City of Woodson Terrace Missouri

City of Woodson Terrace Police Department History


In August of 1946 Woodson Terrace incorporated and became the Village of Woodson Terrace.  An election was held wherein a Village Council was elected along with the First Marshal whose job it was to provide law enforcement to the Village.  John A. McKinney was elected to this Office.  Over the next decade both McKinney and George Downing served terms in office as the Marshal.

In 1954 the Village of Woodson Terrace became the City of Woodson Terrace, and the elected Marshal also held the title of Chief of Police.  Through the 1950’s and 1960’s, three different men; John Stuller, Jim Grissom, and Jim Kolschreiber held the office of Marshal / Chief of Police at one time or another. Of these three men, John Stuller held the Office longer than any of the three, and was more widely remembered as the Chief of Police during this time period.

During the latter part of the 1960’s Woodson Terrace experienced a growth in both population and economic development.  Several businesses were developed along the Woodson Rd. and Natural Bridge corridors.  These businesses included hotels, motels, strip malls, and both fast food and dine – in restaurants.

With such an increase it became evident that the Police Force should become more of a full-time department.  During this timeframe the department went to full-time Police Officers as opposed to the both full-time and part-time officers that they had been operating with.  During the early 1970’s, with the department evolving into full-time status, it was determined that the Chief of Police should also be a full-time position.  John Stuller, who had been the part-time Chief, declined to become the full-time Chief, as he was employed full-time at McDonnell Douglas Aircraft.

A meeting was held with the Mayor, Board of Aldermen, and all of the police officers, to decide who of them should become the first full-time Chief of Police.  It was determined that Tom McKay, a Patrolman with the Department, would fill that role.  In April of 1972 until his retirement in June of 2001, Tom McKay led the department.  Tom is credited with developing the department into one of the finest in St. Louis County.  In January of 1980 Tom’s hard work and guidance of the department paid off.  St. Louis Magazine had done a survey and rating of all of the police departments in St. Louis County giving ratings ranging from 1 to 4 stars, with 4 being the highest rating.  Woodson Terrace’s Police Department was the ONLY department to receive a 4-star rating.  In the year 2000, when the Police Department moved into its new facility, the building was fittingly named The Thomas A. McKay Law Enforcement Facility.  In June of 2001 Tom McKay retired and Bob Dowling, a 21 year veteran of the department, was appointed as Chief of Police.  Chief Dowling was elected as Marshal / Chief of Police for the first time in April of 2002, and then re-elected in April of 2006. Chief Dowling is determined to keep the good reputation and professionalism of the Department that our residents are accustomed to.