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THE HISTORY OF THE GREENBURGH POLICE DEPARTMENT

Early law enforcement in the Town of Greenburgh was provided by the County Sheriff and part-time Town Constables. The New York Aqueduct Police also maintained law and order in the rowdy construction camps that grew up around the area during the period when the new Croton Aqueduct was being built in the late 1800s. Town of Greenburgh records show that Town Constables were often appointed when a problem arose at a specific location but their services were quickly terminated when the situation was eliminated. The Sheriff investigated most of the serious crimes and provided deputies for major events. There were no routine patrols to discourage crime and matters usually had to become quite serious before action was taken.

In 1909, a group of residents from the unincorporated areas of the town petitioned the Town Board for police protection and on January 24th, 1910, under the guidance of Town Supervisor Charles D. Millard, the Greenburgh Police Department was officially established. During its first months of existence, the force was comprised of four regular police officers and three special officers. They had no headquarters and no automobiles. Each policeman received his assignments by telephoning Justice of the Peace Moorehouse at his residence. One horse and one bicycle were provided for use by the department and communications consisted of three telephone call boxes which were located at East Irvington, North Elmsford and the Fair Grounds (now called Fairview).

The first Police Headquarters was established in 1920 in a small clapboard building on the property of Justice of the Peace William H. Seely at 155 Old Army Road in Greenville. A chicken coop on the property was often used as a temporary "lock up" for drunks and minor offenders.

In 1917, the police force consisted of seven officers; one captain; one sergeant and five police officers. Prior to the 1920s, officers used the trolley line on Tarrytown Road to travel between Glenville and the Fair Grounds but during the 1920s; the department became motorized through the acquisition of an open Model T Ford and motorcycles with sidecars. In cold weather, motorcycle officers stuffed newspapers inside their uniforms to keep warm while those men assigned to drive the patrol car placed a kerosene lantern on the floorboards between their legs. In 1930, the department, which now had achieved a strength of twenty officers (one captain; one lieutenant; three sergeants; and fifteen police officers), moved its headquarters to a wood frame building at 388 Tarrytown Road. The building had originally been a gatehouse for the Fair Grounds and had served as a bar and cabaret prior to occupancy by the police. In 1936, two-way radio communications was established between headquarters and patrol cars and in 1939, the Detective Division was created. The first two detectives, however, met an unfortunate fate when during an investigation on May 14th, 1940, Detective Sergeants Edward Sullivan and William Moore were gunned down. Sergeant Sullivan died of his wounds and Detective Moore, who received a bullet wound to the chest, was so critically injured that he was unable to continue his police career.

 In 1950, the department suffered its second tragedy when on August 19th, Police Officer John Edward Brunner, while checking the house of a vacationing resident, was set upon by a swarm of bees and stung repeatedly. Although Officer Brunner managed to obtain medical attention, he died later that day of anaphylactic shock.

By 1948 the department had grown by only a few men, attaining a strength of twenty-three officers but in the next several years, the number of personnel increased dramatically and its Tarrytown Road Headquarters soon became inadequate. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the current police headquarters took place on October 9, 1956 and the official Opening Day Ceremony occurred on September 9, 1958. The department would continue to grow necessitating further expansion of its facilities. In fact, since the opening of the new police headquarters facility, there have been three additions to the original building. In 1975, a new garage was added and in 1989 an addition to the front of the building to house the Communications Room was erected as was the Court’s Jail Holding Facility. In mid 1994, a major expansion of more than 6,000 square feet was begun which was completed in the summer of 1995.

On July 20th, 1984, misfortune yet again struck the department in the form of a car accident in which Police Officer James Carozza was killed. Officer Carozza, while assisting other police units in attempting to stop a stolen vehicle, was killed instantly when he lost control of his vehicle in a collision with a second car. Ironically, the stolen vehicle that was being pursued then struck Officer Carozza’s disabled police cruiser, which terminated the pursuit and resulted in the apprehension of the violator.

From its humble beginnings in 1910, the Greenburgh Police Department has grown into an agency with an authorized strength of 115 sworn officers utilizing more than 50 vehicles and six bicycles and supported by a staff of 28 full time and 14 part time civilians. Employing the latest in computer technology in the performance of its mission, the department is considered one of the most progressive, efficient and technologically advanced law enforcement agencies in the state. It is also unique in that it is one of only a few police agencies within New York to provide emergency medical services to its constituents.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF POLICING

The idea of a public civil police force originated in England in the eighteenth century. The concept came into being as a means of protecting that nations’ industrial centers, especially London, that were threatened by riots, disorders and crime and as an alternative to the use of military personnel, that were generally employed to put down riots. For a hundred years, the English sought to create a police system that would reflect the democratic values of the country.

Sir Robert Peel is credited with forming the first metropolitan police force in London in 1828. His officers were affectionately known as "bobbies" and their task was to keep the peace by peaceful means. This duty would eventually lead to the police also being referred to as "peace" officers, a designation that survives today and is actually a defined term in New York State law. The lowest ranking police officers were called constables and the City of London was divided into beats with constables providing a day and night patrol. In fact, the acronym COP, by which modern day police officers are referred, is derived from the reference Constable On Patrol. Detectives were not made a part of the London police force until the year 1843.

Police departments began to appear in the United States between 1840 and 1860. The concept of policing in the U.S. was based on the English idea. Our police forces were organized on a quasi-military basis (meaning they had a rank structure similar to the military, although not exactly parallel to it), they wore uniforms, patrolled the streets 24 hours per day, embodied Peel’s concept of "peace" officers and their job was to prevent and investigate crime and prevent disorder. In American police departments, all operations were at first handled by the beat officer. Gradually, the need for specialization became more apparent and detectives were added. The Boston Police Department, for example, was formed in 1854. At its inception it consisted of 250 police officers, six of which were attached to the chief’s office, and 5 detectives.

Prior to the 1930s, police officers in the United States received their orders from local politicians who also appointed them. Obviously, this led to a great deal of corruption and misuse of the police. However, beginning in the 1930s, U.S. police began to endorse the idea that they were enforcers of the criminal law and should not be subject to the whims of local politicians. It was during this time that the law, especially the criminal law became the primary source of police authority. Since that time, police departments across the country have become increasingly more specialized, depending more and more on scientific methods of police investigation.

1917 Photo of the Greenburgh Police Department
1917 Photo of the Greenburgh Police Department
Back Row Left to Right: Sgt Howe, Ptl Stillman, Ptl Windsor, Ptl. McGuinnes
Front Row Left to Right: Ptl. Dornham, Capt. Dobbs, Ptl. McQuillian




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