The City of East Lansing first authorized it's municipal police department in 1921. Before this, a Town Constable was appointed by the City Council to enforce laws. In 1921, the department consisted of the first police chief, Rev. John G. Biery and three officers. ELPD had a small jail, which was seldom used. At that time, the annual budget for the police department was $2,000.
In the early years, East Lansing was a very different place and the police work was of a different nature, including chicken thefts and stray cows. ELPD has records of noise complaints in response to the milk wagon that made its deliveries in the very early hours of the morning in the 1930's.
Separation From the College
After World War II, Michigan State College separated its police force from ELPD. ELPD Chief Art Brandstatter resigned and was appointed as the chief of the Michigan State College Police Force. Lt. Charles F. Pegg was then appointed as the ELPD police chief, a position which he held from 1946 until 1972.
Growth During the 1950's
The City of East Lansing continued to grow at a rapid pace, especially during the 1950's when Michigan State College became Michigan State University and the student population grew significantly. ELPD had to grow to meet the public safety needs of a thriving city and expanding college population.
Chief Pegg expanded his small police force of four officers into a force of more than 50 officers by the time that he retired in 1972. His successors, Chiefs Steve Naert, Bob Foster, Tom Hendricks, Lawton Connelly, Louis Muhn, Tom Wibert, Juli Liebler and Jeff Murphy all have made significant contributions in progressively improving the organization of the East Lansing Police Department.