The Dayton Police Department traces its origin to the first constable, Cyrus Osborn, appointed after the settlement of Dayton in 1797. The Charter of 1805, which created the town of Dayton, made provision for a marshal, who was required to maintain the peace within this new town. Until 1833, the marshal served as the town's only law enforcement officer. As demands for increased law protection grew, marshals were added until 1867 when the state legislature granted Dayton the privilege of organizing its own police department. This decree was repealed 11 months later, and Dayton returned to law governed by a marshal.
In 1873, Dayton again was able to organize another police department with a chief, two lieutenants, a staff of patrolmen, and several officials responsible for operation of the municipal jail. The department was originally governed by a Board of Police Commissioners, however the board was later disbanded. The department was then governed by a safety director appointed by the mayor. After 1914, the Dayton Police Department became a division of the Department of Public Safety, as it is today.
From the guide to the Dayton Police Department Historical Records, 1876-2010, 1910-1970, (Wright State University, Special Collections and Archives)