In 1898 the first Chief of Police in Townsend was Mike O’Brien who lived on Smith Street.
At a town meeting March 1, 1926 the town voted to adopt Section 97 of MGL Chapter 41 which provided that a police department be established under the direction of the Board of Selectmen.
The Board of Selectmen were also charged with appointing a Chief of Police and the other officers that they deemed necessary and to fix the salary of the Chief at $25.00 annually and in addition any other compensation that he may receive in the performance of his duties as Police Chief.
Harry Feltch from Depot St. was appointed Chief of Police and also served as Fire Chief, he was replaced by Howard Morse in 1932 that served as the first full time chief in Townsend.
The next Chief was Arthur Bliss (a retired Chief from Needham) followed by Bud Carlton in 1946 and,Wilfred Hamel in 1947. Chief Hamel whom purchased the first police cruiser, which also doubled as an ambulance, in 1947. Donald Morse followed in 1948 and Howard Doran in 1956, who retired at theage of 65 in 1959. Donald Morse again was chief in 1960. Erving Marshall, Sr. became the chief in 1973, followed by William E. May in 1980, who served as chief until 2002.
The current Chief of Police is Erving Marshall, Jr.
Prior to the police department being established, Constables were responsible for police services and the enforcement of laws in Townsend. There were 3 Constables appointed and each served a section of town. At that time they were ordinary citizens who had an interest and no formal training in policing. Constables now are still appointed today but serve different functions in the community.
During the 1940’s and early 50’s the police department was located over the center fire station, then was relocated to a small building behind Duncan Matthews Books. The department was then moved to the Town Hall. In 1989 moved to it’s current location at 70 Brookline Street on Route 13. In the 40’s and early 50’s there was minimal radio communications. A telephone operator receiving an emergency call at the brick building on the corner of Rt. 119 and Rt. 13 would turn on a red
light that was located on top of a pole at the intersection indicating to the officer on patrol that they had a call. The officer on patrol would then return to the police station and call the operator to see what the call was. In the 50’s a direct phone line was installed into the Groton Police Department, Groton handled emergency calls coming into Townsend. This became known as the 3-ring system.
Dispatchers, in Groton, would wait 3 rings to see if anyone in Townsend would receive the call. Radio communications later improved so there was 2-way communications established between the Groton and Townsend police cruisers.
The Townsend Police Department also handled all ambulance calls at this time. In the early 70’s modernization of patient care became the focal point and the ambulance personnel began training as EMT’s and the ambulance was not just used as delivery service. In 1980 the Townsend Police Ambulance Association was established which was eventually turned over to the Town of Townsend and became the Townsend Municipal Ambulance Service.
In 1971 the Police Dept. had grown to five full time officers, which included the Chief, a sergeant and three full-time officers. The total budget then was $65,476.55. The department was still relying heavily on its reserve force at that time. Reserve officers would work the open shifts and fill in where full-time personnel were not scheduled. The Townsend Police Department showed majo growth during the late 70’s and early 80’as the town’s population almost doubled during that time period. In 1977 the population of Townsend was approximately 6,000 residents. Timberlee
Park was still in the development stages. The police department then consisted of the chief, one sergeant, six patrolmen, and a full time clerk. The full time force was complimented by a reserve force of fifteen or sixteen officers and the department budget had grown to $135,000.
The 40' and 50's
The 6o's and 70's
The 80's and 90's
Townsend Police Department
70 Brookline Road Townsend MA 01469
Emergency Dial 911 - Business 978-597-6214
Integrity - Honor - Duty - Service - for over 100 years
OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE TOWNSEND POLICE DEPARTMENT WEBMASTER@TOWNSENDPD.ORG