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History of Policing the Town of Uxbridge
Peter B. Emerick

Police work in the Town of Uxbridge dates to its earliest foundation when the Town separated from Mendon. The first measure of securing public safety was the appointment of Constables. These were elected positions held by persons that acted when called upon to make arrests, prosecute crimes and conduct investigations. No record has been found where anyone was ever paid for the services rendered. They were however reimbursed for out of pocket expenses. In 1910 Constable James Fisher wrote that he had incurred the expense of up to $300.00 in enforcing and prosecuting the towns liquor laws and that he was considering resigning unless he was reimbursed. Fisher stated he had made fourteen arrests and spent considerable time investigating complaints and testifying in court during the three years prior. No record was found where the Town actually paid Fisher; he did however run for reelection the following year. Constables relied on the State Police and the local Judges to conduct investigations and inquests. Many accounts of Judge Arthur Putnam investigating and conducting hearings on "suspicious deaths" had occurred.

In 1922 the Town hired its first full time patrolman. The announcement read; " Uxbridge, December 22- William H. Smith was Monday night appointed by the selectmen to be the night patrolman of the town until the annual March meeting. Mr. Smith began his duties Monday night. The town has needed such a man for years and nearly a businessman in town has asked for a patrolman. Within the last three months Uxbridge has had more robberies committed than any other town in the Commonwealth. Why do the robbers pick on Uxbridge? It is because they know that in the early morning Uxbridge is unprotected. Mr. Smith was appointed by the Chief of Police to do the night duty on Saturday and Sunday nights last October and since that time Officer Smith has been faithful on the job. Mr. Smith has been connected with the Worcester Suburban Electric Company for some time and will be compelled to give up this position to protect the town. The town has already furnished Officer Smith with a uniform, overcoat, nightstick, etc. so that he is equipped to handle the job. George Burt and ex-service man filed an application for the job". Smith was not long for employment as the night patrolman. In March of 1923 the finance committee recommended not funding the night patrolman position, Smith was subsequently out of employment. He died suddenly before the years’ end. Two part time motorcycle officers were hired to deal with the increasing automobile traffic. They worked three days per week and were charged with the enforcement of traffic regulations established by town by-law. One of these officers was Edgar Peel. He was later promoted to Sergeant, a rank he held until his retirement.

  

The Chief responsible for appointing Smith was James Fisher. Fisher was appointed chief in March unseating occupant Patrick Carmody. Fisher was 73 years old when he was made chief. He had been a police officer/constable for 28 years. He was widely known as, "one of the best Officers in Southern Worcester County". He was the towns liquor officer, keeper of the lockup and town hall janitor. These duties suited Fisher well since he owned and lived at the first Chester House which was located on what is now Park St. He agitated the idea of a uniformed special police force and took measures begin such. The town had in place the position of Traffic Officer. Patrick Carmody served in that capacity for many years.

Carmody was reappointed Chief and served in that capacity until 1949. Although he was never a full time employee of the Town, he found the time to oversee the day to day operations and establish the addition of the Police Station to the north end of the Town Hall. This section was destroyed in the hurricane of 1938 when the tower of the Town hall came crashing down upon it.
  
The first town lockup was located in the basement of the town hall. It was built in 1881 and occupied the south corner of the building basement. It consisted of two cells with wooden benches and iron rod doors. People taken into custody were detained in dark, dingy, unsanitary quarters. They were generally left alone in the building since there were no full time occupants. An inspection in July of 1914 by the State Inspector of Public Buildings condemned it "in no uncertain terms". A remodeled cell area was constructed in the north side of the town hall basement after the storm damage of the 1938 Hurricane.

The first police cruiser purchased by the town was in 1950. It was voted at the annual town meeting "to appropriate the sum of $3000.00 from the surplus funds of the town to purchase for the Police Department a new two-door sedan type car equipped with a two way radio and stretcher for emergency ambulance service". That year Chief John E. Hanley purchased a black Ford two door sedan with a seat that folded up in the rear and a collapsible stretcher that slid in through the trunk for transporting patients. A red light was mounted on the roof, and a two-way radio installed by Fred Aldrich of Whitinsville. The first communication system was established with the assistance of the State Police. It was time at that Uxbridge was assigned the radio call identification of unit "405". The actual identification assigned by the Federal Communication Commission is KCC 462. As tradition would have it we have to this day a car with the call assignment "405".

In December of 1953 Chief Hanley requested the selectmen place the members of the Department on civil service. To do this the town would have to adopt Chapter 31 section 48 of the Massachusetts General Laws. Members of the force were said to have circulated a petition gaining the required number of signatures to have a ballot question prepared for the upcoming election. On February 10,1954 civil service was accepted with the result of the poll being 1996 in favor 670 against.

Chief Hanley had made a number of changes with the department. Civil Service required that all Police Officers take a qualifying exam. He remodeled the lower town hall where the police station is and modified the jail cells. He instituted the first training program in first aid under the instruction of Howard J Holbbrook. By this time the department had five full-time Officers and eleven reserve Officers. Constables served as reserve Officers. The population in Uxbridge had grown to 7005.

The 1960’s brought changes to the duties of police work prompted by civil unrest. Racial equality, draft riots and "hippie" culture forced public opinion into a tailspin regarding the police officers role in the community. Criminals were developing complex newer crimes and drugs made their fashionable debut into mainstream society. Uxbridge prepared for the inevitable by increasing the manpower. By 1969 Chief Hanley was marked for retirement with John Emerick being chosen as his replacement. This was the dawn of a new era. The chief’s position being defined by civil service required that all candidates take and pass an exam. No chief prior to this had been subject to such regulation. Mandatory attendance at a Police Academy was required for all newly hired Police Officers. A full time Secretary was added. Four more officers were added to the ranks and the number of sergeants increased to two. The town maintained a Special Police force to supplement the full time personnel. Chief Emerick and the Police Association purchased a 1963 GMC panel truck and outfitted with equipment and tools. Helmets and "riot gear" were added to the contents as well as automobile extrication tools.

In the 1970's the Town ambulance which had been under the assignment of the Police Chief was transferred to the Fire Department. New State regulations that attendants be certified Emergency Medical Technicians required development of a new workforce that was unavailable within the Police Department. Concerns about the legalities of maintaining a "Special" Police forced were raised with the outcome being the dismissal of a number of "part timers". First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation became a mandatory annual requirement. The Uxbridge Police Association transformed into a collective bargaining unit, and the department members organized Massachusetts Collation of Police. Additional manpower was attained even during a slow economic growth and high inflation. Fuel conservation and increased highway enforcement of the 55-mph speed limit took president. The Governors Highway Safety Council made available to Uxbridge a "Highway Safety Car". Hand held radar units and speed enforcement occupied a good portion of the department's agenda. Fuel economy and vehicle size brought about changes in manpower assignments. The foot patrol, a long time practice particularly in the North End, was discontinued.

Drug enforcement prevailed through the 1980's. The expansion of the department to accommodate the increased population created a number of "growing pains". The consolidation of Dispatching with the Fire Department brought the function to the Police Station. Three full time Dispatchers were appointed. Two additional Sergeant positions were added. Chief Emerick retired and in 1988, Chief John E. Creighton was appointed his replacement. The organization of the Southern Worcester County Drug task Force created a system of Mutual Aid with the area towns to combat the illegal sale of drugs. Popular opinion, definition and recognition required a proactive position in area's such as domestic violence and drunk driving. A Detectives position was created to handle increased investigations. Again addition patrolmen were hired. The use of "Permanent Intermittent Police Officers" once again allowed the Department to maintain a "part time" force.

The 1990 's became the age of electronics. Improved radio and communication techniques, computers with instant access to criminal history and arrest tracking, changed the general philosophy of policing and have redefined the age. Concepts such as Community Policing and Youth Intervention have continued to maintain Uxbridge on the forefront of proactive law enforcement. The outgrowth of these expansions has caused the Department to expand its operating facilities beyond the capacity of the building. The need for a new Police Station was ever present.

On April 28, 2002, a new facility for the Uxbridge Police Department was dedicated on a parcel of land at 275 Douglas Street. Under Chief Creighton, the Department was certified for Accreditation by the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission.
Chief Creighton retired in 2003 and Sgt. Scott Freitas was sworn in on August 4, 2003

Chief Scott Freitas advocated the dog officers enforcement oversight be brought under the control of the Police Department. This function streamlined the process of enforcing and maintaining animal control issues.The position of Lieutenant was introduced in 2008 with Sgt. Peter Emerick appointed. In August 2012 Chief Freitas retired and Lt. Peter Emerick was appointed Interim Chief.            

On October 23, 2013 for the first time in the history of the Uxbridge Police Department a new chief was appointed from outside the department.  Chief Jeffrey A. Lourie who was Detective Lieutenant for the Town of Auburn, MA was sworn in as Chief of Police for the Town of Uxbridge.  


 
 
Detail Detail
Uxbridge Police Department, 275 Douglas St., Uxbridge, MA 01569
Phone: (508) 278-7755     EMERGENCY PHONE: 911