Origin of the Sheriff’s Office
The Cowley County Sheriff was first elected to office in 1870. His name was Frank A. Hunt. He served just one year before another Sheriff was elected, John M. Pattison. Pattison himself only served one year before James Parker was elected Sheriff of Cowley County.
During Sheriff Parker’s term, a courthouse (including the first jail) was built in 1873 by the City of Winfield and donated to the county. Total cost of the building was $27,000. The courthouse worked well until expansion necessitated the creation of a new courthouse in 1909. It served as the County’s seat until 1963, at which point the current courthouse was built. Upon construction, it was built around the existing courthouse, and when it was completed the old courthouse was torn demolished.
Legacy of the Sheriff’s Office
There have been 33 different Sheriffs in Cowley County since the first one was elected in 1870.
As the County has grown, so has the Sheriff’s Office. In 1959 there were 4 officers including the Sheriff, Undersheriff, and 2 Deputies, the Ark City Deputy and the Winfield Deputy.
Today in 2010, there are 21 officers, including the Sheriff, Undersheriff, Detectives, Civil Process, and Patrol Officers. There are also 10 part-time officers. The 27 person jail staff includes a jail administrator, 20 correctional officers, 2 part-time correctional officers a full time jail nurse and 3 part-time jail nurses. The personnel at the sheriff’s office also includes two full time clerical staff and one part-time clerk.
Cooperation with other Agencies
Many changes have occurred over the decades. Communication and cooperation has always existed between all law enforcement agencies in Cowley County, and it has never been better. As of January 2004, the Arkansas City Dispatch Department, Winfield Police Department and Cowley County Sheriff’s Office share the same computer software and database for records management which allows all three agencies to coordinate and pool information in a single place.
Although procedures, laws, technology, and personnel continually change, the one constant throughout the 130-plus years that the Cowley County Sheriff’s Office has been in existence, is the dedication of service to and protection of the Citizens of Cowley County.