The Borough of Conshohocken Police Department was officially formed in March of 1873 when Borough Council appointed Jack Harrold as the Borough’s first full time police officer, John Field and
Joseph Griffith were also hired as part time officers. Officer Harrold was paid a salary of forty dollars per month, and Field and Griffith were paid twenty five dollars per month. Previous to
this time the Borough employed two residents part time to provide police services, and in 1871 George McGonigle was hired as a constable until 1873. John Stemple also held the constable position
wearing civilian clothing and displaying a badge on his jacket. Too often, the two part time officers were not taken seriously, and they were always outnumbered on Saturday nights forcing the hiring
of a full time officer.
While on duty one night during his first year at two o’clock in the morning Officer Harrold was standing in front of the First National Bank of Conshohocken at the intersection of Fayette and Hector streets. While posted an unidentified man fired three shots at Officer Harrold, one of the bullets grazing his shoulder. Officer Harrold chased the man south on Fayette Street past the canal and lost sight of him on the railroad tracks.
Part of Harrold’s duties included lighting and extinguishing the gas street lamps in the borough. A single room jail cell was set up along the Pennsylvania Railroad, and when Officer Harrold would
have more than one man in the cell, especially on a Saturday night, the men would continue their fight or start a new one with a fellow inmate. Officer Harrold was often forced to let one prisoner go
to prevent a jail cell fight. Officer Harrold served the Borough as a patrolman for four years until 1877.
In 1875 the Borough recognized the need for a proper police lockup with at least two jail cells, and later two more cells were added. The Borough purchased a lot of ground next to the Washington Fire House on the corner of West Hector and Forrest Streets for the site of a new police station.
In 1876 Henry Stemple, was appointed as a full time police officer, Stemple served as a patrolman for seven years before he resigned due to health issues. By 1889, the force began to grow, and patrolmen were appointed for terms of one year by members of council. In 1889, Michael Mccaul was appointed as captain, William Morris was the patrolman for the first ward, Andrew McFeeters was the Patrolman of the Second Ward and Michael J. Obrien patrolled the Third Ward. By 1895, the borough police budget had swelled to $2,500 per year.
In 1897, William Heald was hired to serve with John Maconachy and John Greer. Heald would later become the borough’s second Chief of Police. In 1902, James Courduff was assigned to the force to serve with officers Daniel Hastings, Charles Holland, and Herald. James Courduff became the borough’s first Chief of Police.
In 1907, members of the borough council met to discuss a pay raise for the police department. Members of the police force were seeking a ten dollar a month raise, looking to bump their monthly
salary to seventy dollars for a sixty hour work week. Salaries for members of the police force continued to grow, and by 1924 Conshohocken’s newly appointed Chief of Police William Heald received
$125 per month for overseeing a four man department that included Daniel Donovan and Officer Harrrington. Patrolmen at the time were paid $100 per month for a six day work week.
After more than thirty-two years as a Conshohocken Police Officer, Chief William Heald died of a heart attack in 1928 and was replaced by longtime police officer Daniel Donovan. Donovan held the chief’s position until his death in 1934. Following Donovan’s death, one of Conshohocken’s most colorful residents was appointed Police Chief. Francis “Bunny” Blake, who was born in 1900, was sworn in as a police officer in July 1929. Although he only served four years as chief, he went on to serve more than twenty years as a police officer. Bunny was also a professional boxer, fighting more than 143 professional fights, including a fight with champion Tommy Loughran.
Walter Phipps Sr. became the borough’s fifth Chief of Police in 1938 and served as an Officer for more than thirty years before retiring in 1959. Some of the other officers from late 1920’s and 1930’s included Mike Bosco, Frank Jacquot, Samuel Himes, Henry Williams, Frank Stalone, Harry Snear, William P. Donovan, and Ezekiel Kirkpatrick to name a few.
In 1937 the borough purchased a Chevrolet Master Coach at a cost of $208.50 for use as a patrol car. The old patrol car was used as a trade in. in 1944 the 1937 patrol car was damaged in an accident when it was rear-ended by a fire truck on the way back from a field fire. The police department was without a vehicle for two months. Fortunately, three of the borough’s Police Officer’s has their own transportation, but the other three officers were left to patrol on foot.
In the 1960’s Police Chief Charles Marwood was granted a raise giving him $6,000 a year. Other officers in the 1960 have included Ray Alexander, Francis Blake, Matt Dougherty, John Boccella, and
Harrison M. Langla who were making $5,000 per year. In 1961 Sergeant Francis Blake retired after serving more than thirty-two years as a Police Officer, and in 1962 William “Pat” Donovan retired
after serving more than twenty-five years with the department.
By 1964, the town council had grown out of the borough offices located on the corner of Hector and Forrest Streets. The combined borough hall and police station purchased in 1875 was antiquated with the four small cells. In 1875, the police force had consisted of one full time Officer and two part time Officers, including Samuel Cardamone, Adam Pagliaro, George Bland, Robert Watson, Frank Charlesworth, Carmen Canale, and Jesse Zadroga. These officers were the bennifactors of the new police station purchased by the borough located on the corner of Eighth Avenue and Forrest Street. One side note about the new police station was that the old jail cells were removed from the Forrest Street station and Incorporated into the new station, and were in use until a major building renovation in 2001. In 1987, the police department had received a new contract with Officer’s earning $19,861.97 and Sergeants $27,586. Police Officer’s of the 1980’s included Frank Charlesworth, Paul Price, John Ellam, George Metz, Ed Williamson, Ron Kilbride, Francis Ruggiero, Tony Santoro, Michael Orler, James Dougherty, and Jimmy John Carbo.
From 2000-2001 the police station underwent a major building renovation, temporary headquarters were set up at the unoccupied Saint Mary’s church school at 75 Maple Street. The renovation were
completed with an emphasis on returning the building to its original condition including extensive wood working restorations and demolition of additions added in the 1960’s.
There have been at least eleven Conshohocken Police Chief’s in the nearly 140-year history of the department. Pictures of the past Chiefs can be found in the Police Station lobby.
In 1895, the annual police budget was $2,500; in 2012 the department has twelve full time Patrol Officers, four Patrol Sergeants, two Detectives, one Traffic Safety Officer, a Part time Officer, and a Chief of Police, with an annual budget of $2.3 million dollars.
The Police Department would like to thanks resident, local historian, and former councilman Jack Coll for researching and recording the department’s rich history. More information on the Police Department can be found in Coll’s book: “Remembering Conshohocken & West Conshohocken”.
|James Courduff||Borough’s first Chief of Police|
|Henry Hollands||Chief in 1886 & 1887, sometime before and after|
|William Heald||Chief, 1924-1928|
|Daniel Donovan||Chief, 1928-1934|
|Francis Blake||Chief, 1934-1938|
|Walter Phipps Sr.||Chief, 1938-1958|
|Charles Marwood||Chief, 1959-1964|
|Raymond Alexander||Chief, 1964-1977|
|Adam Pagliaro||Chief, 1977-1993|
|James Dougherty||Chief, 1994-2009|
|Michael Orler||Chief, 2009-Current|