Department History

Pride in Blue: a History of the Milton Police Department

Our history is broken into chapters. The chapters are broken up by each Police Chief. Scroll down for history by chapter.

chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4
Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8

history chapter 1

History Chapter 1

On May 7, 1890 Superintendent of Police Maurice Pierce began his official duties. The Town had appropriated the sum of $10,000 to run the Department. Superintendent Pierce moved his newly formed police department into a small office at the "Chemical One" fire station located behind the Town Hall.

Superintendent Pierce received an annual salary of $1000. The night watchmen, were paid $821 a year. The officers were expected to pay for their badges and uniforms. Three months after its inception the Police Department moved from the fire station to the Walter Baker Chocolate Complex. This was a temporary measure while a wooden building located on Wharf Street in Milton Village was being modified for use as a permanent headquarters and lockup for the police department. The police station was occupied and officially opened on September 16, 1890.

In 1905 the department purchased new headquarters at 36 Central Avenue. The site was the former power plant of the Edison Illuminating Lighting Company. Remodeling was necessary in order to provide a functional police station. The department moved into its new headquarters on May 10, 1906 and remained at that location for the next 60 years.

In 1922 the Milton Police Department lost its first Police Officer in the line of duty. Officer Emory Farrington, on foot patrol near the 1700 block of Canton Avenue, was found shot to death on the Metropolitan Parks Access Road. When Officer Farrington failed to report on his hourly ring on the Gamewell call box, a search was initiated. Officer Farrington was found lying face down having been shot at close range from behind. Beside him was a stolen car that had been stripped of its parts. Officer Farrington apparently had come upon car thieves who shot and killed him. The murderer was never found. Every year for fifty years the department sent one fingerprint found at the scene to the FBI but it was never matched to any suspects. Officer Farrington had been on the force 21 years at the time of his death.

Officer Emory Farrington

This chapter was summarized from the book Pride In Blue A History of the Milton Police Department.

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History Chapter 2

History Chapter 2

Prohibition existed from 1919 to 1933. During these years modern crime as we know it came into existence.

In 1923, a Civil Service exam was held for the position of Chief of Police. On June 1, 1923 James R. Travers was appointed to the position. In his first year, three patrolman were added to the department, a new Indian Chief motorcycle was purchased in July and a Ford Touring car was put into service in the Brush Hill Road area. to replace the four-man walking beats. 24-hour a day shifts of walking beats were added to the growing East Milton and Milton Village.

Chief Travers had a new pistol range installed in the second floor loft of the Police Station.

In 1923 the Milton Police made three successful raids for liquor violations on Blue Hill Avenue.

New belts with outside holsters were issued to all officers. Up until then, police officers kept their pistols concealed inside their coats, most often in holsters they kept in their pockets.

In 1931, the East Milton Savings Bank was robbed of $126 by three armed men. The case was solved within two weeks by Chief Travers and Patrolman John Dalton. That year Patrolman Dalton was again awarded the Selectmen's Cup for winning the shooting competition.

Retired Superintendent Maurice Pierce died on October 17, 1931.

Chief James R. Travers retired after having weathered prohibition successfully. 

History Chapter 2

This chapter was summarized from the book Pride In Blue A History of the Milton Police Department.

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History Chapter 3

In 1935, an article was passed by the Town meeting that placed the position of Chief of Police under the complete control and direction of the Department of Civil Service.

Additional one-way radios were installed in four cruising cars and two motorcycles.

In 1936, Detective-Sergeant Haley and Officers Duggan and Dalton arrested the four-man gang who had robbed the Godfrey Coal Company of $600. All four members of the gang were hardened criminals. it was one of the most well-organized gangs ever broken up in the Boston area according to the Milton Record. The Milton Police discovered that the gang had plans for 11 more robberies. The gang had stashed machine guns and dynamite in an arsenal in the South End. Officer Duggan was commended for his work in "fingering" the culprits.

The first records of photographs being taken as part of an investigation appear in 1936.

After 46 years of service to Milton, Chief Timothy McDermott retired in 1936

This chapter was summarized from the book Pride In Blue A History of the Milton Police Department.

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History Chapter 4

History Chapter 4

On January 28, 1937 Deputy Chief John B. Shields was appointed Chief of Police. One of the first things Chief Shields did was to hire a full time mechanic, Thomas J. McGrath, to maintain the fleet.

The Department made successful raids on private homes which were the sites of gambling and illegal lotteries.

In 1938, Paul Edge, Walter Cahill and Joseph Lyons robbed the East Milton Savings Bank of $3091. Within 24 hours, Officer Joseph Duggan, working along with Captain Sheehan of the Boston Police, narrowed down the suspects and, with the help of an anonymous phone call to Chief Shields, closed in on the three bank robbers and an accessory. All four confessed freely to Chief Shields at the Milton Police Headquarters.

1940 brought about the measured speed trap. A car was timed with a stop watch to determine its speed. Speed was the purported caused of 221 accidents that year.

At the recommendation of the police department, the town decided to paint white lines on the streets of Milton.

From 1941 until the end of World War II, the Committee on Public Safety reported that six stations had been set up to train 200 volunteers as auxiliary officers, ambulance drivers and rescue squads.

During 1949 the department investigated 3110 cases. Chief Shields commended the citizens of Milton, who on several occasions, called the station to report crimes they had witnessed. These calls resulted in arrests and convictions.

The Chief welcomed calls from citizens as they were "a great aid in prevention of crime." The chief pointed out that the congestion in the Village and East Milton "would continue until the Town is bypassed by a superhighway."

On September 24, 1954 Chief John B. Shields passed away. He was appointed a special officer in June of 1914 and was Chief of Police for sixteen years.

Deputy Chief Richard F. Chamberlain was placed in charge of the department following Chief Shield's death and remained in this position until a new chief was appointed.

History Chapter 4

This chapter was summarized from the book Pride In Blue A History of the Milton Police Department.

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History Chapter 5

John E. Wearty was promoted from Sergeant to Chief on May 20, 1955. During his administration, a vast number of changes took place.

One of the first changes to be made was the replacement of the 1938 LaSalle ambulance/prisoner wagon. The new vehicle was equipped with a radio that enabled two-way communication. Prior to this, all communication had to be relayed through the station dispatcher.

On of the changes made was in September, 1955 when the department changed its phone number to BL-8-1212. The 1212 was now becoming the common phone number for police departments.

At the start of the winter months, Chief Whearty banned all street sledding citing the increased traffic and danger to children.

By 1956, a patrolman's pay was $78.00 per week. Patrolmen also received 10 sick days per year to accumulative to 45 days. Town meeting members approved paying officers for holidays at time-and--one-half if they were required to work. But, if the holiday fell on their day off, they were not paid for it.

In 1959, police discovered a "bootleg liquor still...the largest uncovered in New England since prohibition." (Boston Globe, 2/20/59). The operation could produce 450 gallons of 190 proof alcohol a day. The still was located in a modern brick barn near the end of Truman Highway in Milton. Federal agents believed the still was run by the syndicate.

The men of the department made 174 arrests in 1960. They responded to 369 ambulance calls, 213 motor vehicle accidents with 142 injuries and three deaths. They investigated 3915 incidents and served 872 writs. Chief Whearty in his report to the Selectmen credited the men's alertness and vigilance for the decline in serious crime.

Chief Whearty had high praise again in 1966 for the combination of alert citizens and diligent police work in the arrest of 14 persons for burglary. The Chief spent $935 for the department's first radar-speed detector. The last of two ambulance/prisoner wagons was purchased for $5665. It had gold leaf lettering and was nicknamed "the blue goose."

Officer Walter M. "Skip" Conway and his K-9 dog "Brutis" attended a twelve week course at Boston Police K-9 Academy. They began town wide patrol in September, 1971.

By 1972 the department had purchased enough portable radios over the years to issue one to each man on patrol thus increasing the communication capabilities and safety of the officer.

In 1974, new Smith & Wesson .38 revolvers with heavy barrels were issued to all officers at no cost to the department when the department traded in its old weapons.

Chief Wharty announced his intention to retire as of July 1, 1977. Chief John E. Whearty completed his career of dedication to the Town of Milton in 1977.

History Chapter 5

History Chapter 5

This chapter was summarized from the book Pride In Blue A History of the Milton Police Department.

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History Chapter 6

Lieutenant and Administrative Assistant Dennis J. Doyle took over as Acting Chief upon Chief Whearty's retirement June of 1977. Several changes took place during the combined administrations.

Over $100,000 in equipment was purchased including 21 cruiser radios on the "Boston Area Police Emergency Radio Network", (BAPERN). An additional 12 portables were purchased to allow each man on duty or on detail the ability to communicate with the station. The cost of the equipment was reduced by a $90,000 grant from the Governor's Safe Streets Act.

In February 1978 Milton's emergency facilities were put to the test during the "Blizzard of 78". The men and women of the department worked around the clock without sleep for days ferrying emergency personnel, medicine and essential supplies throughout the town. They even used personnel on snowmobiles. It took the combined effort of the Police, Fire, Auxiliaries and Civil Defense to get through the eight and ten-foot snow drifts.

Chief Doyle requested a full-time civilian as a crime analyst. Mr. James Sgroi was hired in 1978 and with the aid of two federal grants, set up the department's Crime Analysis Unit. A group of local citizens joined together and donated a computer system to help implement "directed patrols". This allowed Sgroi to direct extra patrols into areas where they were needed by time and day.

At the end of 1979, Acting Chief Dennis J. Doyle retired. The Selectmen gave their highest praise for his 33 years of devoted service. "His innovations and leadership contributed substantially to the high level of professionalism the town has for its police department."

With him went the leadership and philosophy of a man dedicated, to in his own words. "Taking the town back from the bullies and criminals and giving it back to the citizens of Milton.

History Chapter 6

This chapter was summarized from the book Pride In Blue A History of the Milton Police Department.

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History Chapter 7

On February 22, 1980, Lt.. Gerard R. Mattaliano was appointed Chief of Police.

In the first year of his administration, Robert Delaney, Warren Brown, and Robert Galvin were promoted to sergeant and Sergeants John Crowley and Thomas Murphy to Lieutenant. Lt.. Murphy was appointed Head of the Uniformed Branch

K-9 Brutis was replaced with a younger German Shepard. He was donated by the widow of Patrolman Lenny Adleman of the Savannah Georgia Police Department killed just prior to activating his department's K-9 Unit. K-9 Ace was renamed to include his prior master's name, hence, K-9 Ace-Len.

Chief Mattaliano instituted a program of overlapping routes for the patrol force during 1983 and as a result, he reported, "there was a substantial drop in vandalism and burglaries in the Central Avenue - Milton Village business districts."

A new computer CRT and Monitor system was installed in the communications room and provides nearly instant response to queries about stolen cars, wanted persons, etc..

At approximately 12:40 A.M., on Saturday, Feburary 5th, 1983, Patrolman Paul Nolan was shot several times when investigating a suspicious person in a driveway on Central Avenue. His partner Patrolman Charles Paris was shot when he went to his aid. The assailant, a town resident, was arrested by fellow officers after a foot chase when the suspect attempted to break into a neighboring home. He was tried and setenced to a long term at Walpole State Prison. Both Officers eventually recovered from their wounds and returned to full duty.

Tragedy struck the department once more when Metropolitan Police Officer Robert Dana, husband of Milton Police Officer Charlotte Berkowitz-Dana, was killed in the line of duty on Blue Hills Parkway while trying to effect an arrest. Charlotte responded in the Milton Police ambulance unaware that it was her husband that had been shot.

A "Lo-Jack" auto theft detector was donated by the company and installed in one cruiser.

On February 29, 1988, Chief Gerard R. Mattalilano retired after 34 years of service of the Town of Milton.

He rose from the ranks, having been a Detective, Sergeant and Lieutenant before being promoted to Chief. He inherited the department under Proposition 2-1/2 restrictions, civil rights suits and arbitration controversies. he succeeded in keeping the department progressive and was responsible for advancing many innovative changes within the department.

History Chapter 7

This chapter was summarized from the book Pride In Blue A History of the Milton Police Department.

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History Chapter 8

Lieutenant Richard G. Wells, Administrative Assistant, was appointed provisional Chief of Police, March 1, 1988

Sergeant Kevin J. Mearn was promoted to Lieutenant and assigned as administrative Assistant Patrolman Richard G. Wells, Jr., was promoted to Sergeant, September 1, 1988.

During 1989, Chief Richard G. Wells awarded commendations to the officers for excellent work performed on 28 separate incidents. Arrests included: burglaries, armed robberies, assaults, thief's, weapons and stolen cars. Several of these commendations were for arrests made when the officers were off duty.

1990 the year we begin to celebrate our 100th anniversary started with the arrest of two individuals for several armed robberies, illegal possession of a handgun and a stolen car.

Later in January, Officer Paul Lynch and Sergeant Richard G. Wells, Jr. arrested two suspects who had been under surveillance as prime suspects for over 40 motor vehicle break-ins in Milton and Lower Mills..

In April, 1990 Richard G. Wells was officially sworn in as Chief of Police.

Although the Milton Police Department today is larger better equipped, trained and educated than it was 100 years ago, its officers are no less dedicated to the citizens of the Town of Milton than was Superintendent Pierce and his ten "Night watchmen".

The department looks back with pride to its beginning in 1890 and looks forward with hope as it celebrates its 100th anniversary.

History Chapter 8

This chapter was summarized from the book Pride In Blue A History of the Milton Police Department.

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History 1992-2007

Kevin J. Mearn was police chief from 1992 - 2007. During that time, he introduced many forms of technology which has become a critical component to the everyday activities of the police department. Some of the technology he introduced includes; Pamet Software which is used by all officers to create incident reports and allows each officer to add information to each incident. He also introduced Mobilecop Software in combination with mobile laptops in each cruiser to allow officers to do a search based on license, license plate, and name while out on the road.

In addition to the technology he introduced, he also had a conference room designed for the police detectives to work from. This gave them a quiet place to work with plenty of room.

In 2007, Kevin J. Mearn left the police department to become the Milton Town Administrator.

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