The early days of Mills saw only a few automobiles but with time they became more common and with the coming of the automobile came traffic accidents and problems, which kept the marshals busy.
After the twenties, things quieted down in Mills and the stories of police activity are more routine. The Town could not afford a large police department and the marshal was most often a one man force. The town owned and maintained a police car for the marshal, but that and one sidearm was about the total of police department equipment. Sometimes the marshal used his own car for police work. The marshal operated the entire department out of his car, and operated alone for the most part. In addition, this was a twenty four hour a day, seven day a week job. Everything that came up, no matter what the size or the nature, it was handled by the marshal.
Fred Vanhorn lived in Mills prior to World War II, came back to Mills after serving in the Navy and hired on as a deputy marshal to Everett Clark, the current marhsal in 1950. Town minutes reflect that then Mayor Bill Clapp appointed Vanhorn town marshal in 1955 when Clark retired from the position. Vanhorn accepted the position on a temporary basis at that time, “until somebody else could be found to be marshal”. That temporary position lasted until 1983.
The police department functioned through the years out of their patrol car. All records were kept in the car or at the one file cabinet in the council chambers at the Fire Hall, which was used for the courtroom for many years. Eventually the department expanded to a half dozen men who worked separate shifts, and in 1978 the new Town Hall was completed, providing the department with its first office space, including an office for the Chief and dispatch room.
In 1983, upon Alan Sword’s election as Mayor, Fred Vanhorn resigned as Chief after thirty three years of service. After Vanhorn retired, Art Terry was appointed Chief, until 1990 when Jerry Endresen was appointed. In 2006 two long time employees, Lieutenant Dan Schirlinger and Secretary Barb Thode retired. This year was marked with the completion of the new Police Department at its present location on West Yellowstone. This included a garage with 7 bays, a large court room, 10 offices, armory, evidence room, front office, and lobby. In 2013 Lieutenant Phil Crouch and Chief Endresen retired. Chief Bryon Preciado was appointed temporarily, and then permanently soon after.
The Mills Police Department now operates with 14 sworn Officers, including 2 detectives and 3 full-time office staff. The department always has one officer assigned to the Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigations as a Task Force Officer. The Department celebrated it’s 94th anniversary in 2015.