In the early days of the 1800's, there were no Police or Marshals. Local merchants and businessmen formed protective associations to protect themselves from thievery. Later in the 1900's, the Law and Order League was formed to offer the next step in protection. A Constable was hired from among the townsmen. A Justice of the Peace would act as a Judge to hear facts of the case and impose a penalty. In 1921, The State Police was formed and offered patrols in the region. The State Police appointed local constables who patrolled Chester.
In 1930, Chester Borough became a town and created a local government. The newly formed Mayor and Council created Ordinance 2, which established the organization and regulation of Police. The first Police Officer hired by the Mayor and Council was Walter Barkman. He was appointed on August 4, 1930 as a part-time patrolman to patrol the town. In September of 1930, the Council voted to provide uniforms to the police. The town did not have a full-time police force, but used the part time police to keep the peace. In 1949, the Council set the salary of the police. They were paid, $100.00 per year plus $1.25 per hour worked. In 1951, the Council voted to purchase two pistols and 3 police badges. Our Police, still part time are becoming more equipped to keep the peace. Radios are not perfected at this time, so officers received notice of calls through the local telephone switchboard operator. The switchboard operator would call the home of a police officer that lives next to the firehouse with his wife. The message is chalked onto a black board for the Officer on duty to ride by and read.
In 1961, ordinance 93 was enacted which is the beginning of the modern form of policing. This ordinance provides for a Police Chief, Police Officers and Special Officers. On June 16, 1960 Joseph B. Feltmann is appointed as the first full time Special Police Officer. On December 20, 1960, Officer Feltmann was appointed as the first Chief of Police of Chester Borough.
Thereafter, the Police Department begins to evolve. Soon, there are fulltime patrolmen hired to extend the departments ability to provide greater service. Modern methods of dispatching the police to calls are being developed. Chester Borough is being dispatched by the Dover Police Department and is part of a regional system of emergency service dispatching. Thereafter, the dispatching went to another agency, Morris County Radio and finally to where the current day dispatching occurs with the regional system through the Washington Township Police Department.
Today our force consists of its fourth Chief of Police, two Sergeants, one Detective and five Patrolmen. Our department is equipped with the tools necessary to provide the best service possible. Each patrol car hosts a laptop computer that is linked to inform the officer of a wanted person or vehicle, a missing person or child and motor vehicle information. The officer can prepare his reports from his vehicle and later convert it to print. The vehicles have emergency equipment such as heart defibrillators and oxygen. The officer is trained to restore the heartbeat of a stricken victim until other aid arrives.
The Chester Township Police Department was instituted in modern form in 1957 with the hiring of Edward M. Strait, who as our first full-time police officer immediately set out to organize a well-trained and regulated association of part-time volunteer officers to assist him in his duties. Patrolman Strait was named the department's first Chief of Police in early 1958 and never looked back. He was joined by additional full-time officers in the mid 1960's, some whose names you may remember, Harold Dilley, Richard N. Darling and Vernice "Skip" Robbins. The Department grew steadily in terms of manpower and expertise under Chief Strait's watch with Wandy Cox, Lou Case, Jeff Smith, Steve Beyer and Craig Young all beginning their careers in the early 1970's. Both Strait and the Department achieved public acclaim as being both efficient and progressive. Special and Reserve Officers served their community with countless hours of volunteer time, sharing the same risks facing the full-timers. One hundred and five officers served with the reserve as members of the Chester Police Association through 1984 when the association was disbanded.