Community History – Ludlow – Police Department

Ludlow Police Department

The Ludlow Police Department had its inception in 1864, when the city was chartered by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In that year, Thomas Hamilton was named the first town marshal.

Like many railroad towns of the era, Ludlow had its fair share of lawlessness. This was particularly true of the 1870s when the Southern Railroad was being constructed. Railroad construction workers were often living away from their families. Drinking and gambling were the inevitable result. Once the railroad was completed, however, things settled down in the city. In 1874, the town hired its first deputy town marshal, William Turner.

The office of town marshal was changed to chief of police in 1893 with the passage of the new Kentucky Constitution. That year, Robert E. Callahan was elected the first Ludlow Chief of Police. Callahan became a beloved figure in the community. He held the position of chief from 1893 until his death in 1936, a period of over 43 years. Callahan expanded the department to include a night watchman in 1893. The first night watchman was Nicholas Bodkins.

When the new combination firehouse and city building was completed in 1923 on Oak Street, the police department moved into this structure. Five years later, in 1928, financial difficulties forced the city council to reduce the number of night patrolman from

two to one. Over 900 citizens presented a petition to the council asking that the council rescind the order. Council refused to do so.

The next chief was Harvey Searp. Searp joined the force in 1929 as a patrolman. He was appointed chief in August 1936 and held the position until 1964. Searp was succeeded by W.E. “Bud” Kenney in 1964.

In 1967, a portion of the city garage on Elm Street was remodeled to provide adequate office space for the police department. The new air-conditioned headquarters (231 Elm Street) included a report room, chief’s office, squad room, and jail cells. The department remains in these quarters today.

In 1969, Officer Robert Highhouse succeeded Bud Keeney as chief of the department. Highhouse served the city faithfully for the next twenty years. He officially retired on September 30, 1989. At that time, Ludlow native Tom Collins was named chief.

In 2001, Tom Collins retired. Charlie Donaldson filled the position of Interim Chief until January 2002, when the current Chief, Ray Murphy was installed.

Ludlow Reporter, September 19, 1874, p. 2; News Enterprise, March 5, 1964, p. 1; November 2, 1967, p. 1, February 29, 1968, p. 1 and July 12, 1989, p. 1; Ludlow Celebrates, 1864-1989, pp. 19-20; Kentucky Post, January 20, 1928, p. 1.

Back to Top