History


By Mark A. Leno, Jr.

I. Introductory Discussion

A. Although Dover was founded in 1623, it wasn’t until the coming of the American Revolution in the 1770’s that the City began to establish a Police history. In 1771 the colony of New Hampshire was divided into 5 counties. Dover was chosen as the Strafford County Seat and the Court of common pleas (equivalent of a District Court) and the Superior Court were built here.

II. The Early Years

A. The first jail in Dover was the County facility built in 1773 on "Jail Hill" in the area opposite Saint Joseph’s Church off Central Avenue. This jail, which housed captured British soldiers during the revolution, remained there until a new County Jail was built on Silver Street in 1827.

B. The first town records that specifically mention the Dover Police Department were the 1835 Town reports which listed the "services" of 7 Police Officers. From the reports it appears that the early Dover Police Officer’s were paid an annual fee of $10 with additional fees paid for their "services" performed. Examples of services and fees listed were as follows: (from the 1836 annual report)

1. April 6th, for going to Water Street to quell a riot, 50 cents

2. April 13th, drawing complaint against Linton for drunkenness, 50 cents

3. April 23rd, dispersing Irish men fighting near Savils on Sabbath, 75 cents

III. The First Courts

A. The early Dover Courts were very powerful. In an article published in The Dover Enquirer January 30th, 1838, the Judge of the Dover Court of Common Pleas found Elijah Nutt of Wolfeboro guilty of stealing a sheep and sent him to the State Prison for 5 years. Another man, William S. Leighton was found guilty of breaking into a shop and stealing a pair of boots and sentenced to the State Prison for 3 years.

B. Not only were the sentences long but the fines were paid to the Police Officer. In 1838 Dover Police Officer Benjamin F. Guppy was listed as receiving $16 from the fines of 5 individuals. Apparently crime did pay in the 1830’s.

IV. The Mid 1800’s

A. The Dover Police Department received its first Police badges in 1851 according to the incidental expenses portion of the town report. Seven (7) badges were ordered from the firm of J & J Holt for $5.50. Also the same year, 16 "night watch" Officers were hired for a set fee of $10 with additional income for each service call added.

B. In 1853 the town updated its police regulations (City Ordinances rather than Department procedures) and attempted to crack down on the drunken brawls that often plagued its streets. The regulations stated, "no person shall make any brawls or tumult in any street, lane or alley, or other public place, be guilty of any rude, indecent or disorderly conduct or shall insult or wantonly impede any person thereon or shall throw any stones, bricks, snow balls or dirt or play at ball, or at any game where a ball is used."

C. When the citizens of Dover voted to accept the act to make Dover a City in 1855 it also initiated the hiring of the first full time Police employees with the establishment of a City Marshall (Police Chief). In the first annual report of the City Marshall, for the years of 1856-57 it listed the Department as making 101 arrests of which 95 were convicted. Of the 95 convictions, 57 of them were for intoxication. In 1856 the City Marshall’s office was put into the City hall which was located at the Corner of Washington Street and Central Avenue. In July 1857 a "lock up" was built within this office. The total cost of the "lock up" was $222.01 which included the building, papering and furniture. In the 1858 annual report of the City the Police Station (as it was now called - previously it was the City Marshall’s Office) contained a desk, clock, ten chairs, six cushions, stove and funnel, a looking glass, one coal hood and shovel, five tin dippers, one glass lantern, six handcuffs, one leather strap, six mattresses, four blankets, three tin chambers, one water pail, a hatchet and gas fixtures.

D. In his 1867 report, Dover Mayor E.V. Brewster wrote that "we have reason to congratulate ourselves that the change in our Police system has been made permanent, with a stipulated compensation for day and night service. I think that experience has shown that a small number of men employed all the time can do the work better than a very much larger force placed on duty in the latter part of the day and evening." Though night watchmen and night police had been hired on and off over the previous years, the hiring of officers to work full time in 1867 resulted in around the clock protection in the City of Dover for the first time.

E. In the Mayor’s address of 1871, it is written that the size of the police force was too small and that "for the immediate notice of fires, the correction of evil practices, and the safety of our dwelling houses, stores and manufactures, we need at least 4 competent and faithful night watchmen, who should also be regular police officers, and serve afternoons and evenings." The Mayor added that in order to meet the expenses of hiring the 4th officer, the night force will be required to light and extinguish the street lamps of the city.

F. Additionally, as the city began to recognize the need for additional police protection it passed an ordinance in March 1882 requiring the City Marshall to post a policeman at the police department from 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. A year later, in March 1883, the city passed an additional ordinance requiring that a policeman be posted on Central Square near the police department to answer the call box that was placed at City Hall. In 1885 a City ordinance ordered the City Marshall to post a night watchman at the Sawyer Mills (on the south side of town) from 7:00 p.m to 4:00 a.m. The pay for the night watchman was set at $600.00 a year.

G. In 1887, the city passed an ordinance regarding the rules and regulations of the police department. Included in the 12 sections were the job descriptions and the hours of work and pay. The annual pay for the City Marshall was set at $1,000.00 and the Assistant City Marshall was to receive $300.00.

H.  On December 31, 1888, Dover Police Special Officer George E. Pray was killed in the line of duty.  Officer Pray was shot and killed in Madbury while trying to take a man named Charles Tanner into custody.  Dover’s City Marshal, James Fogarty, had been notified by a man named John Huckins that Tanner was at his house in Madbury but needed to be returned to the Concord Insane Asylum.  A few years earlier, Tanner had escaped from Concord and Huckins had successfully appealed to the courts so that he could take custody of Tanner as his guardian.  Huckins reported to Marshall Fogarty that he could no longer control Tanner and asked for officers to return him to the Concord Asylum.  Special Officer George Pray, along with a man named William Robinson (no indication that he was a police officer), went to the residence and confronted Tanner at the dinner table.  When Officer Pray told Tanner that he was there to arrest him and bring him back to Concord, Tanner left the table and ran upstairs.  As the officer and Robinson followed, Tanner emerged from a bedroom upstairs with an single barrel muzzleloader and shot Officer Pray in the chest.  Officer Pray fell into Robinson’s arms.  Robinson carried him down the stairs and placed him on the floor where he died.  Tanner fled the house, likely out the second floor window.

Once word reached Dover, several officers went to the house and began to look for Tanner.  Late that night, he was found in his father’s barn, now armed with a rifle, and taken into custody.  He was brought back to Dover and soon pled guilty.  It was determined that he was insane and he was returned to the Concord Insane Asylum where he died several days later.

V. The Fire of 1889

A. In 1889, the second Dover City Hall fire took place, and unlike the first fire in 1866, destroyed the building and the police department. In the rededication booklet of the new City Hall was the following story of the fire: "In the station was one drunken fellow who was dancing and singing for amusement, and in the tramp room was 6 of that fraternity. Officer Robertson as he stood near the $165.00 jail thought he smelled smoke and went into the tramps’s room but there was no fire there. In opening the door that leads to the main cellar, he encountered a cloud of smoke. He retreated for a moment, and pushed himself into the cellar, where he found the floor of the courtroom in the vicinity of the big furnace that was used to heat it all on fire. As quickly as he could, he was back in the station, closing the door behind, and then gave an alarm from box #31."

VI. A New Beginning

At the turn of the century the Dover Police Department began a new era where professionalism, technology, and job specialization continues to improve right up to the present day.

On January 28, 1903, a Police Commission was created in Dover that lasted a little more than 50 years. It was during the earlier years that the Commission made great strides in improving the Department.

One of the first actions of the Commission was to establish new Department rules and regulations that lead to work schedule changes, pay raises, and new equipment.

City Marshal James A. Fogarty wrote regarding the new Police Commission in his 1903 Annual Report:

"The result of this change has been to improve the discipline and efficiency of the Police Force. The officers are more punctual in attendance to their duties, and are willing and strictly obedient to orders. This must of necessity (will) improve the efficiency of the Force."

VII. New Hours And Equipment

The Dover Police uniform in 1903 consisted of a dark blue double breasted frock coat, a blue vest made single-breasted, blue pants, a light helmet for summer and a dark blue helmet for fall and spring. During the winter months patrolmen wore a Scotch police cap with "letters in front". A black leather belt was around the waist and a 20" "club" was worn in a loop on the outside of the coat. Additionally, "police buttons" were to be furnished by the Department and remain the property of the City.

In 1905 the first police call boxes were installed throughout the downtown area. By 1907 the work week of the officers was changed from 11 hour shifts to 10 hour shifts for the "day officers" and 9-hour shifts for the "night officers". The work week was still 6 days on and one day off. The 40 hour work week would not come to Dover until June 1955.

Manning for the Police Department in 1907 consisted of a City Marshal, Assistant Marshal, Captain of the Watch, Two day officers, 7 night officers and 92 specials.

The first attempts to keep track of those arrested in Dover began in 1908 when fingerprinting and photographing began for some "prisoners." City Marshal James B. Adams wrote, "During the year, the large number of criminals and most of the lodges have been fingerprinted and a good English description has been taken of all persons arrested or applying at the Station for a night’s lodging. For the more serious offenses, the prisoners have been photographed, Bertilloned, and fingerprinted, these have been placed on the new identification cards and filed for reference. A new disposal card (8X5) has been adopted by the Department for filing these arrests, in order to keep a record of each individual taken into custody."

VIII. The First Police Vehicles

The first police vehicle came in 1912 when a motorcycle was purchased for motor-vehicle enforcement. It written in the 1912 Police Annual Report that the motorcycle officer made eight speed-related "arrests" during the year.

By the early 1920’s the Police Department had Officers assigned to traffic posts in the downtown area to help the increasing number of vehicles moving. Stop and Go signs were also used to control traffic.

In 1920 the Dover Police Association was formed to assist Department employee’s in purchasing their own uniforms and in 1921 a gym was established within the Police Department that included a punching bag, chest weights, dumb bells, Indian clubs, and a Whitely exerciser.

IX. Prohibition In Dover

With the "roaring 20’s" came the gangster era and prohibition. Because alcohol was illegal in the United States many attempted to obtain alcohol through illegal methods which included transporting it in cars from "stills" or from nearby Canada.

During prohibition, Dover had a single police motorcycle for motor vehicle enforcement. However, by using "private cars" as well as the motor bike, the Dover Police did its best to stop the illegal flow of alcohol. Annual arrest statistics show that in 1923 the Department seized seven cars for illegal transportation of alcohol, 12 cars in 1925, and six cars in 1926. Additionally, approximately 300 alcohol related arrests were made during the same years.

X. Another Fire And The War Years

In 1933 the Dover City Hall once again burned down. In the August 4, 1933, issue of the Foster’s Daily Democrat it was reported that the Police Department in the basement of City Hall contained two prisoners and eight lodgers when the fire broke out. All occupants were removed without injury but it appeared one of the "guests" had a problem when they removed him from the building. In the article it was written, "One of the lodgers, while the flames were at their fiercest, argued long and loud with the officers for not returning to the fiery furnace and recovering his shaving razor which he had left behind."

In 1935 the Department moved into its present home in the basement of the newly constructed Municipal Building.

During the World War II years, 1940-1945, the Department received its first dispatch radio which could only relay messages between the City and the NH State Police in Concord, N.H. Individual radios would not replace the call boxes until 1965.

Also during the war years, the Dover Police Department had its first woman sworn in as an officer. In 1945, City Marshal Andrew H. McDaniel appointed clerk and stenographer Claire St. Cyr a police officer. Marshal McDaniel also swore in the second police woman, Carolyn Foley, in 1946.

XI. The Beginning Of Specialized Assignments

During the 1960s, under Chief Richard Flynn, the Department began specialized positions and training in investigations, juvenile matters, "sexual deviates" investigations, and scuba diving.

In 1972 Charles D. Reynolds became Chief and he continued to specialize the Department and update the dispatch and records bureaus. Under Chief Reynolds the Department added an Animal Control Officer, Fleet Mechanic, computerized records and dispatch center, Field Training programs, and a fatal accident reconstruction team.

On March 20, 1988, the Dover Police Department became the first police agency in New Hampshire and the 62nd agency in the United States to be nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies Inc.

XII. Enhanced Crime Fighting

During the decades between the 1970s-1990s the Dover Police Department has taken several steps to increase crime-fighting abilities and reduce the amount of serious criminal activity.

To better assist the community the Department has formed specialized assignments for crime scene investigations, sexual assault investigations, fatal motor vehicle accidents and drug investigations.

Each patrol officer is trained to dust for fingerprints and handle preliminary crime scene investigations.

A police laboratory is available for processing evidence for latents, fibers, and other trace evidence and a crime scene/accident reconstruction van is available for use in the field.

City statistics for major crimes such as burglary, theft, and robbery have fallen throughout the decade. In 1977 there were 281 burglaries in Dover compared to 64 in 1996. In 1981, 1060 thefts were reported and in 1996, 471 theft reports were made. Eleven robberies were reported in 1984 and none were reported in 1996.

XIII. A Community Effort And Other Changes

In 1991 William Fenniman, Jr., became the 24th Chief of Police for the City of Dover. Under his leadership the Department continued to specialize and has become an award-winning agency for its anti-drug youth programs. Anti-drug peer groups were established in all the local public schools within Dover. Additionally, after-school programs are held for parents and students.

Lap top computers and a mobile data system are now used in all patrol vehicles. A state recognized crime scene/investigative team has been organized to handle all crime scenes. Neighborhood Watch/Riverwatch programs have been established using volunteers from the public and senior citizens work as volunteers within the Police Department.

XIV. Police K-9 Comes To Dover

In 1992 the Dover Police Department obtained its first Police K-9. Drigon was purchased in 1991 and was assigned to Officer John Usher. Retired after 4 years with the Department, Drigon conducted numerous searches for suspects and missing persons and recovered over $200,000 of illegal drugs. The Dover Police Department presently has two police K-9s.

XV. Conclusion

Today the Dover Police Department handles approximately 26,000 calls for service a year and is made up of several bureau’s under two Divisions. The Field Operations Division consists of Patrol, the Animal Control Officer and the Traffic Bureau. The Support Service Division includes the Communications Bureau, Records Bureau, Special Investigations Bureau, Training/Personnel/Supply, Legal Bureau, and Special Programs Bureau.

The Department continues to be an innovative and powerful force in the community of Dover and a leader in the law enforcement community in New Hampshire and beyond.

City Marshals/Chiefs of Police of Dover

Daniel Smith 1856-1857
Shubael Varney 1858-1859 
Jonathan P. Baker 1860
Daniel Smith 2 Jan 1861-9 Oct 1861
Lucien B. Legg 4 Oct 1861-1863
George W. Colbath Jan 1864-13 Sept 1864
Gilman Vickery 13 Sept 1864-31 Dec 1868
Joseph S. Abbott 1869
Jonathan P. Baker 1870
Joseph S. Abbott 1871-1872
Jasper G. Wallace 1873-1876
John W. Rines 1877-1879
John S. Dame 1880-1882
Reuben A. Libbey 1883-1884 
James A. Fogarty 1885-24 Mar 1904
Edward S. McKone Mar 1904-1907
James B. Adams 1908-1912 
Chief Edward S. Clarke 1913-1914
Thomas W. Wilkinson 1915-1920
Charles C. Crowley 1921-1932
Andrew H. McDaniel 1932-1 Mar 1952
John J. Murphy 12 Mar 1952-1959
Chief Richard Flynn 3 Jun 1959-22 Jan 1972 
Acting Chief Paul H. Proulx 23 Jan 1972-26 Jun 1972
Chief Charles D. Reynolds 26 Jun 1972-31 Dec 1990
Chief William W. Fenniman, Jr. 9 Jan 1991- 2007 
Chief Anthony F. Colarusso, Jr. 22 March 2007-

 

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