'The History of the Connecticut State Police'
By Lauri Voter - Staff Writer
Willington - posted Fri., Nov. 9, 2012
“Calling all cars, calling all cars” is a phrase we now associate with classic police and detective films, but it's rooted more in fact than fiction. These words originated at a time when police headquarters sent messages to police forces via car radios, with the assistance of a radio broadcaster.
This historical snippet, along with many others, was provided to the public during a free presentation, “The History of the Connecticut State Police,” held at the Willington Public Library on Nov. 1. The program was coordinated by Willington Town Historian Joe Froehlich, a retired Connecticut state trooper, in conjunction with his former colleague, retired Sgt. Jerry Longo of the Connecticut State Police (CSP), who conducted the presentation.
“I think it's important for the community in general to know about the history of the state police,” said Froehlich. “It shows the progression. Just like our country has progressed from 1903 to 2012, so has the state police.”
Longo said that law enforcement tasks were historically contained to municipalities until the Temperance movement spurred the inception of the state level CSP. As a result, the Connecticut State Police Department was officially established when Gov. A. Chamberlain signed House Bill No. 247 on May 15, 1903. Its first budget was $13,737. Troopers were paid $3 per day, budgeted $138 for equipment, and did not use handcuffs, badges or handguns. In 1911, the CSP incorporated Indian motorcycles into its inventory.
In 1921, the CSP, under Supt. Hurley, opened an office in Stafford Springs. Officer Chapman was the first officer in the Stafford troop. The office was based in different locations, but eventually became rooted at 3 Buckley Highway – Troop C – before relocating to Tolland. That building is now the Stafford Community Center.
Longo cited several historical facts associated with the CSP. For instance, on July 27, 1927, Charles Lindbergh flew into town and was escorted by state police to a parade in Hartford, following his successful solo flight to France. In 1930, Trooper Lionel Poirier of Troop D stopped Amelia Earhart for speeding. He tried to issue her a ticket, but she talked her way out of it. Instead, Poirier settled for her autograph on a $1 silver certificate. When he still played for the Boston Red Sox, Babe Ruth was issued a ticket by Trooper Pappy Babcock.
Although the CSP did use dogs to assist them, canines were not always officially part of the CSP. That changed in 1934 when officer Walter Foley was designated the first official K-9 handler for the Connecticut State Police. He was trained in Canada by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
If you have ever been pulled over for speeding, your speed may have been clocked by radar. In fact, according to Longo, the first radar-based speeding tickets ever written in the United States were issued by two Connecticut State Police Troopers – Al Kimball and Vernon Gedney – on Feb. 12, 1947.
In 1961, State Trooper Albert Washington became the first African-American to join the Connecticut State Police force.
Longo said that through his research, he found that the first woman on the job was hired in approximately 1917, ostensibly as a clerk, but she was actually a private investigator. “They never acknowledged that she was a state police woman,” said Longo. During World War I, women were hired as matrons, added Longo, and then in the 1940s, two state policewomen with college degrees were hired. “They actually made more money than the troopers did,” said Longo. Their tasks and roles were gender-based.
Longo is currently the president of the Connecticut State Police Alumni Association. He and members of the CSPAA opened the first Connecticut State Police Museum in June 2012. It is located in Meriden. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.