On July 28, 1853 the City of Waterbury established it’s own official police force consisting of twenty-five men serving under the command of Waterbury’s first Chief of Police Samuel Warren. Having the official title “Constable”, these first police officers were paid between fifteen and twenty-five cents per hour. Two weeks after the Police Department was created, the Police Department moved into its new Headquarters on August 11, 1853. Headquarters consisted of a wooden structure building located on Brook Street. A need to publicly identify these new officers prompted the Police Department to adopt its first badge on September 18, 1854 for use by the officers while on-duty. A further need for an organizational structure and discipline led to the Police Department publishing its first Rules & Regulation Manual on December 17, 1855.
Due to the City’s population growth, the Police Department quickly expanded and as it did so did the need for a new police facility. On December 3, 1860 the Police Department moved into a new $1,100 Headquarters building and lock-up located on Phoenix Avenue. Very little time had passed until the Police Department quickly outgrew this Phoenix Avenue facility and began the planning of a new Headquarters facility. On June 1, 1862 the Police Department took possession of its third Headquarters; this new facility being located at the corners of West Main and Bank Streets.
On September 6, 1869 the Police Department adopted a new badge for all sworn members of the force. This newly designed badge is the same badge that is proudly worn today by all Waterbury police officers. Once again it wasn’t long before the Police Department outgrew its station house. On January 1, 1870 the Police Department moved into the new Waterbury City Hall located on West Main Street while maintaining a lock-up on Phoenix Avenue.
The need for civilian oversight of police operations prompted a change in the City’s Charter in 1872 the City Charter to create a Board of Police Commissioners.
By the late 1800’s Waterbury was a major city in the United States and like all major cities experienced a rise in population and crime. Increasing crime rates were accompanied by the increased sophistication in crime. The need for an investigator was recognized and on April 3, 1883 Patrolman Duncan was assigned to perform detective duties. Along with a growing police department came the need for communications. On October 30, 1883 the newly invented signal box communication system was purchased by the Police Department and installed throughout the City. The then cutting edge technology failed miserably and the signal boxes were removed.
Once again population and crime growth in Waterbury resulted in the Police Department’s expansion. With the Chief’s span of control increasing past his ability to effectively manage, a need for additional supervision was recognized. On March 10, 1885 the Police Department added its first two supervisory positions, Lieutenant and Sergeant. George Root was promoted to become the first Waterbury Police Lieutenant and Charles Bannon was promoted to become the first Waterbury Police Sergeant.
In an attempt to maintain discipline amongst the members of the Police Department, the Board of Police Commissioners begin fining officers for violations of the Department’s Rules and Regulations. However on July 3, 1888 the City Attorney advised the Police Board that they had no authority to fine the men for violating the rules and regulations. All fines paid previously by the officers were refunded to them.
With the Police Department’s continuing expansion, another new police facility was needed. On January 1, 1889 Architect Robert W. Hill was hired to design a new headquarters facility. Two months later on March 2, 1889 a contract was awarded to begin construction of a new Waterbury Police Department Headquarters building. On February 1, 1890 the Police Department moved into its new Headquarters contained within new City Hall located on West Main Street at the corner of Leavenworth Street. The Police Department itself was located in the rear of City Hall and had it’s own entrance was located on Harrison Alley.
In February 1891 the Board of Police Commissioners ordered that the Chief of Police was to be dressed in full uniform whenever making public appearances.
On January 31, 1893 the Waterbury Police Mutual Aid Association was formed as an independent beneficiary organization. Since the City provided no fringe benefits to police officers, the organization existed to create a financial safety net for its members. The Aid, as it was commonly referred to, arranged for healthy police officers to work the shifts of sick or injured police officers, thus allowing the sick or injured officers to continue receiving a salary. Funeral expenses and monetary donations to officers and their families were made by the Aid when members were deemed to be in need. Dues to the Mutual Aid were payable in one of two ways: either an officer could in cash two day’s salary or 2) an officer could work two days and donate the time worked into a bank for use by sick or injured officers. Only regular members of the Waterbury Police Department were eligible for membership. In the event a member became ill, other officers would work the sick member’s shifts for a period of up to twenty-five days. In the event the member did not return to work after twenty-five days, a group of Mutual Aid members known as the Sick Committee would visit the officer to see if he was really sick. In additional to providing a financial safety net, the Mutual Aid Association also held various social events such as a biennial Policemen’s Ball. Profits realized by such events funded the Association’s activities.
Due to the ever-increasing number of females being arrested by Waterbury Police, Mrs. William Clarke was appointed as the first Police Matron on April 30, 1895 at an annual salary of $200.00. Also in 1895, the Board of Police Commissioners was merged with the Board of Fire Commissioners to form the Board of Public Safety. Four years later on October 17, 1899 the Board of Public Safety authorized a pension fund for police officers. The retirement age for police officers was set at forty years old.
By the turn of the century the concentration of Waterbury’s population began to expand outward from the center of the city to outlying areas. Police officers expected to patrol these vast areas needed the ability to communicate with Headquarters and other officers. On December 1, 1900 five thousand dollars was appropriated by the City to purchase a signal system for the Police Department. On August 17, 1901 the Police Department installed twenty-two Gamewell call boxes throughout the City. A cost overrun resulted and the system had a final cost of $6,500.00.
At the turn of the century crime was also becoming more complex and many crimes could not be solved by the mere presence of a police officer. Having just one police officer acting as a detective was insufficient to deal with Waterbury’s crime problems. Long-term investigations, the need for seasoned investigators, and a recognition of the advantages to having some officers wearing plainclothes so that they could mingle freely with the public led to the creation of the Detective Bureau. On April 22, 1902 Lt. Thomas Dodds along with Patrolmen Kennaugh and O’Gorman became the Police Department’s first full-time Detectives.
The national pastime of baseball was no stranger to the men of the Police Department and in 1902 an official Waterbury Police Department baseball team was formed to compete against other police departments throughout the State.
Recognizing the need for professional financial management of the Police Department’s pension fund, an independent Board of Trustees of the Reserve Fund of the Police Department of Waterbury was created on August 5, 1902. Income to fund came from found property not claimed and later sold as well as from a five percent fee charged to all liquor licenses.
In 1903 Patrolman Paul Mendelssohn became the first Waterbury Police Officer to be killed in the line of duty. Patrolman Mendelssohn was born on September 10, 1876 in Neunbar, Germany. After emigrating to the United States, Mendelssohn joined the Police Department in 1900. On Sunday morning January 11, 1903 workers of the Connecticut Railway & Lighting Company began to strike by refusing to work. On Sunday March 8 during the fifty-sixth day of the strike Patrolman Mendelssohn was assigned to protect Car #66, the North Main Street trolley. As the trolley reached the area of Lakewood Park, known then as Forrest Park, four masked men boarded the trolley and simultaneously began firing shots. With Patrolman Mendelssohn being struck by the gunfire in the head, chest, and arm, the trolley conductor exited the trolley and fled the scene on foot leaving Officer Mendelssohn lying alone on a passenger seat dying.
A massive manhunt and investigation was launched to identify and apprehend the assassins. Unfortunately for the Police Department, at the same time Patrolman Mendelssohn was killed, an argument over a card game at a Jackson Street rooming house resulted in a murder there as well. With Waterbury Police taxed to their limits that night, the Sheriff of New Haven County dispatched seventy deputy sheriffs into Waterbury to aid in the manhunt for Patrolman Mendelssohn’s killers. The Pinkerton Detective Agency also sent private investigators to aid police in the investigation. An autopsy revealed Patrolman Mendelssohn had died as a result of wounds inflicted by bullets fired from .22, .32, and .38 caliber handguns.
Local businessmen, trade unions, and Connecticut Governor Chamberlain raised $18,850 and posted the money as a reward for information leading to the Patrolman Mendelssohn’s killers. The State’s Attorney vowed anyone convicted in the murder of Patrolman Mendelssohn would be hanged. The news of Mendelssohn’s death was printed in newspapers around the country, which described Waterbury as a lawless city. Although eighteen men were eventually arrested on March 31 for being involved in strikebreaking and union activities related to the railway strike, no one was ever charged with Patrolman Mendelssohn’s death and the crime remains unsolved. The strike eventually ended on April 28, 1903.
Patrolman Paul Mendelssohn, badge #45, was just twenty-six years when he was killed, leaving behind a wife and two children. Later that same year the widow of Patrolman Paul Mendelssohn was awarded the first police pension by the City of Waterbury, it was $25.00 a month for ten years.
By 1904 the Police Department realized the advantages of properly identifying and documenting persons they had placed under arrest. The Bertillion system, as the science of fingerprints was commonly referred to during that time period, began to be installed at the Police Department.
Increasing number of arrests coupled with arrests occurring far away from Headquarters prompted the Police Department on March 1, 1905 to acquire a horse drawn wagon for use as the Police Department’s first patrol wagon. For reasons unknown today, the Board of Public Safety on May 8, 1905 changed the title of Chief of Police to Superintendent. However Chief Egan was allowed to keep the title of Chief until his retirement. Six months later on October 28, 1905 Chief George Egan retired after serving twenty-one years as head of the Police Department, the longest continual serving department head in Waterbury Police Department history. Chief Egan was awarded a pension of half his salary for life. Egan was born in Ireland on October 28, 1842. He emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1853 and settled in Branford, Connecticut. Egan served in the Union Army for four years during the Civil War as a member of the Third Connecticut and was at the first Battle of Bull Run. He joined the Police Department on
April 8, 1876 and eight years later became Chief on February 19, 1884. He was married and had four children.
With the new Bertillon fingerprint system installed, the Police Department began to fingerprint all arrested persons and maintain fingerprint cards commencing on January 1, 1906.
In January 1, 1910, the Police Department took advantage of new technology, retired their horses, and purchased its first motorized patrol wagon; a Pope-Hartford motorcar.
By 1911 the increased popularity of the motorcar, coupled with horse drawn buggies, created traffic jams and accidents on Waterbury’s crowded downtown streets. To address these new problem police officers were assigned to traffic duty for the first time. And with the traffic problem came the inevitable parking problem. Due to traffic and parking congestion in downtown Waterbury, parking was allowed for only fifteen minutes.
On April 22, 1912 a fire erupted in the cellar of City Hall destroying most of the building and damaging Police Headquarters. A subsequent investigation ruled the fire arson and an investigation ensured. Bernard C. Murray of Hartford was later arrested in Berkshire County, Massachusetts for lighting several Massachusetts buildings on fire. Murray was interviewed by Waterbury Police and after having been positively identified by an eyewitness who saw him near City Hall on the night of the fire, Murray confessed to starting the fire. Murray was later committed to a Massachusetts mental asylum. The fire had a devastating effect on the Police Department, as the heat and flames of the intense fire destroyed many records. On May 25 the Police Department moved back into Headquarters, but the search for a new police station began once again.
On April 4, 1913 the Police Department purchased its first passenger motorcar for use as a regular patrol vehicle.
After having acquired its first patrol car on April 4, 1913 the Police Department boasted two vehicles in its fleet, the patrol wagon and a convertible passenger car. The wagon was known as Police Auto A and the car was known as Police Auto B. On Saturday evening August 2, 1913 at 7:17pm off-duty Patrolman Robert P. Kiersted, a twelve year veteran of the force and one of the few officers who knew how to drive a car, signed out Police Auto B by telling Desk Lieutenant Bernard Cahey that he had received a request from Police Commissioner William Johnson and Registrar of Voters Henry O’Connor to use the car. Kiersted drove the trio to Savin Rock in West Haven for an evening of socializing. On the return trip to Waterbury during the early morning hours of Sunday August 3 the vehicle crashed into a bridge abutment and rolled over on New Haven Road in Seymour killing Kiersted instantly and injuring the other passengers. The vehicle, which was only four months old, was a total wreck. A subsequent investigation ensued and on August 5 the New Haven County Coroner cleared Kiersted of any wrongdoing in the accident itself, however Superintendent Beach stated that Patrolman Kiersted violated the Rules and Regulations because 1) he was off duty at the time he signed out the vehicle and at the time of the accident, and 2) did not receive authorization to drive the car outside of the City Limits by either the Superintendent of Police or the Mayor. The forty-three year old Kiersted left a wife and an eight-year-old son Robert Jr. He was laid to rest in Waterbury’s Riverside Cemetery.
As federal labor laws changed, so did the Police Department’s staffing system. On May 5, 1913 the Patrol Division implemented the three-platoon system. Instead of two platoons each working a twelve-hour shift, officers would now be assigned to one of three platoons and work an eight-hour shift.
On August 7, 1913 at 8:00pm Patrolman Daniel J. Lane, a three year veteran who had joined the Police Department in 1910, was walking his beat when he observed that a street lamp at the corner of Cooke and Grove Streets was not functioning properly. Patrolman Lane walked to a call box at the corner of Prospect and Grove Streets and notified the Desk Sergeant of the broken lamp. By 10:33pm a crew from the Connecticut Light and Power Company had yet to respond and repair the streetlight. Patrolman Lane climbed the lamppost and attempted to repair the light himself. The lamppost collapsed, causing Patrolman Lane to fall to the ground. The lamppost landed on top of Lane and an exposed 2200-volt wire running inside the lamppost electrocuted Lane. Patrolman Lane was declared dead at the scene.
Patrolman Lane, Badge #81 was 34 years old and was survived by his parents, four brothers, two sisters, and a niece. He was laid to rest in the New St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Waterbury.
On August 20, 1913 the Police Department obtained, for the exclusive use of Superintendent Beach, a Ford “touring car”.
On June 1, 1914 The Waterbury Automobile Club presented the Police Department with its first motorcycle. Patrolman John Mates became the Police Department’s first motorcycle officer. With Waterbury gearing up for war production to supply the Allies during World War I, the City experienced massive expansion. No longer could the Police Department function properly from its Harrison Alley facility. Plans were made to move into a new facility being designed by famed architect Cass Gilbert. On July 8, 1914 ground was broken on a new City Hall to be located at 235 Grand Street within which would be located a new state of the art Waterbury Police Headquarters.
The need for private security prompted the brass manufacturers of Waterbury to hire their own armed security guards. However as these private forces grew, so did their interaction with Waterbury Police Officer. On May 21,1915 Superintendent Beach began to supervise the ten special constables employed by the Scovill Manufacturing Company, the ten special constables of the Chase Brass and Copper Company, and the sixteen special constables of the American Brass Works. With Superintendent Beach’s supervision came many changes. These private security guards came to wear the same uniforms and carried the same equipment as regular Waterbury Police Officers. These special constables were responsible for patrolling the factory grounds and adjacent areas. They were also responsible for answering police call boxes located within the factory grounds and were hired from hiring lists of the Police Department. Eventually the special constables were absorbed by the Police Department and became regular Waterbury Police officers.
Through his progressive and reformist programs, Superintendent Beach became known and respected law enforcement executive and gained somewhat of a national notoriety, serving on the Executive Committee of the International Association of Chief of Police (IACP).
On December 8, 1915 the Police Department obtained new Stewart motorcar for use as a patrol car. The Police Department now had a fleet of three vehicles.
On January 19, 1916 the new Waterbury City Hall at 235 Grand Street opened for business. The building had cost $915,485.00 to construct and was considered both state of the art and opulent for its time. The entire west wing of the building was devoted to the Police Department. The basement provided a training room, lockers, showers, bathroom facilities, storage, and a smoking room. The first floor contained the front desk, offices, a men’s cellblock, and a garage. The second floor housed the Detective Bureau, a Bertillon room (commonly called the fingerprint room), a photographic processing dark room, and additional detention facilities for females and juveniles. Also contained on City Hall’s second floor were the City Court, Judge’s chamber, prosecutor’s office, and juvenile court. A probation office was located on the third floor.
By 1917 the Police Department expanded its communication system to include forty call boxes, which were located throughout the City.
Seeking to professionalism the Police Department, Superintendent Beach hired a physical fitness instructor to train the men and increase the overall level of physical fitness amongst the member of the Police Department. Sergeants received instruction in how to lead physical fitness classes for the officers.
Also in 1917, Superintendent Beach conducted a survey of his officers. He found that the officers were carrying fifty-seven different makes, models, and calibers of side arms. Beach proposed that the City spend $1,200.00 to purchase a cache of new revolvers and ammunition, along with training, so that all the officers would be armed wit the same weapon.
The growth of the Detective Bureau, Bureau of Identification, and photography room prompted the need for increased supervision of plainclothes activities. On September 18, 1918 the rank of Chief Inspector was created with William Keegan being promoted to fill the new position, thus becoming the first Chief Inspector. As Chief Inspector, Keegan took control of these divisions.
Labor unrest was no stranger to Waterbury during the era of large brass mills. For instance on June 21, 1920 fifteen thousand factory workers at area brass mills went on strike. As a result two policemen were seriously hurt and police shot one rioter to death. Because of this strike, the Police Department incurred $44,000.00 in overtime, causing the Police Department to exceed its total budget by almost fifteen percent.
On Monday June 21, 1920 at 5:30am a man named Arthur Brouix of Biddeford, Maine entered Waterbury Police Headquarters stating he wanted to file a larceny complaint. Brouix told the desk officer that his twenty-three year old wife Georgiana Rheaume had stolen $650.00 from him and was planning to leave Waterbury with the money. Since no detectives were on duty, the desk officer told Brouix to come back at 7:30am when the Detective Bureau was scheduled to open and to speak with the detectives about his complaint.
Promptly at 7:30am Brouix returned to Police Headquarters and was interviewed by Inspector John F. Donahue, a seventeen-year veteran of the Police Department. (The title of Inspector was later changed to Detective). After taking Brouix’ complaint, Donahue and his fellow inspectors located Rheaume at the Waterbury train station on Meadow Street as she attempted to board a train with her new boyfriend. Donahue, Rheaume, and the other inspectors returned to the Detective Bureau to continue the investigation.
Once in the Detective Bureau Rheaume told Inspector Donahue that she was not married to Brouix. Donahue instructed Brouix to go home and return with a copy of the couple’s marriage certificate. A short time later, Brouix returned to Police Headquarters and was allowed by Desk personnel to go upstairs to the Detective Bureau on the second floor of City Hall. When Brouix entered the Detective Bureau, he found Inspector Donahue taking a statement from Rheaume. Upon seeing this, Brouix became enraged and produced a pistol he had secreted on his persons. Brouix pointed his pistol at Inspector Donahue, who attempted to calm Brouix and talk Brouix into surrendering the pistol. Instead of surrendering, Brouix shot Inspector Donahue in the chest. Brouix then ran out of the Detective Bureau and into Chief Inspector William Keegan’s office, which was located adjacent to the Detective Bureau. Once in Keegan’s office Brouix committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
Inspector Donahue was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital where doctors discovered a bullet lodged next to his spine. After six weeks in the hospital Inspector Donahue died of his wounds on August 2, 1920, one day before his fortieth birthday. He left a wife and four children – Ruth, John, William, and James.
On Saturday May 2, 1925 Patrolman Walter J. Stokes, an eleven year veteran of the Police Department, responded to a domestic disturbance at a third floor apartment of 827 Bank Street. Upon entering the apartment, Patrolman Stokes was attacked by Ernest J. Bercier, the husband involved in the domestic dispute. A struggle ensued between Patrolman Stokes with Bercier attempting to gain control of Stokes’ revolver. During the struggle Patrolman Stokes managed to shoot Bercier once in the hand, however Bercier eventually won control of the revolver, shooting and killing Patrolman Stokes.
Upon killing Patrolman Stokes, Bercier fled the apartment on foot but was apprehended by Patrolman Michael Carroll who had been sent as Stokes’ back up. Bercier was charged with the murder of Patrolman Stokes. Stokes was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Patrolman Stokes was 36 years old and left a wife named Mary. He was laid to rest in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Waterbury.
Shortly before midnight on November 19, 1930 Patrolmen Matthew McNally and Joseph Pettit were working a two-officer patrol car when they were dispatched to investigate a motor vehicle accident on East Main Street. As Patrolman McNally stood in the roadway taking measurements at the accident scene a car being driven by Adrial L. Wolff struck Patrolman McNally nearing severing McNally’s left leg at the knee. Patrolman McNally was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital where at 3:20am on November 20 he died of his injuries. Wolff was subsequently arrested for driving while intoxicated.
Patrolman McNally, a veteran of World War I and a member of the Police Department’s baseball team, was only forty-one years old. He left a wife and two children. He was laid to rest in New St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Waterbury.
In 1931 the thirty-six year experiment of having once civilian body oversee both the Police and Fire Department ended. The Board of Public Safety was divided into the Board of Police Commissioners and the Board of Fire Commissioners as it had been prior to 1895.
On March 13, 1940 the Waterbury Police Federal Credit Union received a federal charter and opened for business.
On Sunday July 20, 1941 the American Legion held their national convention in Waterbury, culminating in a fireworks display at held Municipal Stadium. Due to the increased traffic that night, off-duty officers were called in to perform traffic duty at various locations throughout the city. At 9:30pm Patrolman John Palmatier, age 60, was working extra directing traffic on West Main Street at Judd Street when he was struck by a passing car resulting in his body being thrown twenty feet. Patrolman Palmatier was transported to Waterbury Hospital where he died an hour later. The driver of the striking vehicle was identified as Wilby High School teacher Maurice Griffin, who ironically was one his way to Waterbury Hospital to give his sister a ride home. It was later determined that poor lighting conditions at the intersection contributed Patrolman Palmatier’s death. Patrolman Palmatier was the third person to be struck and killed at the intersection of West Main and Judd Street during 1941. Patrolman Palmatier was survived by his wife.
By World War II, the Police Department recognized a need for female members in the Police Department beyond that of matron. Since females could not become “Patrolmen”, the rank of Policewoman was created. On March 16, 1944 Ms. Mary E. (Norgren) Jones became the Police Department’s first Policewoman at a weekly salary of $35.00. There was however a caveat to becoming a Policewoman, a woman had to be either a registered nurse or certified schoolteacher.
On December 30, 1959, almost one year after the line of duty death of 27 year veteran Patrolman Frank D. Romano, on November 22, 1958, Superintendent Roach retired from the Police Department. He held the title of Superintendent longer than any other person in the history of the Police Department. However his absences from the Police Department between 1942 and 1945 to serve in the U.S. Army during the World War II as well as his absence in 1952 to serve with the U.S. State Department in Germany resulted in Chief Egan earning the title of longest continually serving department head.
Unfortunately, the shortest serving Superintendent followed the longest serving Superintendent. James Magner, was a second generation Waterbury Police Officer whose father had served from 1904 to1944. Magner was a graduate of the FBI National Academy, Northwestern University Traffic Institute, and had attended Northeastern University. During World War II Magner had been the Police Department’s liaison to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for local counter espionage activities. Magner, who had risen through the ranks, was promoted on December 31, 1959 to Superintendent, replacing Superintendent Roach. After four and a half months as Superintendent, Magner became ill and was hospitalized. During emergency surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital Superintendent Magner’s condition worsened. Waterbury Police officers lined up at the hospital to donate blood for their commander, however Superintendent Magner’s condition worsened and at 10:45 am on Tuesday May 17, 1960 Superintendent Magner died. Superintendent Magner received a funeral with full police honors that witnessed over one thousand people in attendance. He was laid to rest in the Old St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Waterbury. One month later on June 16, 1960 Joseph Guilfole was promoted to Superintendent replacing Magner.
On Saturday November 18, 1961 shortly after 5:00pm a fire erupted at the Dora Drazen Dress Shop located at 11 Leavenworth Street. Patrolman Leonard LaManna, an eleven-year veteran of the Police Department was dispatched to the scene along with four other officers to perform traffic duty. While directing traffic Patrolman LaManna suffered a heart attack and collapsed in the street.
Patrolman LaManna was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was 34 years old. Patrolman LaManna left a wife Anna and four sons – David, Mark, Gary, and Martin. He was laid to rest in Calvary Cemetery in Waterbury.
The end of the patronage system in hiring and promotions came on November 2, 1962 when the City created its own civil service system. Competitive hiring and promotional exams would become the norm.
Once again, changes in federal and state law allowed for public sector employees to bargain collectively. On April 13, 1964 the Waterbury Police Union Local 1237 was officially formed and received a charter from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. Officer Donald McKay was the Local’s first president.
By 1965 the children of the Baby-Boom generation were getting into trouble and traditional methods of policing couldn’t keep pace in addressing criminal activity committed by juveniles. The Youth Squad was created and staffed with detectives whose full-time job would be the investigation of juvenile matters.
Unfortunately, Waterbury was not immune to the racial riots that swept the nation’s cities during the late 1960’s. The summers of 1967 through 1969 witnessed routine mass violence in Waterbury, especially in Waterbury’s north end. During this time members of the Black Panther Party were often arrested in Waterbury among the rioters. It was not uncommon for police to be shot at or firebombed by rioters. It was also not uncommon to police to make forty or fifty arrests per night for rioting, all summer long. Initially, the Police Department was ill equipped to deal with rioting on a mass scale. The Police Department obtained it’s first set of helmets from the Connecticut Light & Power Company. The helmets were painted black and distributed as riot helmets. The Police Department also found its arsenal of weapons inadequate and for a period of time officers were allowed to use their personally owned rifles to fight against snipers. Eventually the Police Department added Winchester model 1897 12 gauge shotguns, Thompson .45 caliber sub machineguns, Reising .45 caliber sub machineguns, 37mm gas guns, and a gas pepper fogger to its arsenal during this period.
To enhance police-community relations, the Police Department on November 17, 1971 opened a Police-Community Relations office at 32 Harris Circle, Apartment 13. The office was staffed by a patrolman 1:00pm to 9:00pm Monday through Friday.
In May of 1972 the Board of Police Commissioners, in an attempt to reduce expenses and relieve beat officers of issuing parking tickets, agreed to create the position of Meter Aide at a rate of $2.35 per hour. Since police officers were earning $7.32 an hour, it was decided that three part-time Meter Aides would be hired to replace a full-time police officer who only job was to issue parking violation tickets.
Following an efficiency study of the Police Department conducted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), a new unit was created on Monday June 11, 1973 known as the Research and Development Division. Eventually this unit’s name would be changed to the Planning and Research Division. In addition, the IACP recommended changes to upper level management. In December 1973 it was decided that the positions of Deputy Superintendent and Deputy Chief Inspector were to be eliminated through attrition and a third Chief Inspector position was created. There was to be one Chief Inspector for each Bureau: Administrative, Investigative, and Patrol.
Due to the ever-increasing demand by corporations and the public to hire police officers for private jobs, the ability of the Super indent’s Office to effectively coordinate extra-duty jobs was no longer possible. On May 27, 1974 the Extra-Duty and Permits Office was established.
With the Police Department was once again outgrowing its Headquarters facility, ground was broken on April 29, 1977 on a new 34,200 square foot Headquarters building located at 255 East Main Street. The cost of the project, more than $4,000,000 was funded through a federal grant. The site of the new police station was the former home of Crosby High School, which had recently moved to new facility on Pierpont Road.
By January 1978 the Police Department found itself subject to changing federal and state laws and court decisions concerning equal rights for woman. It was decided that the rank of Policewoman would be eliminated through attrition and all future females hired by the Police Department would share, along with their male counterparts, the gender-neutral title of “Police Officer”.
On April 9, 1978 the use of identification numbers replaced the use of badge numbers on all police reports, summons, infractions, and parking tickets. Upon joining the Police Department, each individual would receive a unique identification number would remain the same throughout the officer’s career.
On December 7, 1979 the new Waterbury Police Station was dedicated. On Sunday December 2, 1979 Platoon “A” reported on duty at 235 Grand Street and reported off duty at the new East Main Street station. Only the Meter Division, Tag Division, and Paint & Sign Divisions remained behind at City Hall. From that day in 1979 to the present, the Waterbury Police Department remains headquartered at 255 East Main Street.
The decade of the 1970’s witnessed the creation and disbanding of many specialized unit such as the Highway Safety Patrol of 1973, the Street Crime Support Unit, also if 1973, the Municipal Security Unit of 1978, and the SWAT team of 1979.
On February 20, 1980 shotguns were deployed on a regular basis in the patrol division for the first time. A shotgun was issued to each sector sergeant. The ammunition was 00 buckshot. Two years later on February 1, 1982 shotguns were issued to all marked patrol vehicles. Winchester shotguns were replaced with Remington model 870 12-gauge shotguns.
On Friday November 19, 1982 Officer Bruce Hanley, 30, and Officer Gene Caron were working a two-officer patrol car in the north end of the city. Officer Hanley and Caron had been hired together exactly a year earlier and had been classmates at the Police Academy. They were dispatched to a Camp Terrace on a call of an unruly group in possession of a machete. Upon their arrival they observed four youths walking in the street. As Officers Hanley and Caron approached the group one of the youths fled on foot into a nearby wooded area. Officer Hanley gave chase on foot while Officer Caron detained the remaining three youths.
Repeated attempts to contact Officer Hanley via his police radio went unanswered. At about 10:50 p.m. with no response from Officer Hanley over the radio, a civilian telephoned Headquarters reporting that there was a police officer down at 95 Dikeman Street. Responding officers discovered Hanley lying unconscious. Rushed to St. Mary’s Hospital, Officer Hanley slipped into a coma, never again to regain consciousness. At the time of his injury Officer Hanley had a wife Susan and a two-year old daughter Kristen. Officer Hanley was eventually transferred to the Cedar Lane Nursing Home in Waterbury where he spent the remainder of his life in a coma. While in a coma, the Police Department continued to list Officer Hanley on the active duty roster, assigning Officer Hanley to the patrol division. On December 13, 1997 Officer Bruce Hanley died. He was laid to rest at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Watertown.
Nationwide expansion of employee rights, increased litigation against law enforcement organizations, and various court decision led to the December 24, 1984 creation of the Inspectional Services Unit, commonly referred to as Internal Affairs.
With the Naugatuck River flowing through the center of Waterbury, as well as numerous lakes, ponds, and streams, the need for a dive team was recognized and on June 25, 1986 a Scuba Diving Unit was formed.
With the Chief Inspectors included as members of the Police Union, the Superintendent became the only member of the Police Department representing management. A need was recognized for an additional management representative outside of the union. On December 17, 1986 the rank of Deputy Superintendent was resurrected and Captain Howard Dwyer was promoted to fill the position that had been eliminated in 1973. At the same time, one of the three Chief Inspector positions was eliminated. The administrative Chief Inspector was eliminated while the Uniformed and Detective Chief Inspector positions remained.
The late 1980s witnessed a change in the manner is which law enforcement organizations armed their officers in response to nationwide trends of drug dealers being better armed than the police and several unfortunate cases of police officers being killed while trying to reload their revolvers during shoot outs. The Waterbury Police Department followed this trend. In late 1987 the Police Department traded their revolvers for semiautomatic pistols. The Smith & Wesson Model 669 9mm was adopted as the standard issue sidearm. Unlike the past when patrol officers and detectives carried sidearms of different barrel lengths, all sworn members of the Police Department were issued the same weapon. Along with this new sidearm, the 9mm, 115-grain Winchester Silvertip became the official duty ammunition. Also in 1987 the use of “00” buckshot was discontinued in favor of #4 buckshot.
In June 1989 Hollywood filmmakers shot the movie Stanley & Iris in Waterbury. Due to the logistics involved in crowd control, a new unit was formed which became known as the Emergency Response Team. The movie studio funded initial purchases of equipment for the team. The team continued to evolve and expand, training with the FBI. The team currently boasts thirty-one members, a van, and an armored personnel carrier.
On September 29, 1989 the rank of Policewoman was eliminated through attrition with the retirement of the last Waterbury Policewoman.
In November 1989 the Police Department deployed its first narcotic canine. Named “Lenny”, this German Sheppard was put to use immediately, mainly at scenes of Vice Squad search and seizure warrant executions.
In December 1989 the Tactical Narcotics Team, known as TNT, was formed. The unit was comprised of uniformed officers based in the Vice Squad, whose primary duties were the suppression of street level narcotics dealers.
In 1990 the first desktop computer network was installed in the Police Department, allowing for local criminal history record checks, active arrest warrant checks, and the booking of prisoners. Prior to this time, police officers working the booking desk would have to record the name of each arrestee, go the Records Division, and manually check paper based files to determine if the arrestee had a prior criminal history. The police officer would have to travel to the second floor and manually check the files of the Detective Bureau to determine if the arrestee had any outstanding local warrants.
After a lengthy legal battle, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in February 1992 that the rank of Detective within the Waterbury Police Department was a promotion and not an assignment, thus requiring a competitive civil service examination. Since its creation in 1902, the position of Detective had been considered an assignment with individuals serving as Detectives at the pleasure of the Superintendent. In June 1986 the City’s Civil Service Commission voted to make the position of Detective a permanent promotion requiring the passing of a competitive examination. A dispute over the issue ensued between the Board of Police Commissioners and the Superintendent who wished to maintain the position as an assignment, and the Civil Service Commission and the Police Union who wished the position to become a permanent rank requiring competitive civil service examinations. Currently an officer must serve for a minimum of four years before being eligible to apply for the Detective examination.
On December 18, 1992 at 4:00am Officer Walter T. Williams III, an eight year veteran of the Police Department, was on patrol in the north end of Waterbury when he observed two men at the corner of Orange and Ward Streets conducting what appeared to be a hand-to-hand narcotics transaction. Officer Williams exited his police car and began to “pat-down” the two men. One of the men, later identified as Richard Reynolds, purposely bumped his body into Officer Williams to determine if Williams was wearing body armor or not. After feeling what he believed to be body armor under Officer Williams’ uniform, Reynolds drew a .380 caliber pistol and shot Officer Williams behind his right ear. Officer Williams collapsed to the ground as the two men fled on foot. A civilian passerby discovered Officer Williams lying in the roadway and used Williams’ police car radio to summon help.
A massive manhunt and investigation ensued. Within hours, detectives had two men in custody, Richard Reynolds and Anthony Crawford. The men were discovered hiding in a second floor apartment at 47 Wood Street. Also discovered in the apartment was the gun Reynolds used to shoot Officer Williams. During the investigation into the shooting of Officer Williams, Reynolds confessed to being a crack cocaine dealer who did not want to return to prison.
Later that same day at 7:30pm Officer Williams succumbed to his injuries at St. Mary’s Hospital. Officer Williams was 34 years old. He left a pregnant wife Jeannine and two sons – Walter and Zachary. Shortly after Officer Williams’ death, his wife Jeannine gave birth to a son, Matthew. Officer Williams was laid to rest in Edgewood Cemetery in Wolcott. His badge, #80, was retired from service.
Richard Reynolds was convicted of Capital Felony Murder in the killing of Officer Williams and currently awaits execution.
During early 1993, gang warfare erupted on the streets of Waterbury. Fueled mainly by a feud between two rival Hispanic gangs known as the Latin Kings and the Los Solidos, the rates of shootings and murders climbed steadily. In response to this problem a new unit was formed on May 26, 1993 known as the Gang Task Force. This unit continues to operate out of the Detective Bureau, investigating and suppressing gang activity.
Also in 1993 the new Smith and Wesson model 6906 9mm replaced the 669 as the Police Department’s standard issue sidearm.
In November 1993 the Police Pipes and Drums of Waterbury were formed. Although not an official organization within the Police Department, it was formed by numerous members of the Waterbury Police Department and currently consists of approximately twenty-five members. The ban performs at police funerals, memorial services for fallen officers, inaugurations, or wherever they are called to along with East coast.
On August 1, 1996 the Police Department formed its first bicycle unit. This new unit consisted of ten officers.
During the spring of 1997 the Police Department adopted the Sig Sauer Model P229 .40 caliber as the standard issue sidearm. Mossberg model 590 12-gauge shotguns were also adopted.
In 1997 the Police Department opened four “precincts” in the City. These one-room store front offices were staffed round the clock by one officer as part of a community outreach and crime prevention program. On April 5 the “First Precinct” opened at 172 Willow Street. The “Second Precinct” opened on July 9 at 890 Bank Street. The “Third Precinct” opened on September 3 at 803 North Main Street. The “Fourth Precinct” was a mobile office initially stationed on Oakville Avenue. Due to budgetary constraints all precincts were closed on December 1, 2000.
In the fall of 1999 the Police Department completely overhauled its communications system. First, the Communications Control Center, commonly referred to as the “Radio Room” was remolded to improve efficiency and to accommodate the new communications equipment. The Fire Department’s communications center was also integrated in the same room. Second, new radio repeaters, a computer aided dispatch system, and portable radios were purchased. The new system was based on the 800-megahertz frequency. As part of the new system, each officer was issued a radio of his or her own. The past practice of officer’s sharing portable radios ended.
In 2001 the Police Department’s one hundred and forty-eight year tradition of carrying wooden batons came to an end with the introduction of a collapsible metal baton. The new metal batons were issued to all police officers and were compact enough to allow an officer to easily carry it on their duty belt.
On June 12, 2002 Superintendent Flaherty became president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association.
In January 2003 the Police Department, again growing beyond the capacity of its Headquarters facility, obtained office and parking space at the City’s Buckingham ramp garage located at the corner of Bank and Grand Streets. The Community Relations, Training, and Meter & Tag Divisions moved into the newly renovated facility. The move to the Bank Street facility was especially welcome to the Police Department’s hosting of the Northwest Regional Police Training sessions which bring hundreds of area police officers to Waterbury throughout the year to complete their State mandated in-service retraining.
On July 1, 2003 the Police Department assumed full control of the enforcement operations of the Waterbury Parking Authority.
Following an efficiency study of the Police Department that was published in May 2003, the title of Superintendent reverted back to Chief as it once had been at the Police Department. Following the retirement of Superintendent Flaherty in June 2003, Captain Neil O'Leary was appointed as the Acting Police Chief. On November 4th, 2004 Captain O'Leary was promoted to Chief of Police, becoming the nineteenth individual to head the Waterbury Police Department.
In December 2004 a reorganization of the Police Department's executive management level created a second Deputy Chief position. On December 14th, 2004 Captain James Nardozzi (who had served as the Acting Deputy Chief since July 2003) and Captain Philip Rinaldi were each promoted to the position of Deputy Chief.
In January 2005 the Police Department opened its own training academy for new recruits at the Department's Bank Street facility. This initial class consisted of twenty-four recruits from the Waterbury Police Department and seven recruits from the Hartford Police Department.
In January 2005 the Police Department began to issue all patrol officers the Taser Model X-26 to assist in officer and citizen safety.
The past one hundred and fifty-one years have witnessed many changes within the Waterbury Police Department. Although the styles of the uniforms, size and shapes of the patrol vehicles, caliber of sidearm carried, and demographics of the Police Department have changed, one thing has not, the dedication and hard work of its members. For one hundred and fifty years Waterbury Police Officers have always answered the call for service and have always been ready to make the ultimate sacrifice as is evident throughout our history. The men and women of today’s Waterbury Police Department continue to serve with the same pride as those who came before us. It is our hope that future generations of Waterbury Police Officers will look back and share the same sense of pride in wearing the badge then as we do today.