With the honour of being the first police band formed in Australia, the South Australia Police Band was established in 1884 when Police Commissioner William Peterswald, encouraged the formation of a volunteer brass band from the ranks of the Metropolitan Foot Police.
It was soon formed and initially comprised of fourteen volunteer police musicians, all playing with their own instruments, under the leadership of Foot Constable Robert Howlett. With a bonus of sixpence per day and four hours each week to practice, they quickly became popular within the community, playing in parks and gardens, providing benefit concerts, and performing at Vice Regal functions.
Although the band function was suspended for a short time in the 1920’s and during the Second World War, it was restored in 1945 under the direction of Band Master Alex Radcliffe and again became very popular across the State. In 1957, Police Commissioner John McKinna, approved that it become a full-time unit, following which a distinctive police band ceremonial uniform was adopted along with the now well recognised white police helmet.
In 1974 the instrument configuration was changed from brass to military and the band soon established a reputation as one of the leading police bands within Australia and in fact the world. In 1987 the first female musician was recruited and in 1989 the Police Band was selected to perform in the following year at the world renown Scottish Edinburgh Military Tattoo. There the band was heralded by the Tattoo directors as one of the best bands to have ever performed at the Tattoo. In the years that followed the Band continued to perform not only across the state and within Australia but also at a number of world renown international tattoos. In 2019 the Police Band continues its important role in promoting SAPOL, crime prevention and reduction as well as providing musical entertainment to the whole of the South Australian community.