Police Department

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195 French Street
Watertown, CT 06795
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Ph: 860.945.5200

Our History

     The official history of the Watertown Police Department began in 1931 when Victor A Vogelstrom was appointed a full time officer. Officer Fogelstrom worked ten to twelve hours a day, seven days a week for a weekly salary of twenty eight dollars. On March 28th 1936, Officer Louis Jordan was appointed as the second full time officer employed by the town.

     Watertown has had numerous constables whom patrolled part time. Constables were elected positions. In 1933, $10.80 was paid to Hamilton Hardware for an unknown number of Constable Badges. In 1937 Carlo Palomba was elected Constable. Officer Jordan continued as a full time appointed officer which a yearly salary of $1,560.00. Also appointed full time status was Officer John B. Orsini, with a yearly salary of 1,456.00. According to the 1939 annual report, Constable’s Rocco Mara, Mike Dunn, Joseph Bryan, Folsom Cromwell, Paul LeCLair, Louis Trotta, and Carlo Palomba were paid $10.00. Fogelstrom, no longer full time was paid a salary of $46.00. Note that other men are listed as receiving payment from the town in the report, but their function is unknown. In 1939 the Gasoline Service Company was paid $306.18 out of the police budget, and the Waterbury Button Company was paid $5.25.

     On January 27th 1933, due to rash of night time burglaries, Constable Edward Ryan and Officer Victor Fogelstrom were staking out the Justus Oil Station, located on the corner of Main Street and Hillside Avenue in Oakville. Officer Fogelstrom left Constable Ryan to resume patrol, and upon returning the next morning, found Constable Ryan unresponsive on the floor. It was determined that Constable Ryan had been asphyxiated on the fumes from the oil burner in the station. Constable Ryan had lived on Porter Street and is now buried at Mount St. James Cemetery on Porter Street. Constable Ryan’s funeral, which was held at St. John’s Church, was the largest funeral held at the church, to that date. Members of the Watertown Police Department, and the Watertown Fire Department, which Constable Ryan was also a member of, participated in the funeral procession.

     In 1940, Officer Jordan and Officer Orsini continued as full time officers at a salary of approximately $1,500.00. The Constable rate rose to $12.00 yearly. In 1939 Louis Jordan was joined as a full time officer by Officer Godio Columbo and Officer Frank Minnucci. Wolks Department Store in Oakville was paid $160.30 out of the police budget. In 1947, Allyns Clean and Dryers was paid a total of $1.25 for services. In 1948, full time officers Officer Godio Columba was paid $2,333.60. Officer Edward Lovrinovicz was paid $1,440.60. Officer Frank Minnucci was paid $2,633.80, and Officer Carlo Palomba was paid $2,595.70.

     For several years it was felt that a supervisory board should handle the affairs of the police department. As a result a three man police commission was formed, chaired by Watertown’s first police officer Victor Fogelstrom. The other two commissioners’ were George Ryan and Curtiss Lancaster. The consensus of the board was to create a department second to none in efficiency, not only to enforce the laws, but to create good public relations. The board endeavored by reducing the officers work hours from twelve hours a day, six days a week, to eight hours a day six days a week, and a small raise in pay.

     On January 15, 1952, Frank L Lecchi Jr., Frank L Minucci, Carlo J Palomba, and Godio L Colombo were appointed “Special Constables,” followed by Harold V Fogelstrom and Edwin Williams on February 4th 1952. The 1952 annual police report listed Frank Minucci as being appointed Chief of Police on December 5 1952. Peter Laboda was appointed Police Officer on March 2 1953 and Columbo Godio, Carlo Palomba were appointed as Police Officers on January 15th 1952. Edwin Williams was appointed Police Officer on February 4th 1952.

     The 1952 report of the Board of Police Commissioners reported that the department had six officers and one vehicle. The commissioners reported that the police personnel had been instructed in first aid and artificial respiration. The commission also pressed the town to obtain a police radio system. For a number of years the Waterbury Police Department had furnished the Watertown Police with radio service. The board had also pressed the town for a second police vehicle. The board had succeeded in getting state approval for five traffic lights to be installed in town.

     In 1950 a volunteer Civil Defense Auxiliary Police Force was created under Ray Leonard. In 1951, the Town First Selectman, made arrangements with the Waterbury Police Superintendent William Roach to have the Watertown Auxiliary Police train with the Waterbury Volunteers at the Waterbury Police Headquarters on Grand Street. In July 1951, the Auxiliary Police tested the units “telephone fan-out system,’ in a drill conducted at the South School on Davis Street. The drill was a success with all twenty members reaching the school within minutes. The Office of Civil Defense announced that all members of the Auxiliary Police would receive “cruiser car training” with the Watertown Police Officers. Until that point, only eleven auxiliaries had seen “cruiser duty.” In 1952 the Auxiliary Police force attended an eighty hour course at the Waterbury Police Department. In 1953 the auxiliary police were under the direction of Victor Fogelstrom. These 27 trained members had been thoroughly trained in police duty and aide the local police in night patrol duty and at public functions. The auxiliary police force was taken under the direction of Chief Frank Minucci in 1954. The force of 15 men and 4 women met twice monthly to discuss topics pertaining to civil defense. The auxiliary police force went on patrol with local officers every evening from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The auxiliary police force had been schooled in first aid courses and traffic control courses. On the morning of August 19th1955, the Watertown Civil defense mobilized to cope with the worst flood disaster this area had ever experienced. In 1959 the Watertown Civil Defense organized a Civil Defense Survival Plan book outlining the organization and responsibilities. This book laid out the chain of command starting with the Town First Selectman, Civil Defense Director, Police Chief, Deputy Police Chief, Captain, 2 Sergeants, 7 Officers, 9 Supernumeries, and 14 Auxiliaries. The plan lays out the pre attack period, attack period, and post attack period, and concerns the threat of radiological attack. In 1959 Leo Mulcahy, Director of the State Civil Defense Officer, sent a letter to the Town First Selectman stating that this plan is one of Connecticut’s best and most complete survival plans. By 1966 a new siren had been installed on Straits Turnpike to protect the business in that area. Also in 1966 a copy of the book had been sent to the Office of the Mayor, City of New York. Four other states also used this book.

     By 1956, all of the police officers had attended a thirteen week first aid course under the sponsorship of the American Red Cross, and were certified as first aid men. Two of the officers had attended the Waterbury Police Academy. In 1956 the department received a new teletype machine. By 1956 three more police officers were added to the force in addition to a new vehicle. By 1962 the police commission instituted new changes in policy stating that all members of the department, who have not done so, will attend Police Training. The new policy noted that all shifts will be filled “at par” at all times to provide adequate coverage of shifts.

     In 1962 new police cars were purchased. White 1962 Rambler Ambassadors were purchased. The color scheme was changed from black to white. In 1964, Crestwood Ford was awarded the contract to provide the department with three new 1964 cruisers. The net cost of the two 8 cylinder station wagons, and the 8 cylinder heavy duty sedans was $4,513.90. The new vehicles replaced the 1962 Ramblers of the past. The only other bid was presented by Bradshaw Inc Rambler dealer of Oakville.

     By 1963 all of the patrolmen had attended the school program by the Connecticut Police Chiefs Academy. The newest appointed recruit will attend the Connecticut Police Academy. Lieutenant Butler was the first ranking officer to attend a classroom training program presented by the Connecticut Police Chiefs in conjunction with the international Police Chiefs Association. During the fiscal years1965-1966, the Watertown Police Department, consisting of 8 Patrolman, 2 Detectives and 4 Officers investigated 3650 complaints.

     In August of 1967, five officers were promoted by the Board of Police Commissioners. Acting Police Chief Carlo Palomba was appointed Chief of Police. Frank Lecchi was appointed Detective Sergeant. Ned Williams was appointed Lieutenant. Joseph Ciriello was appointed Deputy Chief. Frank D’Amico was appointed Detective Patrolman. Chief Palomba had been elected Constable in 1937 and served in this capacity until entering military service in 1942. Chief Palomba served with the military police in the pacific theater. Chief Palomba separated from the service in 1946 after reaching the rank of Second Lieutenant. While in the service, Chief Palomba graduated from the Criminal Investigation School, Allied Military Government School, and leadership school.

     In 1970, the Watertown Police Union and Town Manager Paul Smith reached an agreement on a new extra duty rate. The new rate, effective September 5th 1970 was a minimum of twenty dollars for four hours, and five dollars for each additional hour up to eight hours. After eight hours, the rate rose to seven dollars and fifty cents. The extra duty rate for Saturday was thirty dollars for four hours, and the rate for Sunday was fourty dollars for four hours. A minimum charge for any job where alcohol was served was thirty dollars for four hours. The extra duty rate for New Years Eve was forty dollars for three hours and ten dollars for each additional hour.

     The first police department/jail was located in the first firehouse, which was located on Deforest Street next to the current Munson house in the current Water Department building. On July 12, 1932 four prisoners were being held in the jail on $200.00 bonds. The jail cells, which were attached to the western exterior wall of the building were exposed to the elements. Civilians remember walking by and seeing the prisoners in the cells. When Constable Harty went to the jail one morning, he found the cell door leaning against the building. The prisoners were gone. Examination showed that a wrench had been used to remove the bolts from the door. An accomplice is believed to have slipped the men the wrench. A prisoner on the other side of the jail told authorities that he heard a vehicle running and the men banging on the cell door. He placed the time of the escape at 1:30 am. The jail had been the scene of many breaks in the past. In about 1924, prisoners named Bob Semple lit a broom on fire and burned the lock off of the door, and made his escape.

     The Police Department moved in the basement of the Town Hall where it remained until June 13th 1981 when the current Police Headquarters was dedicated on French Street.