In 1957, beset by continued threats of losing local identity through annexation, the residents of the Town of Greenfield chose to incorporate as a city. The new City of Greenfield received its articles of incorporation from the State of Wisconsin on February 4, 1957.
In its early years, the fledgling city continued to employ a constable to perform law enforcement duties. On September 5, 1962 when City Ordinance #167 was passed, authorizing the appointment of a Chief of Police and "other such subordinates as the Chief shall appoint", the Greenfield Police Department was born. Appointed as the first Chief was Clifford Ruck, a Captain with the West Allis Police Department. Chief Ruck in turn appointed 6 police officers.
Primary Police Service Agency
At its inception, the department became the primary police service agency for the city. With no equipment and so few personnel, however, the County Sheriff was relied upon heavily for assistance. In the early years, the Police Department provided service from 6 a.m. to midnight, with the Sheriff's Department handling calls for service in the overnight hours. Steady growth and the addition of personnel allowed the Police Department to take over full time law enforcement duties on January 1, 1965.
The 2nd Chief of Police, Howard Wahlen, was appointed upon Chief Ruck's retirement in 1964. Chief Wahlen had been the 3rd highest-ranking member of the Milwaukee Police Department having served for more than 28 years and attaining the rank of Deputy Inspector. Some of Chief Wahlen's many accomplishments included the establishment of the Police Auxiliary Corps on June 2, 1965 and the implementation of a systematic program for the training of the regular and auxiliary officers. Under the command of Chief Wahlen, the department expanded from 13 employees in 1965 to 29 full time and 18 part time employees at the time of his retirement in 1973. Chief Wahlen later returned to city service, being elected mayor and serving from 1976 to 1980.
When Chief Wahlen retired, Ernst Huck, one of the department's original 6 officers and now a Captain, was appointed to succeed him. Tragically, however, Captain Huck passed away before taking office. On August 21, 1973, Chester Kass was appointed as the 3rd Chief of Police. Chief Kass came to the Department with over 24 years of law enforcement experience, serving with the Wisconsin State Patrol, Wauwatosa and Muskego Police Departments.
Chief Kass oversaw the construction of a new police station, which was completed in 1975, as well as the dramatic expansion of the Department to 81 full time and 30 part time personnel. Chief Kass also continued the process of improving training and equipment. Chief Kass retired on June 30, 1993 in his 20th year as Chief. Richard Karweik, the Deputy Chief, was appointed Interim Chief during the selection process for Chief Kass' successor.
After an 8-month search, Francis C. Springob, the Department's Administrative Lieutenant, was appointed Chief on February 16, 1994. Chief Springob began his law enforcement career with the Greenfield Police Department on January 1, 1965. He was promoted to Sergeant in 1973, to Lieutenant in 1979, and served 6 years with the 32nd Military Police Company. Chief Springob retired in June, 2011.
After serving as Interim Chief upon Chief Springob’s retirement Bradley Wentlandt was selected by the Police and Fire Commission to serve as the Department’s 5th Chief of Police.
Throughout its history, the Greenfield Police Department has been recognized as one of the preeminent law enforcement agencies in southeastern Wisconsin. It is the goal of every member of this department to continue the honorable and professional traditions of our past while looking toward the future.