into dropping his knife, Police Chief Dan Granger hurriedly rubbed the can on his thigh to warm it up. But when he squirted the suspect, only a small, thin stream of Mace trickled out, just enough to hit the suspect’s shoe. The officers broke out laughing and so did the suspect.
  • When a house-painter crashed his truck into the Wabash Avenue bridge, paint cans popped open so violently that trees were sprayed white, paint poured out on the street when the cab door was opened, and the driver was found covered in white except for his eyes. He was sent to the hospital for a broken arm. His truck was towed to O’Fallon Garage, a dribble of white paint marking its passage up the street.