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The oldest police band in the country? Right here in Milwaukee!


You may know that the Milwaukee Police Department has a band. Maybe you've heard them play at memorial services or various community events. But did you know that the band started as a group of police officers coming together to practice whistling back in 1897?  Since then, the MPD Band has grown in size and reputation, with bragging rights of being the oldest police band in the country.


In 1922, the MPD Band caught the attention of one of the most famous composer/conductors in American history, John Philip Sousa. Souza, who wrote " The Stars and Stripes Forever" (the national march of the United States) and played several concerts in Milwaukee with the Souza band 1920's.


One of the most interesting things about the band is how it's structured. "The band consists of police officers, retired and presently on the job. But we have a contingent of citizens," says Lieutenant Karen Dubis, Director of the Milwaukee Police Band. "Some of our police officer sit next to very fine musicians and realize there is another level out there that can be obtained by playing and practicing." Lt. Dubis says she was hoping to become a musician, but found the best of both worlds when her mom encouraged her to try out for the force 37 years ago. She's retiring from the force after close to 4 decades of service, but will stay on as Director of the band.


Check out the Milwaukee Police Band this fall at their annual concert as they perform a free show for the public at the historic Pabst Theater

Director of Digital Content | Radio Milwaukee