George Ellicott, the first mayor of Ellicott City, came into office in 1867.  One of his first actions was the creation of the Ellicott City Police.

James E. Vansant served as Ellicott City's Chief of Police from 1877 to 1904, bringing stability to the job.

Julius Wosch became an Ellicott City officer in 1905.  He was soon appointed chief.

In 1935, Officer E. Russell Moxley was hired to patrol Main Street for $1 per night. Moxley went on to become Chief of Police when Chief Wosch retired in 1939.

Charles Lotz served as Chief of Police from 1945 until 1946.

Raymond Wells (seated above) became Chief of the Second District Police in 1947.

© 2014 Howard County Police Foundation.

A Brief History of the Howard County Police Department: 1840–1950

by Pfc. Allen Hafner (Retired)

The Howard District of Anne Arundel County was created in 1840. This new district had its own court and sheriff, operating as a separate county but without direct representation in the General Assembly. When Maryland’s Constitution was revised in 1850, the Howard District became Howard County, effective July 4, 1851. For most of the county’s history, law enforcement was handled by the county sheriff, a couple of deputies and some constables who were appointed to work in each of the county’s election districts. These constables and deputies did not actively patrol their districts, but responded to calls for service when needed. They supplied their own transportation, worked on a part-time basis and were paid a set fee for each service they performed.

This 1860 Martinet map of Howard County shows the original five election districts. All government functions operated according to these district lines.

The town of Ellicott City had its own small police force (one officer, sometimes two) since incorporating in 1867. Many people were appointed as police officers in Ellicott City, but few stayed longer than a couple of months. James E. Vansant served a term as Mayor, then became Ellicott City's Chief of Police in 1877. This tough Civil War veteran brought stability to the job, serving until 1904. 


Starting in 1894, the County Commissioners were authorized to appoint full-time police officers for those election districts that could support the officer’s salary through a special tax, beginning with the First District, Elkridge. A police officer was appointed for the village of Savage the following year, his salary to be paid by the Savage Manufacturing Company. 


Ellicott City's original boundary extended into Baltimore County.  Officers on foot patrol were required to cover the entire distance at least once each shift.

In 1905, the year after Chief Vansant left office, the City Council created the Regulations for the Government of the Police Force of Ellicott City, Maryland." These 26 articles spelled out the responsibilities of the officers and specified the use of a uniform. Later that same year, Julius Wosch became an Ellicott City Officer and was soon appointed chief.


Chief Wosch established an office on the ground floor of his home on Main Street. Most of the early county officers held multiple titles, with each assignment providing some additional payment in the form of fees for service. At one time Chief Wosch was an Ellicott City officer, Second District Constable, Deputy Sheriff, and Dog Tax Collector.

1900 view of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad station in Ellicott City.  Chief Wosch, accompanied by his pet German Shepherd, Beauty, would often meet the late night train from Baltimore to see who was getting off.

Tragedy struck the Department on November 7, 1924, when Constable Charles Weber of the First District was performing a routine check of parked cars along River Road in Elkridge. As he stepped onto the running board of an occupied vehicle and displayed his badge the driver panicked and sped off, dragging Weber about 50 feet before he fell off the car and rolled down the river embankment.  


Suffering from a fractured skull and back, Constable Weber, age 48, was taken to St. Agnes Hospital, where he died from his injuries on November 10.


Constable Weber's name was added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2003.

The November 13, 1924 cover of The Ellicott City Times  displays the tragic headline: "Elkridge Constable's Injuries Prove Fatal."

In 1935, Chief Wosch hired Officer E. Russell Moxley to patrol Main Street for $1 per night. That same year, Ellicott City lost its charter of incorporation and the town's two officers became the Second District Police, paid by the county. Moxley became Chief of Police when Chief Wosch retired in 1939.


Soon after Wosch's retirement, the police office was moved to a former firehouse on Main Street east of Court Avenue. A small courtroom for the local magistrate was also in the building. Chief Moxley was required to live in the second floor apartment and pay the county $18 per month in rent. His wife, Bessie, answered the phones and cleaned the office. A light was installed over the door for use as a police signal.

Under Chief Moxley, the office of the Second District Police was moved to a former firehouse on Main Street.

Chief Moxley resigned in 1945 to become head of security for Calvert Distillery in Elkridge. Charles A. Lotz was appointed Chief for Second District, with Robert Cole named as the night shift officer. These two officers did not get along, and by December of 1946 the County Commissioners decided to replace both officers. They asked State Police to increase their patrols in the Ellicott City area until suitable replacements could be found.


On June 7, 1946, Deputy Sheriff Frank J. Miller, age 65, was struggling with a female juvenile prisoner in front of the courthouse, trying to get her into his car. After securing the prisoner with the help of the jailer, Miller got into the car and slumped over the steering wheel, dead of a heart attack. Miller had worked as a deputy sheriff for 29 years, often patrolling Ellicott City and Elkridge. This was Howard County's second line-of duty death.


Deputy Frank Miller's name was added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2002.

Deputy Sheriff Frank J. Miller died of a heart attack after struggling with a prisoner on June 7, 1946.

On February 1, 1947, Chief Raymond Wells and Officer Charles Linthicum became the Second District Police.

In February of 1947, Chief Raymond Wells and Officer Charles Linthicum were greeted on their first day of work by the state troopers who worked the area.

Throughout the 1940s there was an increasing demand for better police protection for the entire county. The system of scattered officers had worked when Howard County was mostly farms, but as the county's population grew, the old system of law enforcement could not keep pace. Officers in each election district continued to work independently, and there was little coordination of activities between them.



8267 Main Street
Ellicott City, MD 21043



(410) 313-1447


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Sunday 11 AM - 4 PM


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*Group tours and special visits can be arranged upon request.


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