Police dept. sure has grown over the years

Published Wednesday, August 29, 2007 in the Holyoke Plus section in The Republican. Go to www.masslive.com for more interesting stories.

The Holyoke Police Department had only six men when it was established in 1850. Today there are 125 members, including a chief, four captains, eight lieutenants, 15 sergeants and 98 patrolmen.

By the turn of the century, the Police Department had grown to 46 members, including the chief-or marshal-assistant marshal, one captain, one lieutenant, one matron and 42 patrolmen. Almost all of the members of the force at this time were of Irish descent.

Initially, the police worked in the basement of the City Hall until they moved into the annex on July 8, 1915. Twenty-four adult male cells and six female cells were more than adequate to accommodate criminal offenders for that time. They even had a juvenile holding room.

In 1924, the Detective Bureau was equipped with instruments and devices for the Bertillion System of identification (measurement of bones and body structure) as well as a complete filing and records system-making the Holyoke Police Department one of the most up-to-date departments in the country.

By 1974, the department had moved to 165 Sargeant St. The dispatch, cell block and Detective Bureau remained at the annex building.

In 1980, the department moved into a new station behind the City Hall. It had an unusual design that was built under a parking lot with 78- space municipal parking lot. They worked in the building until water infiltrated walls creating mildew in the carpeting, ventilation and electrical systems.

In 1997, a new police headquarters was opened on 220 Appleton St. Within this modern facility, nine matrons, 16 dispatchers and 12 clerical workers assist the police force. The department serves approximately 44,000 residents and receives an estimated 45,000 calls to dispatch assistance annually.

William G. Ham was the first City Marshall, the equivalent of today’s chief, according to the Holyoke Police Department’s web site-www.holyokepd.org.

Ham’s prowess and policing expertise was well known. His biggest challenges at the time was drunkenness, rowdies, vice and petty thievery.

Today, Chief of Police, Anthony R. Scott was appointed by Mayor Sullivan in in May 2001. He has states on the department’s Web site that the department "is working very hard to reduce crime and impact violence in this industrious Western Massachusetts city and that the outstanding efforts of the men and women of the police department have resulted in a reduction in crime." He believes "that the use of innovative initiatives and working with other city, state and federal agencies, the district attorney’s office, the Holyoke Police Department has impacted crime and enhanced the quality of life of our residents."

Before officers used automobiles to patrol the streets, they used a horse-drawn wagon. The wagon was stored at Suffolk and Railroad streets.

The driver of the wagon was summoned, when needed to transport intoxicated or disorderly people, by a bell that was rung from headquarters a block away.

In the 1920’s, the police station was equipped with one telephone with a three-digit number that officers used to contact from call boxes throughout the city. Sixty-five call boxes were active at one time.

By 1952, a 40-hour workweek was instituted, and by 1930 walking beats were augmented by a Ford cruiser, four motorcycles (Indian Motorcycles manufactured in neighboring Springfield) and a horse-drawn wagon.

A very successful community policing program was started in1980. The program helps to identify problems that cause crimes and works on a collaborative effort for solutions to the problems.

Certified mountain bike patrol officers assist in police service, accidents and medical emergencies. The bikes have given officers easier access to criminals and have been a wonderful tool, to which children have been able to relate.

Officers speak to neighborhood groups, participate in business and civic events, consult with social agencies, and take part in education programs for school children.

Since the Holyoke Police Department’s inception 157years ago, the women and men have worked hard to earn residents’ respect and support.

© 2007 The Republican. All rights reserved. Used with permission