The City of Fayetteville was formed in 1783 when the two settlements of Cross Creek and Campbellton merged. The City was named after Marquis de Lafayette, a Revolutionary War hero. It grew as an area of government and commerce because of its location as an inland port and the hub of the early “Plank Roads” system. The City of Fayetteville is now the sixth largest municipality in North Carolina and has a population of approximately 174,000 people.
In 1805, the General Assembly of North Carolina authorized the appointment of citizen patrols. The head of this group was known as the Magistrate of Police and was an elected position. He was given the authority to sentence individuals for violating the law. In 1816, the jailer of Cumberland County was authorized to receive people taken in by the Town Watch until the magistrate could see them the next morning. The records regarding the Police Department between 1880 and 1909 were lost in a fire. (Development of the Fayetteville Police Dept., 1-3).
In the early 1960’s the Fayetteville Observer interviewed three police officers that began working with the Police Department in the 1940’s. They spoke about their first years on the force when rookies were trained by “giving them a gun and showing them their beat,”. Officers working downtown knew to go back to the department when someone the turned outside light on. At that time all the lights downtown were turned off at midnight.
Today, the Fayetteville NC Police Department is divided into two districts, Cross Creek and Campbellton, named after the original two settlements that formed Fayetteville.