Historical marker honors ISP Jasper postJuly 29, 2021
By CHRISTINE STEPHENSON
JASPER — When Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter arrived at the Jasper post Wednesday, he immediately felt at home.
Every ISP post throughout the state is designed to look the same — a square, brick building with nearly identical white lettering. Often, the familiarity runs even deeper, even down to the smell of the building, Carter joked. But the Jasper post is unlike any other.
“When I come to the Jasper post, I feel like I’m standing in the presence of the past,” he said.
Out of all eight Indiana State Police posts built when ISP was formed in the 1930s, the Jasper post is the only one still functioning as a district headquarters. On Wednesday, a historical marker honoring the post was unveiled in front of a crowd of current ISP personnel, about a dozen retirees, their friends and family, and some Jasper leaders.
The historical marker, which was made possible through community donations, was recently approved by the Indiana Historical Bureau. All over the state, more than 700 historical markers in nearly every county tell the stories of everything from art and sports to military and political history, said IHB Historian Jill Weiss.
“We like to think of markers as a sort of tangible connection between time and place,” Weiss said. “This Jasper post, the building and the people who have helped to preserve it and tell the stories … also serve as a tangible connection to the past. And really nowhere else in the state can someone stand immersed in the early history of the state police like they can here.”
The Jasper post was built in 1937 by the Works Progress Administration, a New Deal agency created to employ jobseekers to help with public works following the Great Depression.
During the Great Depression, crime bosses such as John Dillinger terrorized the state with dozens of bank robberies in a year. At the time, the local police couldn’t keep up, so ISP was established in an attempt to expand police presence and improve communication between counties.
When the Jasper post was created, it was one of five posts in the state with a radio tower. This made communication between officers in the 14-county district much quicker. By the end of the first year, the crime rate decreased by 40%, Weiss said, and there was only one bank robbery that year.
For those who don’t know the story of the post, it can be hard to recognize its important place in history. Some in the community wonder why the building hasn’t been torn down to make room for something else.
Ideally, the marker will act not only as a reminder of the post’s history but also as a way to educate the public about it.
“There’s been so much discussion about the consolidation of our districts over time, and over my lifeless body will this not remain a state police post,” Carter said. “Nothing is going to happen to this building, and I’m very, very, very proud of it. You all have something special.”
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