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