After Regina was settled in 1882, the town “floundered without a police presence. Though by no means a crime capital, Regina had its share of problems with drunkenness, rowdiness, broken windows, small robberies and issues with roaming livestock and poor sanitation, contrary to bylaws.
There was local disagreement in whether a constable needed to be hired, however eventually on July 23, 1892, James Williams became the first and only officer of the newly formed police service.
Corporal Williams was born on a ship at sea between England and Ireland and claimed his nationality as Irish. James or “Jim” as he liked to me known, was a member of the Royal Irish Rifles before he set sail for Canada in 1874. Jim joined the Halifax Secret Service upon his arrival and remained there for eight years before he decided to go west. In 1884 he joined the Northwest Mounted Police and headed west serving in several Saskatchewan communities including Regina. He remained with NWMP until he resigned and was sworn in as Regina’s first police officer.
Being this was the first police service in Regina, Corporal Williams worked out of the little Town Hall located on the corner of Scarth Street and 11th Avenue. There was no training, education or associations back then and Corporal Williams got straight to work policing the town’s laws and doing a “little practical social work”. His salary was $50.00 per month and he was provided with one free uniform, which he told town council was “a trifle uncomfortable when my one suit gets wet”. Corporal Williams provided his own weapon.
As the town’s police force of one, Corporal Williams enforced the towns’ sanitation bylaws, issues licenses, controlled the town “toughs”, was dog catcher and rang the town’s bell three times a day. Corporal Williams retired after two and a half years and passed on the baton to Tom Hitchcock.
James Williams is recognized as the first town constable in Regina’s street naming. Williams Street and Williams Crescent in Rosemont are named in his honour.
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