Welcome to the official website of the City of Middletown Police Department. It is my honor to serve as your Chief of Police, and I am proud to share with you an overview of the outstanding services that our organization provides to the Middletown community. The City of Middletown Police Department has a long and storied history, one that dates back more than 125 years to 1888. For generations, the dedicated men and women of this organization have been protecting and serving our city, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, with the highest level of integrity and professionalism. Collectively, we are committed to maintaining the high quality of life that residents and visitors have come to expect from the City of Middletown. However, we also recognize that in order for our police department to be truly successful in achieving our mission, we must have the respect and unwavering support of the people whom we serve.
“Community policing” is an essential component of law enforcement efforts in the 21st Century. This can be attributed to community policing’s deep roots in transparency and its goal of establishing mutual trust between the police department and the citizenry. The concept requires a collective approach, with the open exchange of ideas and information, so that the complex challenges that exist within our society can be more effectively addressed. I am thoroughly committed to this endeavor, and will work tirelessly to strengthen my department’s bond with our community through new and progressive outreach activities. I would also encourage you to review this website, as well as those of our community partners, to take full advantage of the various opportunities to make a difference within your neighborhood. Together, we can build a stronger, safer community!
As part of our focus on building stronger relationships with our community, the Middletown Police Department is assigning officers to conduct foot patrols within the residential neighborhoods of the city. As the warmer weather approaches, you should begin to notice uniformed police officers on foot patrol in your ward. Please do not be alarmed! In fact, if you see an officer on patrol, we encourage you to stop them and say hello. Feel free to discuss community issues and other concerns you might have, so that our department can be more effective in addressing your needs. Chief Bethencourt believes strongly in building community trust, and he created this assignment as a means to provide residents with a means for direct communication with our police officers. We look forward to meeting you!
In 1772 John McGarrah and John Patterson were appointed as Constables in the Town of Wallkill. At that time Middletown was part of the Town of Wallkill, and Constable McGarrah and Patterson would have been responsible for the Middletown area as well. Middletown incorporated as a Village in 1848. A Village Charter was adopted in 1872 which divided the Village into four wards, set the number of Aldermen to eight, and established a Village Police Department. Village records from 1828 list Lewis Parsons as Police Constable, and Thomas Ogden as Pound Master. Parsons was responsible for law enforcement on a part-time basis, while Ogden collected stray animals and returned them to their owners for a fee.
The Middletown Police Department continued to expand and in 1878, with the President of the Village also acting as Police Chief, it consisted of nine policemen. The first set of rules and regulations was produced on April 26, 1884. They were handwritten by Village President James N. Pronk.
In 1888, Middletown became a City and, by charter, the police force was set at eight, although the Mayor could appoint special Constables. The Common Council was given the power to appoint not more than eight persons as Police Constables, who held the position for one year. No person could be appointed to the position who was not a citizen of the United States, who had been convicted of a crime, or who could not read and write in English. The annual salary was set a $700.
In 1912, the Police Department was located in the new City Hall on James Street. Prior to this time, it had been located on Center Street. When City Hall opened in 1912, the first person one encountered when entering the building on James Street was the Desk Sergeant. The Police Department remained in City Hall until March of 1972, when it moved into the present day location, which had been the U.S. Post Office.
In 1942, the Middletown Police Commission was established, in part to insulate the force from politics. The five member Commission acts in an advisory role. The Mayor acts as Chairman of the Commission, and the Chief of Police serves as its Secretary. No more than two persons from the same political party can be appointed to the Commission. The first Board of Police Commissioners, which went into effect on July 1, 1942, was made up of Mayor H. H. Smith, J. Lester Burnett, Frank A. Monaghan, John D. Botti, and Robert F. Cunningham.
A more complete history of the Middletown Police Department can be obtained from the publication "Middletown's Finest" available from:
Middletown & the Wallkill Precinct
25 East Ave. Middletown, NY 10940 (845) 342-0941