Beginnings of the Department
The Village of Edina was incorporated in 1888. However, police protection did not start until March 1930 when the Village hired Pat Redpath as the first Village Marshal.
Before this time, protection was provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office. Redpath was paid $104.17 per month when he was first hired. His daily activity was logged in a handwritten book. He patrolled the village in a Tudor Ford, usually between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. A typical day of patrols required about five gallons of gasoline. If a citizen wanted to reach Redpath, they were instructed to call his home at “Walnut 2151” and hope they found him there.
In 1929, the Morningside Mayor asked the school janitor, 55-year-old George Weber if he would serve as the village marshal. He initially declined the job offer, but the council voted him in anyway. Weber served Morningside for the next 27 years. In 1956 with Weber’s retirement, the Edina Village Police began providing police protection to the Village of Morningside. Morningside was only 240 acres and was the smallest village in the state. Police headquarters for Morningside was at Weber’s home, 4400 Branson Street and run by his wife. His duties also included the water meter reader and census taker. Court was held in the Edina Grange Hall on the first and third Monday evenings. Justice of the Peace Webber Gilkey, Sr. presided over the hearings.
First Police Department Headquarters
In 1942, the village built a basement at 4801 West 50th Street for the first official Edina Police Department headquarters. This building was razed in 1954 after the completion of the new city hall which was on the same lot and assumed the address of 4801 W. 50th Street. The police department shared the basement of this building with the park department. In 2004, a new city hall and police department was built in the same lot after the Hennepin County Library building. The older city hall building was razed and the city continued to use the address of 4801.
In 1947, there were six officers; Hilding Dahl, Clayton Erickson, Bill Heydt, Clarence “Slim” Knutson (Captain), Don Nelson and Hank Wrobleski. Bill Heydt “walked the beat” in the country club area while the other officers patrolled in squad cars.
In 1954 the starting pay for a Police Officer was $309.00 a month and the Chief was paid $406.00 a month. This made Edina the third highest paying suburb in the area, behind St. Louis Park and Richfield. The population of Edina peaked at 15,000 people, which made it one of the larger suburbs in the Twin Cities at the time. The city and police department were planning on major growth within the community with the building of the Southdale Mall.
Chief Wayne Bennett
In 1955, Chief Wayne Bennett was hired to head the Police Department. Bennett had been a Police Officer in Albert Lea, MN. He was known as an innovative leader throughout the community. Chief Bennett often found himself speaking to judges, police officers, school officials and many different civic groups. When Bennett started with Edina, the department consisted of 8 Officers. When he retired in 1975, the department had grown to 45 Officers. Before Bennett was hired, Patrolman Lloyd McGary had been the acting chief. McGary returned to his duties as a patrolman when Bennett was hired. According to Bob Olson, McGary was a “quiet, but lots of fun” to be around.
Police Department Expansion
In 1968, the City Hall underwent a major remodel and the Police Department offices were expanded. The Park and Recreation Department was moved to the second floor and the Police Department acquired the remaining space in the basement. A new dispatch center was built at the crossroads between the front counter and the jail area. This would remain the center for communications until the next major overhaul of the Police Department in 1986.
First Female Officer
The first female police officer was hired in 1972. Judy Hanson worked as a Police School Liaison Officer in the schools. However, a few years later Kris Eidem was hired and became the first female patrol officer in 1978. In 1973, Patrolman Hilding “Ding” Dahl retired after 36 years of service. He has been sort of a legend at the police department; he remains the longest serving officer in Edina.
Special Entry Team
The department formed the Special Entry Team (SET) in 1986 to address rare tactical situations that required advanced training and equipment not available to all patrol officers. Which would later be renamed the Emergency Response Team (ERT), which continues to operate today with ten officers and four paramedics from the fire department.
In 2004, the Police Department took a major step forward into the future with the completion of a new building. For those who had worked in the cramped spaces of the old building knew that the department had outgrown the former building many years ago. The city had been researching options for several years. It was determined that the most cost effective and practical solution would be to build an entire new building that would house the city hall and police department. This was built on the same parcel of land as the existing building, after the Hennepin County library was razed. Part of the building extended into the existing city hall parking lot. Once the operations were moved to the new building, the old one was razed and made way for a large parking lot.
Over the last couple years, the existing parking lot was not large enough for the daily operations of the city hall and police department. The new police headquarters was increased to 25,000 square feet from the previous 5,000 square feet. A state of the art 911 communications center, utilizing an 800 megahertz radio system, was built in the new building. Before the move, Edina had been one of the last departments in the state that booked prisoners in a city jail without a secure transport garage. The new building had a fully detention center with a two car secure garage within the detention area. Underneath the new building, there is a heated garage that will accommodate 20 police cars. This will allow for secure parking and the medical equipment will no longer need to be removed from the squads after each shift and brought into the building in the cold winter months. The $10.2 million copper and stone building marks another move for Edina as it prepares to move into the future.
Local police officers are working with the Edina Historical Society to put together a comprehensive history of the Police Department. If you have any relevant information you would like to share, please contact Sergeant Kevin Rofidal.