The County

Kenosha County Wisconsin, with a population of approximately 150,000, is tucked into the extreme southeast corner of the state. Kenosha County is bordered on the east by Lake Michigan and runs approximately 30 miles to the west to the Walworth County line. It is 12 miles wide running north and south and is boarded on the north by Racine County and on the south by Lake and McHenry Counties in Illinois. It is basically divided east and west by Interstate 94, but prior to the late 1950s by a four-lane highway known as Highway 41. It became a common reference when dealing with calls for service that the two primary patrol area’s were called "the east end", everything east of Interstate 94 and the most populated, and the "the west end", everything west of Interstate 94 and the least populated.

Beginnings - 1836 to 1920

The first sheriff of Kenosha County, which was then called Southport, was E.G.Hugunin. The Sheriff’s Office remained relatively small for about 100 years with sheriff’s usually working by themselves or in special circumstances they would employ reserve or "special deputy sheriff’s" appointed by the standing sheriff to assist in law enforcement instead of using full time employees.

By the late 1920s, Kenosha County had approximately 400 reserve deputies, but only about 15 full-time deputy sheriffs. Reserve deputies were allowed to carry a badge of their own design and a gun. At other times the sheriff would design the badge his deputies would carry. As a result there were a great deal of different badge designs out in the community that we are still discovering today.

Control of what the deputies were doing was pretty loose, but the advent of liability issues had not yet surfaced. The jail was not much more than a large house where the sheriff lived with only a few cells. Beginning in the early 1900s until the late 1930s, having a motorcycle greatly enhanced your chances of getting a position with the department as motorcycle patrol were popular, versatile, cheap to operate and the county did not have to buy one.

Additional Information