Police and Law Enforcement

The original charter of the village did not make any provision for police officers and the town constables were the law enforcement officers.  The revised charter in 1860 created the office of the police constable.

The first night watch was Michael Harty whose appointment was made in 1879 but whom merchants or other persons paid.  Four years later the village assumed his salary and added it to the job of lamp lighter.

Up until 1915 the only full-time policeman had been employed at night.  During that year,  the first full time day policeman was hired, the first traffic ordinance was passed, the lockup was established and the office of police justice constituted.  The lockup was in the basement of the Farman Theatre where tramps as well as persons arrested could be kept.  With wooden benches provided instead of beds and with blankets, heat and sanitary facilities the men were housed with some degree of comfort.  The state prison inspector soon objected to prisoners being kept in a basement.  So after 1927 the lockup was used by transients only.

During the depression large numbers of men were out of work wandering about the country and realizing many of the men asking for lodging over night were not really tramps, the village provided a light breakfast of day old bread or rolls, fried cakes or doughnuts, coffee with sugar and condensed milk, at a cost of about seven cents a meal.  The policemen on duty prepared the breakfast.  One year nearly 1500 men were kept over night and once 18 spent the night there.

With  the increase in the number of cars, a motor cycle was purchased in 1922 but was replaced in 1931 with a car.  To control the traffic at Main and Buffalo Streets, a stop and go light was erected.  Twelve years later the state replaced it with an overhead signal.  Warning signals were put up near the school to safeguard the children crossing the street in 1939.

In the year 1929, three full time men were employed on the police force for the first time but during the depression were cut to two with a relief man working two days.  The full three man force was restored in 1946.  There are also three part time men available.

The village bought a two-way radio for the police car in 1944 using the sheriff's broadcasting station as the central office and working with the sheriff's patrol cars.  Some years ago a horn to summon a police officer when needed was placed on a building at the corner of Main and Buffalo STreets.  During the office hours, they can be contacted by calling the village office and at other times through the sheriff's office.

Excerpted from Quasquicentennial, 1968.