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History

In Massena’s heyday a police force was deemed unnecessary. Before Laws were established, settlers usually solved disputes through fighting, or were locked up in a barred room at the local constable’s home.

If any serious crimes were committed, a constable would usually escort a prisoner to the old Ogdensburg County Jail for imprisonment. During one documented trip, a jug of rum was supplied to quench the thirst of the constable and his prisoner. The men quickly became intoxicated, fell to the ground fighting and returned back to Massena cut up and bruised. The next morning the constable offered to start again and the prisoner agreed to go peacefully if the rum jug was refilled.

The first “House of Detention” was constructed in 1874 on Main Street in back of the first town hall. It contained only two small jail cells. In 1888, William H. Paddock, the village president, (now mayor) appointed someone to work one night “Or more, at his discretion” for $1.00. There is no mention in the village records who this hard working man was, and apparently the money was never paid.

The first official appointment was in 1894 when Edward Stubbs was named constable. The following year, Lucius Fowler and Isreal dodge were named special policemen. Henry King, who succeeded Dodge received the magnificent sum of $1.25 per day.

On two occasions, once in 1905 and again in 1921, the village board eliminated the force when finances were limited in the budget. Benjamin Demo was named chief in 1906, serving until 1927, with the exception of two years when Thomas A. Love was head of the department. Demo was paid $9.00 a week in 1906.

Marshall Roberts and Cecil Tamblin served as chiefs in 1927, and were succeeded by Floyd San Jule, who worked until 1936, when he became St. Lawrence County Sheriff. He was followed by Darwin D. Shatraw and in 1942 Thomas J. O’Neil filled the shoes of his predecessors.

During the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway, in the 1950’s more men were hired to assist with the overflow of traffic and criminals. In 1960 the village had 23 police officers. Chief Thomas J. O’Neil retired in 1967, and was succeeded by Dale D. Wright.

Wright witnessed many changes in rural America while in the Chief’s chair. Social problems and drugs had become more prevalent. He worked with his force to conquer these issues for the next two decades. On June 5th, 1992, after a 37 year career, he hung up his gun holster for retirement. Paul king, an acting provisional chief in 1985 and 1990, was appointed to the position on Sept, 12, 1992.

On Sept. 7, 1993, Timmy J. Currier, replaced King and became the youngest police chief in New York state. In 1998-1999, a major $450,000 renovation project was completed to update the department’s facility. In recent years, a drug K-9 Unit, summer bicycle patrol, civilian emergency dispatchers have been added to the police department.

The Massena PD is always looking for ways to better improve services for the public. With the ideas of today and the technology of tomorrow we will continue to protect and serve the citizens of Massena to the highest standard possible.

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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