History of Police Department

EARLY YEARS (1884 - 1907):

The City of Mebane was officially incorporated in 1881 as the Town of Mebanesville. The name was officially changed to the Town of Mebane in 1883. The first law enforcement officer for the Town of Mebane was Mr. J. Fitzgerald who was elected as constable on April 4, 1884. Constable Fitzgerald was the first of a line of eleven constables who would serve in the early years in the Town of Mebane, through 1907.

The first constable’s duties solely included: collecting taxes and working on the roadways. The primary job of the constable was to be the town's tax collector. The first paid constable that is documented was H.C. Smith who was paid 75 cents per day for street work and 5 percent commission on all taxes collected. As the years passed the constables working for the Town of Mebane had to begin working in more of a law enforcement capacity when another duty was added, to serve outstanding warrants.

On May 16, 1892, the Town of Mebane’s Commissioners ordered, then Constable T.P. Pettygrew to procure a badge and a “suitable” club. These two items were donated to the constable through citizens of the community. Following the added duties of serving warrants, soon more duties fell onto the constables. An interesting duty through order of a town ordinance took effect on March 21, 1899 when the Town of Mebane declared quarantine for the City of Burlington due to the flu pandemic. The Town of Mebane declared anyone traveling to or from the City of Burlington would be guilty of a misdemeanor, arrested on sight and fined twenty-five dollars


Name Start End
J. Fitzgerald 1884 1889
J.J. Young 1889 1892
T.P. Pettygrew 1892 1895
S.L. Burch 1895 1896
Henry Smith 1896 1897
H.B. Long 1897 1900
J.S. Cheek 1900 1901
J.W. Nelson 1901 1902
H.C. Smith 1902 1903
John Dollar 1904 1905
J. McCauley 1905 1907



In approximately 1907 the first Chief of Police, Roy Thompson, was elected. Chief Thompson served until 1913 when he was asked to resign by the Town's Commissioners. Following Chief Thompson's resignation Mr. R.P. Long was nominated the Chief of Police on June 2, 1913. In 1914 the Town's commissioners hired Mr. W.L. Clark as the Town Policeman (Police Chief) at a rate of forty dollars per month. Chief Clark's duties included all street work under the direction of the street committee and receive all fees / fines in accordance to arrests. In 1921 additional duties were added to the Police Chief. These duties include, water, plumbing, wiring and building inspector.

As the Town of Mebane continued to grow, so did its police department. On March 7, 1921 the Legislature in Raleigh granted the Town of Mebane, police and court powers to extend one mile outside of the corporate limits of the town. As of June 1, 1921 Chief W.B. Clark was receiving a salary of one hundred and twenty five dollars per month. In 1929 the Town of Mebane began to explore the need for a second police officer to work a night watch and other events.

Through the Great Depression the Town of Mebane and the police department suffered from the financial woes. Chief Patillo’s salary was cut twice from one hundred dollars a month to fifty dollars a month. Additionally, due to the finance woes facing the Town of Mebane the hiring of a second officer was put on hold for several years. Finally, in June of 1933 during the peak of the Great Depression the Town of Mebane hired its second police officer who served under Chief Patillo as the Towns first night watchman.

During the late 1940’s and early 1950 as the country came out of World War II and the economy was growing rapidly so did the Mebane Police Department. During the term of Chief C.J. Finnison, 1943-1948 the town funished a “police” apartment located above the fire station. The “police” apartment was designed for the night policeman to have somewhere to sleep while on duty. In 1946, the Town of Mebane bought the first police car, a 1946 Ford Coach, from C & H Motor Company, Inc. The purchase of the town’s police car changed a long standing policy of officers using their personal vehicles as police cars for which they were paid ten dollars a month by the town. On June 5, 1950 under Chief D.W. Smith the Town of Mebane purchased its first jail from Manley Works. To end the first half of the Nineteenth Century the Town of Mebane purchased their second police car a 1950 Plymouth and had five full time police officers including the Chief of Police.


The Mebane Police Department began the second half of the Nineteenth Century with Police Chief D.W. Smith. In 1953 the Town of Mebane authorized the police department to purchase its first radio at a total of $470.00. Chief D.W. Smith remained chief through the 1950’s and most of the 1960’s. In September 1968 Chief D.W. Smith became the first officer to pass away while employed at the Mebane Police Department. In the wake of Chief D.W. Smith’s death, Lieutenant Edgar Sykes was promoted to Chief of Police.

The 1970’s were filled with a time of growth for the Mebane Police Department. In 1971 the Town of Mebane passed a motion to send one officer to jailer school. On April 10, 1974 the Town of Mebane passed the “Dog Ordinance” which was the foundation of the Animal Control Laws that are enforced today. In April 1975 the Mebane Police Department applied for a grant, of $7145.00, to assist in the creation of the department’s first Criminal Investigations Division.

During the 1980’s the Mebane Police Department under Chief Lucas Lloyd made their first request to the Town Commissioners to have police dispatch handled by Alamance County Central Communications. In 1982 Chief Lloyd resigned and was replaced by Chief Grady Caviness. Later that year the State of North Carolina shut down the jail in Mebane. It was approved by the Town Commissioners to dispose of the jail to the highest bidder. In 1984 Chief Caviness made a request for the first bullet proof vests for the Mebane Police Department. Later that year the Mebane Police Department joined the Alamance County Vice Unit, establishing the need of a Vice officer for Mebane.

During the second half of the 1980’s the Mebane Police Department made their first request for RADAR units for traffic enforcement. In 1985 the Town of Mebane appointed their first Animal Control Officer who would work under public works. In 1987 Chief Caviness turned in his letter of resignation and Chief Gary Bumgarner was appointed to replace him. In 1987 the Town of Mebane officially changed to the City of Mebane. The 1980’s ended on a positive note for the Mebane Police Department and in 1989 the City of Mebane approved getting DCI, Division of Criminal Information.

In 2006 Chief Bumgarner retired as Chief. Chief Terrence Caldwell was appointed in 2006 and under his tenure the Mebane Police Department has continued to advance. The Mebane Police Department under Chief Caldwell formed its SRT (Special Response Team) in 2009. In 2010 the Mebane Police Department took a step to become more involved with the community and began its Community Oriented Police Program. In 2014 the Mebane Police Department discontinued their own dispatch system and the City Council approved having police dispatch handled by Alamance County Communications.


Name Start End
Roy Thompson Approx. 1907 1913
R.P. Long 1913 1914
W.L. Clark 1914 1916
W.T. Dillard 1916 1918
W.H. Wilkerson May 1918 June 1918 *(hurt)*
W.B. Cheek June 1918 Approx. 1921
J.L. Patillo 1921 1936
J.R. Long 1937 1939
H.J. Stockard 1939 1941
W.P. LeGrande 1941 1943
C.J. Finnison 1943 1948
A.H. Massey 1948 1950
D.W. Smith 1950 1968 *(Died While Chief)*
Edgar Sykes 1969 1973
Dan Tate 1973 1979
Luca Lloyd 1980 1982
Grady Caviness 1982 1987
Gary Bumgarner 1987 2006
Terrence Caldwell 2006 Current
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