ADAMS POLICE 1800's
In the early 1890s, the people of Adams were shocked by prevalent alcohol abuse and its associated crime. The local newspaper, The Adams Freeman, and local clergymen united to crusade against a specific violation of the law; the sale of alcohol on Sunday. They campaigned to have the law strictly enforced. On April 1,1895 enough votes were cast to forbid the sale of alcohol in the Town of Adams. It's obvious that the enforcement of this new law would require an established police force.
Police had been on the streets of Adams but were hired as needed at the discretion of the Board of Selectmen. In 1881 and 1882 the Board of Selectmen proposed the establishment of a police department on the Town Warrant but nothing happened. Instead the Selectmen were budgeted an annual amount to be sued for the police. That budget item gradually grew from $800 in 1891 to $1000 in 1894 and then tripled in 1895 when the department was officially formed.
On May 1,1895 the Adams Police Department was sworn in. The first police force consisted of three men: Chief Thomas Curran; Captain John Hodecker, and patrolman John Hiser. In the town report for the fiscal year ending March 1,1896 the Chief wrote, "There are two men on duty during the night and one during the day. The chief does patrol duty as well as the other men and the night and day duty is equally divided, so that each man has one week of day work out of every three." He also reported that the police department badly needed a new station house. The present lockup was next to useless, having only four cells, just large enough for a hanging cot, and a main room hardly four times as large.
At the April 6th Town Meeting, funds were appropriated to "purchase a site and erect thereon a building to be used as a police station and a lockup." Later that month, two more patrolmen were appointed: Henry Brodeur and John Ford. Seven months later, the police station and lockup was completed and occupied.
At the end of the century, a large number of immigrants came to Adams for employment. Between 1895 and 1900 the population increased 42% or 3297 people.
ADAMS POLICE 1900's
In 1900, two more patrolmen were added: William Chalmers and Edward Cassidy. Arrests increased 24% that year and the chief attributed it to the large increase in population.
A riot took place on Sunday, September 24, 1905 at the Polish Catholic Services. A three-way fight erupted between the police and two factions of Polish Catholics. For a while the police were overwhelmed. The obtained reinforcements and suppressed the mob.
For the previous five years Chief Curran had been requesting a private telephone system to connect his men on the beat with the station. The year after the riot, call boxes were installed. Patrolmen began using the telephones to report to the station house on a regular schedule.
Chief Thomas Curran was replaced by his captain John Hodecker in 1908. The force consisted of a captain and six patrolmen as it had been for the previous eight years. The average number of annual arrests for those years was 585. The most frequent reason for arrest was "drunkenness." Between 1900 and 1910, Adams' population grew 17% or 1829 people to total 13,026.
On July 22, 1911a mentally ill Syrian immigrant living in North Adams opened fire on his fellow passengers in a crowed trolley car as it approached the North Adams - Adams line. Three people were killed and five were injured. The man tried to escape but was captured by the other passengers. He was committed to Bridgewater State Prison for the Criminally Insane.
In 1917 there were 1067 arrests, the largest number in the history of the town. Two appointments were made to the force that year; William Vincelette and Albert Baran, the first Polish speaking patrolman.
ADAMS POLICE 1920's
On December 22, 1921 Patrolman Charles Daniels was shot in the abdomen while grappling with a bigamist who escaped from the County Jail. He assisted in bringing him to the police station before being treated at the Plunkett Hospital.
In that same year, Chief Hodecker retired for health reasons. He was replaced by Edward Cassidy who had been on the force since 1900. His first report to the Town of Adams requested a Woman Special Police Officer to act as Matron and "Censor at public dances." He stated, "our department is often embarrassed in dealing with women prisoners, and we receive many complaints from the manner in which public dances are sometimes conducted." He also expressed the need for a motor vehicle in the Police Department. The force finally got that police car in 1925, a "second hand" one.
In 1926 three new patrolmen were added to the force: Ovila "Pete" Fillion, Stanley Zelazo and Daniel Holleran. Chief Cassidy remarked: "none of these men had had previous police experience, and while they are all doing good work, it goes without saying that police officers cannot be trained in one year." Maybe the chief was expressing the need for adequate training or maybe he was commenting on the fact that policemen (and chiefs) were appointed for reasons other than their qualifications. Before the existence of the Civil Service System, elected officials appointed whoever they wanted.
Adams reached its peak population of 13,500 in 1925. The growing problem for the department was traffic control. In 1927, the chief reported that it was "difficult controlling traffic with autos and trolleys on the street together." The department got help when they received an Indian motorcycle and Albert Baran was made "motor-cycle officer." In 1929, the department purchased a brand new Harley-Davidson motorcycle to help police the traffic. In the same year, Thomas Morton was appointed patrolmen and assistant to motorcycle officer Baran.
ADAMS POLICE 1930's
The last trolley car passed through Adams on August 30, 1930. One of Chief Cassidy's traffic problems was eliminated. With more room on Park Street he established diagonal parking on the east side and parallel parking on the west.
In 1933, three new officers were appointed: Chester Dydowicz, Herbert Kointke and Albert Volpi. The Chief also complained that the 7-passenger 1928 Pierce Arrow, which the department was using, was "too large and conspicuous" and that a smaller sedan would be of better use. The next year, a brand new 1934 Ford sedan was purchased.
In the annual reports of 1936, the selectmen chose not to re-appoint Chief Cassidy. In stead they appointed Edward Reid to be police chief. Also in 1936, three new patrolmen were appointed: Fred Major, Frank Kopec and John Cousoule. In 1937, Lawrence Clarkson was appointed patrolman. The next year, 1938, Henry Brodeur retired. He was appointed in 1896 and served on the force for 42 years, the longest service record in the department.
The Annual Town Meeting of 1939 voted to put the police department appointments under Civil Service. Candidates for appointment to the force would have to pass a test to qualify for positions. This protected the police from being pawns in political electoneering and increased professionalism in the department.
Also in 1939 patrolman Raymond Eichorn shot and killed a prisoner who escaped from the Berkshire County jail. After an investigation, Officer Eichorn was cleared of any wrong but he was shaken by the ordeal and he resigned three years later.
ADAMS POLICE 1940-1950's
A change in Federal Labor laws in 1940 prompted a shortening of the work schedule. Officers were granted one day off for every 13 they worked. There was still no special compensation for work on Sundays, holidays and the night shift. As a result, a reserve force was created. This change anticipated the coming of World War II and the loss of available men to fill the ranks of the department. The first reserve force consisted of Charles Schofield, Ray Guettler, Laurent Simard, and John Tarsa (pictured left).
A woman became a member of the department in 1941 to serve as matron. Chief Cassidy had first requested one in 1921 but it was 20 years later that Sadie McPeck was appointed.
John Tarsa was appointed permanent patrolman when he was discharged from the military. IN 1949, Harold Jones and John Soderstrom were appointed. In that year, an additional captain and patrolman were added to the force which now included 15 men plus reserves. That number would increase to 17 in 1952. Additional personnel were needed because the department began the 40-hour workweek. Four appointments were made: Ray Guettler, George Little, Gino Balardini and Nobert Fillion.
In 1950, the police organized Police Athletic League basketball that created activity for young boy athletes. This is the first time in the department's history that the police conducted an organized program in which they interacted with community members beyond the usual scope of law enforcement. The police chief chaired the league but officer Gino Balardini managed it. It has been very successful and was expanded in the 1980's to include girl basketball teams. The program is still in effect today.
In 1955 a school patrol was established as crossing guards for school children. In 1957, Percival Sherman was appointed permanent patrolman and Norm Gamari as a reserve. In 1958 bicycle registration was enacted and 1,082 bicycles were licensed. This system was in effect until 1974 when Massachusetts Correctional Institutions stopped making the plates.
In 1959 Fred Major retired, Norm Gamari became a permanent patrolman and parking meters were installed in the business district. They went into effect on July 17, 1959 and were not replaced until 1999. Also in that year, the new police vehicle was a station wagon. The then popular cars with extra cargo room replaced the sedans.
ADAMS POLICE 1960's
The beginning of the 1960s was the end of Chief Edward Reid's career. He retired having served all but one year on the force as chief. The next day Frank Kopec (pictured left) was appointed as his replacement. In 1960, Edward Olszowy and Joseph Charon were appointed permanent patrolmen. In 1961, Richard Giroux and Theodore Ostrobinski were appointed to the force. In 1965 John Coussoule retired and was replaced by Samuel Delmolino. George Little suffered a heart attack on the job and died. He is the only police officer to die while on duty. Edward Santerre joined the force at that time.
In 1966 Fred Hobart was appointed and Chet Dydowicz retired. Chief Frank Kopec retired in 1968 and was replaced by John Tarsa. Bruce McLaren was appointed a reserve patrolman that year, and Joseph Cardonnel retired.
Chief Tarsa embraced the technological advances in police work. The year he was appointed, radar guns were first employed to control speeding motorists. The old telephone pole call boxes were replaced with two-way radios. This allowed the desk captain to instantaneously contact the officers walking the beat. The budget for these two new electronic systems almost equaled the cost of a patrol car.
Chief Tarsa also oversaw the institution of a new rank of officers, the sergeants. Instead of three captains there were now two and one captain was replaced by two sergeants. In 1969 Larry Clarkson retired and Bruce McLaren was made a permanent patrolman.
ADAMS POLICE 1970-1980's
In 1970 Chief Tarsa implemented a Drug Program with booklets, publication of which was sponsored by public-spirited businessmen, Distribution was made through the cooperation of the local Boy Scouts. In 1971 four officers were trained in the use of the town's breathalyzer. In 1973 laws were changed and drunkenness was decriminalized. The law also lowered the drinking age to 18 from 21, which increased the drinking problem.
The first two years of the 1980s began with new challenges, new directions and new solutions to old problems. Traffic laws changed and the "turn right on red" was legal. The drinking age returned to 21 in Massachusetts and neighboring states. A murder occurred in Adams; the last one occurred in 1911.
The Police Department became the communication center dispatching the ambulance, fire department and monitoring the security alarms that were wired into their system. On March 9, 1982 Chief John Tarsa died and Bruce A. McLaren was appointed acting chief eight days later. In 1983, the new Police Academy in Agawam was opened. The training center in Western Massachusetts was one component in professionalizing the police force.
In the mid 1980s, two unusual issues were addressed: crimes against children and the protection of pedestrians. School children were alerted to the potential threat of strangers by presentations from "McGruff." In 1984 and 1985 pedestrians were the victims of traffic accidents. Two pedestrians were killed in two years. Four orange barrels with signs alerting motorists of pedestrians' rights were placed on Park Street.
In 1985 after a successful investigation, Officer Bruce Farnam arrested "a major drug dealer who was found to have been dealing in pounds of marijuana which were being sold to youths in town." On April 12, 1989, the Board of Selectmen signed a mutual aid agreement with the communities that participate in the Berkshire County Drug Task Force. The department had belonged to the task force for several years, but Adams officers lacked the authority to participate in investigations outside Adams. In 1986 two lengthy investigations led to three individuals being charged in drug trafficking in cocaine. Chief McLaren credited the Task Force, which included Adams Officers: Larry Ordyna, Bruce Farnam, and Allen Mendel, the State Police and other Municipal Departments.
In 1987 The DARE program was instituted in the 5th & 6th grades. The DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Program was conducted over a period of 17 weeks by Officer David Clark. In 1988 the Police Department organized the first non-alcoholic, all-night graduation party at Hoosac Valley High School. This was an alternative to the post graduation parties that were notorious for being potentially dangerous situations. Attendance at the first party was 90% of the graduating class. The parties have been held ever since then.
ADAMS POLICE 1990's to PRESENT DAY
In the 1990's video equipment was purchased that recorded persons placed under arrest for operating under the influence of alcohol. The tapes were used as proof to convict the drivers in the courts. In 1991 all incoming telephone calls were recorded. In 1994 the 911 system was instituted and the personnel receiving the call would immediately know the origin of the phone call. In 1992 and 1993 two local townspeople donated new Glock pistols and ammunition to the police department. Two years later bulletproof vests were purchased for every member of the department.
In 1987 Chief McLaren first reported that steps were being taken to build a new station. Talks were serious and searches for new locations were earnest, but a plan did not formalize for another nine years. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on October 24, 1996, to commence the construction of an addition to the old town hall and the demolition of the old police station.
Chief McLaren, who was the strongest advocate for a new police station, was never able to see it built. He retired his position on August 26, 1996 because of ill health. He died six days after the groundbreaking ceremonies in October. The new facility was named in his honor when it was dedicated on May 10, 1997.
The new police chief appointed by the Board of Selectmen was Herman C. Bishop. He had been a member of the department since 1972. In May 1997, a new type of community policing was established - the bike patrol. Officers Don Poirot and Scott McWhirt became the first officers to patrol on bicycles. On September 20, 1997 Donna Malloy was appointed the first woman permanent patrol officer in the history of the department.