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Arlington Police Department
Historical Perspective


Chief Alonzo Harriman, in his annual report to the Board of Selectmen in 1894, outlined what he felt was the role and mission of the police officer working in the Town of Arlington. Chief Harriman stated, “The police officer should be civil and courteous at all times, and so conduct himself as to insure the moral support of the people ... no other department of municipal government is so much expected. Nor is there any that so much needs the encouragement of all law abiding citizens”.

1853: The history of the Arlington Police Department dates to 1853, when John Hartwell was appointed a special police officer, in addition to town constable, and Public Undertaker and is mandated to arrest and prosecute any and all persons who may be gambling in or about the town. Prior to this time the town’s three constables and a watchman did nighttime policing.

1868: Hartwell was promoted to Chief of Police and along with four assistants he is responsible for the safety and maintaining the good order of the public.

1874: Chief Hartwell is appropriated the sum of $1,000 and reports a total of 60 arrests.

1877: Chief Hartwell reported a total of 116 arrests. He had one officer in the center, one officer assigned to Upper Arlington, and one assigned to lower Arlington. Additionally all vagrants coming into the town were required to report to the police and the station now houses the overflow.

1882: The town still had three officers along with the chief and special officers they can call upon during special events. The department has one day officer, who works from 6:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. and night officers, who works from 7 p.m. until 4 a.m., except from Oct. 1 to April 1, when they work until 5 a.m.

1883: The first station was in the basement of the old Town Hall, and two cellblocks were built. The Arlington Police Court was consolidated with the Cambridge Court.

1884: Eugene Mead was appointed Chief.

1889: The department records 109 arrests, and the chief reports to the Board of Selectmen that he is in need of additional officers since the population of the town is continuing to grow and the amount of visitors in increasing due to the electric car.

1894: Alonzo Harriman appointed chief and the first Sergeant, John Barry, is appointed. Sgt. Barry is placed in charge of the town at nighttime. A daily record book is kept for the first time.

1901: July 1, 1901, Officer Garrett Cody was shot and killed in the line of duty. He was appointed to the department on April 11, 1892. He was born in Arlington on May 6, 1865, and was educated in the Arlington public schools. He married Ellen McCarthy on Feb. 3, 1890, and was the father of five children. He was buried in St. Paul’s cemetery in Arlington.

Facts of the case : A man who was working on the Squire estates stopped a fruit peddler on Massachusetts Avenue, and an argument ensued over the price of fruit. The fruit peddler was assaulted with his own knife, and Officer Cody was dispatched to the scene. Cody spotted the suspect on Henderson Street and while trying to apprehend him a scuffle ensued in which the suspect took Cody’s gun. The suspect fled, and Cody pursued the man to the Muller Property, which is the last house on the left on the Arlington side of the Alewife Brook, and Cody attempted to persuade the suspect into giving up the gun. Cody attempted to persuade the suspect for several minutes when the suspect shot Cody once, then walked over to where he laid and shot him several more times (deposition of John Keenan from Charlestown who witnessed the shooting). Cody was taken to Mass. General Hospital, where it was determined he had been shot four times and he died at 8 p.m. without regaining consciousness. The suspect was arrested by the Cambridge Police Department and brought to the Arlington jail. He was later returned to the Cambridge jail because a large crowd had gathered outside of police headquarters and they feared for the safety of the prisoner.

1905: First pedestrian fatality occurs on Mystic Street near Chestnut Street, an 8-year-old boy was killed crossing the street.

1906: Thomas Urquhurt is appointed chief and becomes one of the longest tenured chiefs in department history. The electric trolley on a fair Saturday and Sunday brings anywhere from 40,000 to 60,000 people to upper Arlington where such a large volume of people causes major concerns for local residents. The call box system is put into effect where officers now have contact with the station. Signs warning motorists of dangerous intersections are posted in town.

1908: Patrolman Daniel Hooley is promoted to inspector with the rank of lieutenant.

1911: Town votes to place the police under the jurisdiction of Civil Service.

1913: The first motorcycle purchased by the department was an Indian. Officer Belyea was assigned to cover the outlying districts of Arlington, along with traffic control, and he logged over 2,500 miles his first year. The town paid $280.79 for the cycle, including supplies.

1915: The department logged over 543 arrests and the population of the town grew to more than 15,000. There is a reported increase of motor vehicle traffic by 31%. Officers are assigned to fixed traffic posts for the first time.

1916: The town paid Hudson Auto $617.50 and the department now has a combination ambulance-patrol wagon and the vehicle was a 1916 Hudson Touring car.

1919: The fatigue hat replaces the helmet worn by officers.

1922: Traffic count indicates there are over 1,500 cars per hour passing through the intersection at Massachusetts Avenue at Mystic Street.

1924: The department consists of a chief, 1 lieutenant, 3 sergeants, and 23 patrolmen. They log 1,808 arrests for the year. The increased problems with motor vehicles and traffic congestion resulted in the formation of a traffic squad. The squad consisted of 1 sergeant and 8 officers assigned to fixed traffic posts, along with a police motorcycle. On February 4th the department adopted the metropolitan style of uniform.

1927: The department moved into the new police station at 7 Central Street, and Officer J. Burns turned in the first duty call. The first stop-and-go traffic signal was installed at Gray Street and Highland Avenue.

1928: An act passed by the Legislature placing the installation and operation of stop-and-go traffic lights, stop signs, and throughways under the jurisdiction of the state Board of Public Works.

1929: The first officers were selected to attend 30 days of training conducted by the state constabulary at Boston.

1931: The department is the first in the state to be awarded a license to operate a two-way radio for police work by the Federal Radio Commission.

1932: Two-way radios are installed in cruisers allowing officers to have instant communication with the station and other departments.

1933: Arlington was the first department in Massachusetts to install two-way radios in police motorcycles.

1975: The department was reorganized under the Department of Community Safety and communications and support services are consolidated into the same organization.

1983: The department moved to a new headquarters located at 112 Mystic Street.

1986: Joyce Wilson was the first women officer hired by the department.

1991: Motorcycles reintroduced to the department for traffic duty and to assist in patrolling the newly constructed Minuteman Bike path.

1993: Officer Joyce Wilson was assigned to the Inspectors to create and head up the newly formed Domestic Violence Unit.

1999: Director Eugene Del Gaizo retired as head of the department after serving 32 years.

1999: Frederick Ryan is appointed Chief of Police.

2000: The department is reorganized into three major divisions and the department appointed its first woman ranking officer, Sgt. Juliann Flaherty. The new "user friendly" divisions implemented were as follows:

Community Services Division - headed by a police Captain this unit is tasked with effectively deploying all uniformed and patrol personnel. A new Traffic Unit & Community Services Unit (Community Policing) were added to the Community Services Division.
Support Services Division - headed by a police Captain this unit includes the Criminal Investigations Bureau (CIB), Records Bureau, Training Unit, Scheduling Office, & Public Safety Communications.
Professional Standards - this unit is headed by a police Captain charged with maintaining the department's information technology, development of departmental policies and procedures, and ensuring that all personnel maintain a high level of professional standards.
During the reorganization process the department's Strategic Planning committee re-defined the department Mission Statement and developed a department motto of, "Proactive & Proud" to reflect the department's move to a "problem solving" approach to policing.

2019: Chief Frederick Ryan retired as head of the department after serving 20 years.

2019: The department appointed its first female Acting Chief by promoting Captain Juliann Flaherty to the position.