Delaware State Police History
1920's 1930's 1940's 1950's 1960's 1970's 1980's 1990's 2000-2010
Interest in establishing a state police force began in Delaware shortly after the turn of the century. The Every Evening Journal relates that, "in 1906 a movement had been inaugurated looking toward the establishment of a state police force in Delaware to do duty in rural districts." An October 17, 1906, newspaper account of a disturbance in Middletown to which Wilmington City policemen were called cites the need for a state police force to maintain peace within the undeveloped areas of the state.
Little action was taken, however, until the State Highway Commission was formed in 1917. The purpose of the commission was to direct the operation of the highway department toward the construction of suitable roadways. At this time, in Delaware, roads throughout the state were composed of sand and clay. As construction of a paved system got underway and the number of registered vehicles began to increase, the citizenry became concerned about the dangerous situation which was developing. Speeding cars of 35 miles per hour, "roving bands of troublemakers, and bootleggers" intent upon breaking the laws of Prohibition led to a renewed interest in the development of a state police force. In September of 1919, Governor Townsend reported that he had received an abundance of letters from the public which voiced concern that the traffic on the Philadelphia Pike was becoming very dangerous. The Governor felt some action needed to be taken at once. Within four months, the Attorney General had acted upon the Governor’s request and on November 12, 1919, he authorized the establishment of a traffic patrol under the auspices of the highway commission. The precursor of the present Delaware State Police, the State Highway Police, was established on January 1, 1920, with the hiring of Charles J. McGarigle of Wilmington as a traffic officer.
Traffic problems did not abate with the hiring of officer McGarigle, however, and the highway commission requested, in March of 1920, additional funding to place officers on all existing state highways. They were authorized to employ, "not more than four additional traffic policemen for patrolling and enforcing the traffic regulations on the road from Dover to Smyrna and the Philadelphia Pike." Also authorized was a standard uniform for each patrolman. Employment records indicate that the men listed, were the nucleus of the force: Joseph A. McVey hired on April 15, 1920, Raymond D. Ingram hired on May 17, 1920, Earl Cole hired on June 20, 1920, and Harry Ingram was hired September 22, 1920. On October 22, 1920, Harry Ingram resigned and Joseph Bonifacino was hired on November 11, 1920.
To supplement the workload of the small force of paid constabulary, the highway commission authorized the use of a citizens highway police from 1921 to 1923. This force was comprised of a group of unpaid volunteers who served for a period of three months. While on duty they were empowered to enforce the same laws as their paid counterparts.
Details concerning the first uniform of the State Highway Police are almost non-existent. What is known is that it was standardized and consisted of one summer and one winter uniform. The summer consisted of one pair of trousers, one coat, one shirt, one cap, one pair of shoes, and one pair of protective leather leggings called "puttees." The winter uniform consisted of the same garments as the summer, plus the addition of a leather overcoat, leather cap with ears, and a pair of heavy leather gloves.
The first ten months of the new force’s existence were spent without sufficient quarters for the patrol officers who were required to spend all their working hours in the field. In November, 1920, the highway commission noted that the traffic patrolmen on the Philadelphia Pike and the Kennett Pike had no shelter during bad weather so a recommendation was made to establish a police headquarters on each road. While no records exist of the Kennett Pike Headquarters, a time keepers shack was set up on the Philadelphia Pike and serve as the department’s headquarters from 1920 to 1923.
In 1920, the staple means of patrol was the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The State Highway Police owned six of these machines, complete with sidecars, which were described as being in "first rate" condition. As the decade progressed, it was becoming increasingly difficult to patrol the state roadways with any degree of certainty with the present force, so numerous requests were made to expand the department’s complement. In January of 1922, the State Highway Commission received funding which allowed the addition of one officer. This officer, Samuel G. Powell of Milford, was hired on January 21, 1922, and was assigned to patrol the highway between Milford and Selbyville. Later in July of the same year, a second officer, Francis Ryan, was hired.
Tragically, the tenure of employment for Officer Francis Ryan was brief as he was the first state highway officer to die in the line of duty. Officer Ryan was attempting to apprehend a speeding motorist on the Philadelphia Pike on October 17, 1922, when his motorcycle was struck by a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction. He succumbed to injuries sustained in the collision on November 2, 1922. Officer Francis Ryan was buried in Glebe Cemetery, Old New Castle, Delaware. We sometimes forget that these were lonely and dangerous times for the police as they attempted to forge a place in the history of law enforcement and protect the citizens of Delaware. The following excerpt from a 1922 newspaper article succinctly describes the adverse working conditions that these men faced in the performance of their duties:
"Night and day, in fair and foul weather, the State Highway Police are endeavoring to keep the state highways safe for the traveling public. You may meet one of these uniformed officers on his gray motorcycle anywhere between the Pennsylvania line and the Maryland line at Delmar . . . Driving from a narrow, crooked, rough road originally intended for horse-drawn traffic only, on to one of the new state highways, broad, smooth, and straight you (may) feel an irresistible impulse to let her out and see what your pet motor can do. . . It is very likely you will meet the highway police for they are there to protect you not only from yourself, but from the other fellow even more reckless. To properly police the two hundred miles of the state highway system now completed is a big task for Lieutenant McVey and his three assistants and means long hours of hard riding for the little force, but it is done faithfully and cheerfully and with an efficiency and courtesy that has won the respect and praise of all motorists who know them."
As the year 1922 ended, the highway traffic force, through hiring, resignation, and death remained at four officers and one supervisor. One officer was detailed on the Philadelphia Pike and another on the Kennett Pike, the two great arteries entering Wilmington. The two remaining officers were divided over a stretch of territory embracing one hundred miles. At the suggestion of Chief Engineer Douglas Buck, of the State Highway Department, the stage was being set to formally organize and enlarge the highway police as a state police agency. He suggested, at the end of 1922, that legislation be enacted providing the state with a constabulary organized in a similar manner as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland.
Governor Denney stated in January, 1923, "in my judgment the police force of the highway department is not adequate. I urge that a state police force be organized in connection with the highway police. There has been a demand for some years for a statewide police force . . . I believe a plan could be worked out that would gradually increase the present force . . In a short time we would have a force that would assist greatly in enforcing all the laws of the state." A bill was thus formulated in February 1923, which was destined to pass both the State House and Senate.
On April 28, 1923, the General Assembly enacted two laws which had been recommended. The date marks the official organization of the Delaware State Police we know today. The first law provided Delaware with a State Highway Police force with full constabulary powers; the second provided the fines paid by violators to be turned over to the State Treasurer for the use of the State Highway Department. Thus the state police, by law, became a subdivision under the State Highway Department in June of 1923.
During the same month, Captain August Ahlquist of the Pennsylvania State Police was brought to Delaware to reorganize and train members of the State Highway Police. In conjunction with Mr. Buck, Captain Ahlquist went over the plans for reorganization, establishing a school of instruction, and accepting applications to secure more members for the department and purchase additional motorcycles. On June 11, 1923, the original State Highway Police recruit class was hired. It consisted of 9 men who were trained at Legislative Hall (the Old State House and annex) in Dover. The training school consisted of a variety of courses including criminal laws and procedures, motor laws, firearms training, traffic regulations, and motorcycle instruction.
August Ahlquist remained with the Delaware State Highway Police as acting Superintendent from April 23 to August 31, 1923, when he was recalled to the Pennsylvania State Police. At this time, the highway department authorized the Chief Engineer to hire a "Delawarean" for the position of captain. The force, at this time, consisted of thirteen men. Nine were from the recruit class and four officers were from the original force: Raymond Ingram, Earl Cole, Samuel Powell, and Joseph Bonafacino. October of 1923, witnessed the first increase in manpower for the neophyte department as four new officers began training in Dover. They were: William Macklin, Norman Voshell, Henry C. Ray, and David Zeigler. Of the four, only Henry Ray, who was destined to become The Delaware Highway Police’s first director of training, would complete 20 years of active service.
The years 1923-1930 saw numerous changes in the complement and organization of the State Highway Police as it began to expand. Of note is the size of the force in 1924 which consisted of:
1 - Superintendent
1 - Lieutenant
4 - Corporals
20 - Privates
2 - Weighmen
2 - Motorcycle Mechanics
1 - Clerk (part time)
The first superintendent of the State Highway Department was C.C. "Dixie" Reynolds who had been the department’s resident engineer in New Castle County. Monthly salaries for the members in 1927, were recorded as follows: captain - $200.00, lieutenant - $180.00, sergeant - $175.00, corporal - $160.00, private - $150.00.
In 1929, the State Highway Police, by Chapter 25 of the Delaware Code, was provided with a 50% pension for disability which was acknowledged as a greatly needed benefit, for prior to this, compensation for injuries occurring on the job were at the discretion of the highway department. Injuries of a debilitating nature were indeed common during the early history of the State Highway Police. Riding day and night in inclement weather, many suffered from the hardships of the dampness and the cold. Numerous men left employment with pleurisy and other illnesses. Still others had limbs severely damaged or lost in accidents resulting from the adverse road and weather conditions.
During these early years, 1923 - 1930, the uniform of the State Highway Police changed on three occasions. The 1923 uniform consisted of a dark gray whipcord material, similar to that worn by the Pennsylvania State Police. It had a high military collar with silver "DEL" pins on each side. The officer’s silver badge was worn over the left breast pocket. The service revolver was worn on the right side. Leather "puttee’s" were worn above the shoe to protect the officer’s calf area. A rounded cap with peak and a silver hat badge completed the uniform. In winter, a leather overcoat and trousers were worn as protection from the cold. On May 17, 1925, the uniform was altered slightly by changing the blouse after the fashion of that worn by the New York State Police. They were as the expression of the day noted, "quite nifty." The high military collar was changed to a roll collar. On both uniforms the shoulder insignia or patch was the "flying or winged wheel".
In March, 1929, the highway commission authorized a study concerning new uniforms for the State Highway Police. Sample materials were obtained and later that same year, the State Highway Police adopted a new uniform. This uniform was radically different from its predecessor and consisted of a navy blue blouse, a navy blue wool shirt, khaki breeches with a dark blue stripe and was topped off by a navy blue eight point hat. The men wore their service revolvers on their left side in cross-draw holsters.
The years 1923 to 1929, were indeed the formative years for the State Highway Police. It was during this time that the basic infrastructure of today’s organization was formulated. Initially there were four state police facilities designated as Stations 1, 2, 3, and 4. They were located accordingly with dates of initial occupancy:
The need for an additional facility to patrol the western side of Sussex County was quickly realized and in 1925, the State Highway Police were authorized to build a fifth facility. Station 5 was established temporarily at the Seaford bridge while a permanent structure was built approximately one mile south of Greenwood. It is noted that the original state police facilities designated Stations 4 and 5 still exist, although they are in private hands.
With facilities established throughout the state to accommodate the officers, attention was now turned to manning them. This was accomplished with the institution of a permanent training facility (or at least envisioned at the time) at Dover. An excerpt from the 1924 training school exemplifies the high standards which were instituted:
"… from a group of four score candidates twenty-four were selected. On the first day of training, men had a chance to get out on the road and show how they could direct a motorcycle. Many were nervous due to not knowing how to operate a motorcycle, others by the fact that they were not familiar with the state’s machine. Outdoor work was supplemented by indoor work and lectures. "The first group of men was eliminated by being either physically unfit or through their personalities. This latter word pertains to the record that a man had in his hometown. If not creditable, he was eliminated. The picking of the force was at the highest standards. Mental drills and physical activity are a part of the daily training school details. Men must have knowledge of the motor and traffic laws and the laws and regulations of the state to qualify. They are given classes in arithmetic and geography, which coupled with other studies, gives an indication of their mental caliber. Chiefly those who have an adventurous disposition and meet the mental standards are selected. Most state police candidates like the open and seek the thrills that go with being in the van of anything that is going on. After a due course of examination, ten men were selected to attend the recruit school as candidates for the state police."
The mode of travel during the time period, 1923 to 1930, was the motorcycle. From 1923 to 1928, State Highway Police were assigned the famous "Indian" cycle. A number of these cycles were equipped with a side car which served two purposes. The first was a place to carry either a passenger or the poor miscreant that had the misfortune to encounter the officer. The second was to provide stability and ensure a safer ride. The stalwart "Indian" later gave way once again to the Harley-Davidson. At the 1928 annual inspection, all members of the division were assigned brand new machines as a part of their personal equipment.
In January, 1925, six officers were sent to the New York School for Police. Private Henry Ray graduated at the top of the class. Private Ray was promoted to sergeant and in 1925, became the department’s first director of training. The State Armory in Dover was opened as the first training academy in April of 1925. At this time recruits attended a three week training program.
During the early years of the State Highway Police, much of the time was spent establishing the force as a "first rate" unit. In 1925, Mr. Francis duPont supplied four dogs to the department. Though more as protectors of the stations to which they were assigned, the dogs became the cadre of one of the first canine units in the police forces of America.
During this period, the State Highway Police were without any form of radio communication. Antiquated as it may seem today, officers relied upon a flag system, which was instituted in the summer of 1924. Riding their newly acquired Indian motorcycles these officers relied upon this flag system which had been instituted statewide in an effort to facilitate communications between the motorcycle policeman and the four stations to which they were assigned. Automobile service stations and stores along the main roads in the state were designated flag stations and issued a red flag. A list of the forty-two stations and their phone numbers were published in the Wilmington Evening Journal. Citizens requiring the assistance of the State Highway Police were instructed to call one of the published stations. The proprietor of the station would then display the special flag, alerting the passing highway patrolman. The response time to calls for service using the flag system was typically from zero to forty-eight hours.
As New Castle County encompassed the largest population, and for that matter the greatest population growth, the police facilities quickly became antiquated. For that reason, in the years 1928 and 1929, Station’s 1 and 2 were rebuilt as concrete and brick structures similar in nature. These second facilities included, "a standard steel cell for holding dangerous or violent prisoners." The Chief Engineer for the highway department, Mr. W.W. Mack, also recommended that Station 3 (Dover) be replaced; this was tabled for further discussion.
The twenties came in with a bang and departed with a whimper, under the cloud of "The Great Depression". Caught in the siege of unemployment, gangsters, and elicit booze, the state police began its second decade.
The 1930’s ushered in the Great Depression and a whole new set of concerns for the State Highway Police. As the everyday necessities in life became scarce, the highway police began to undertake additional responsibilities due to the rapid rise of criminal activity in the state. Enforcement of the Laws of Prohibition, thefts of automobiles, and petty thefts, especially thefts of livestock, meat and produce were on the rise. As a result, the motorcycle highway patrolmen found themselves being taken from the highways and engaging in a variety of general police duties. The added responsibilities would prompt the General Assembly to enact legislation in 1931 changing the name of the State Highway Police to the Delaware State Police. This was the inception of the full service state police organization which exists today.
At the direction of Superintendent Reynolds in February, 1930, the state police appointed two officers to concentrate on enforcement of the aeronautic laws of the state. They were to spend one day a month inspecting all planes and pilots in Delaware, and enforcing reckless flying statutes. An example of their enforcement action would be the arrest of a pilot for carrying passengers without a transport license.
Due to an increase in the number of petty thefts occurring in the southern portion of the state and the increasing demand for night service, Station 4 in Georgetown began operating on a 24 hour basis in the latter part of 1930. The "special night patrols" were successful in reducing the number of reported poultry and grain thefts which had been occurring in southern Delaware.
In 1930, the department’s annual report detailed it’s complement as follows:
Wilmington Headquarters Superintendent, Captain, Lieutenant and Clerk
Station 1 Penny Hill 1 Sergeant and 10 Privates
Station 2 State Road 1 Sergeant and 12 Privates
Station 3 Dover 1 Lieutenant, 1 Sergeant and 8 Privates
Station 4 Georgetown 1 Sergeant and 5 Privates
Station 5 Bridgeville 1 Sergeant and 5 Privates
By the mid 30’s, all stations within the State were providing 24 hour service.
As of January 27, 1931, the State Highway Police set the age limit at 21-30 years to apply for employment. On April 22, 1931, the commission changed the age to 21-35 in order to entice more qualified applicants. A two-week training school was later conducted in May, which resulted in the hiring of nine new officers at a salary of $115 per month.
In 1931, the General Assembly passed a bill providing a standard uniform for the state police. The new winter uniform consisted of a, "blouse, navy blue whipcord with olive drab tabs on sleeve; breeches, olive drab with navy blue stripe down each side of the same material as the blouse; cap of the same material as the blouse; black shoes, puttees, overcoat, helmet of black leather, revolver belt and holster of black leather." The summer uniform was "a shirt, navy blue serge, olive drab breeches with blue stripe, cap of navy blue whipcord material, black shoes and puttees, black leather revolver belt and holster."
On March 1, 1932, the highway commission authorized a uniform addition allowing a shoulder patch for the coat sleeve. The emblem was embroidered in blue on a khaki field. The design consisted of a blue hen and three chicks, representing the State's three counties, enclosed by a diamond, above which were the words, "state police."
During the mid 1930’s no adequate system of radio communications had yet been developed which would allow the motorcycle officers to communicate with their stations. In order to improve the department’s level of service to the public, a new system was adopted which required an officer to report his position by telephone to his station every half-hour. This enabled station commanders to keep in touch with their men and provided a more prompt and efficient response to calls for service.
For the first time a teletype service was established between Station 1 and the City of Wilmington in 1934, providing a means of communications with the Wilmington City Police. This allowed information to be exchanged immediately between the two departments, as well as other police agencies in eight states.
In 1935, the old Sesqui Inn, located on the DuPont Highway north of Dover, was remodeled to provide additional office space for Station 3. A set of 30-ton scales was installed on the property and land located behind the building would be set aside for future use as a firearms range. That same year, additions would be made to Stations 1 and 2 to provide more room for fingerprinting and storage.
In July of 1935, the State Bureau of Identification was established at Station 1, Penny Hill. Sgt. William Knecht became interested in fingerprints as a means of identification and criminal investigation. He attended the Institute of Applied Science Course to learn fingerprint classification, built the tables and other special equipment necessary to take fingerprints, and began training other members of the state police in fingerprinting. By the end of 1935, 322 criminal print cards were on file, along with 265 criminal flyers.
The year 1935 saw a first in the history of the state police, when the highway department purchased a patrol car for each of the five troops, to be used in addition to motorcycle patrol. The patrol cars would prove especially useful during periods of inclement weather, and by the decade’s end, the department’s fleet consisted of 25 patrol cars and 33 motorcycles.
On August 5, 1936, the state police was authorized to purchase police radio-transmitting equipment, which was installed at Station 2, State Road. In December, 1936, patrol cars at State Road, Penny Hill, and Dover were equipped with radio receivers. Although cars could receive transmissions, they still did not have the ability to acknowledge broadcasts or transmit messages to the station.
During the period between 1937 and 1938, two new state police facilities were constructed in Sussex County. The old wood frame buildings which had served as Station’s 4 and 5 were replaced with new brick buildings designed to accommodate the growing force and its fleet of patrol cars and motorcycles.
On April 27, 1937, legislation was signed establishing a State Police Retirement Fund, and a pension board to manage it. This law provided for the retirement of members of the state police after 20 years of service. The pension was to be one half of the member's regular monthly salary, payable at retirement. Legislation was enacted to provide disability pensions to members of the state police who were permanently injured in the performance of their duties, and to provide a pension to the widows and children of active and retired members who die.
In June of 1938, a 150-foot antenna and a 500-watt transmitter were erected at State Road. The former 250-watt transmitter that was installed in 1936, was moved to Station 3 in Dover. Radio receivers were installed in all patrol cars, but men on patrol could still not transmit to their stations.
By mid 1938, four civilian clerks were hired and assigned to various stations to relieve uniformed personnel of paperwork and allow them to spend more time on patrol. In August of 1938, the state police changed their work schedules to three eight-hour shifts per day. Although the new shifts were favorable to the patrol officers, they were still required to work six days a week.
By the end of 1938, the state police had grown to a strength of 85 uniformed members. That same year, the commissioners adopted requirements for state police applicants that called for them to be of a height of 5 feet, 10 inches in stocking feet, between the ages of 25 and 30 years, and weigh a minimum of 160 pounds. The applicants were required to have at least two years of a high school education or its equivalent.
Very few programs were initiated during this period in our history, probably due to the dire economic conditions which existed in the country. On November 9, 1939, Superintendent Fader requested permission from the Commission, in cooperation with the Delaware Safety Council, to give road instructions in the operation of cars to high school students. This was the first safety education program of its kind to be conducted by uniformed officers in the Delaware public school system.
As the decade came to a close, the state police headquarters was moved from the Odd Fellows Building on King Street in Wilmington, to a more central location in the county. The cornerstone of the new headquarters building at State Road was laid on February 27, 1939, and by March the state police had physically moved to their new location. On May 13, 1939, Governor McMullen signed Senate Bill 180 establishing the State Bureau of Identification under the supervision and control of the state police. Later that year, the State Bureau of Identification and the teletype system were moved there as well. The basement of the new building housed a 20-yard pistol range, with six positions and electrically controlled targets. State highway department offices throughout the 1940’s occupied the second floor of the building.
The most significant changes to the department which occurred during the decade of the 1940’s were directly related to America’s involvement in the Second World War. Many uniformed members of the department were drafted into military service during this period, resulting in significant manpower shortages and the closing of two troops. America’s transition from a peacetime to a wartime economy resulted in the decreased production of certain commercial goods as factories geared their efforts toward the production of products for the military. It was not unusual during this period to see cars equipped with wooden bumpers, because of the scarcity of manufactured parts. After the war, as the active members returned from their tours of duty, operations within the department began to return to normal. A number of new programs were added and the in-service training curriculum was expanded in order to update troopers on the latest methods and technological advances in law enforcement. As the department moved into the next decade, it would continue to take on additional responsibilities and firmly establish itself as the premier law enforcement agency in the state. New challenges would present themselves as World War II drew nearer, but the small and dedicated force would continue to provide a level of service which evoked the respect and admiration of the citizens of the First State.
In 1940, the department’s complement consisted of 91 uniform personnel including: one captain, three lieutenants, six sergeants, sixteen corporals and sixty-five privates. That same year, the division purchased nine new Harley-Davidson motorcycles in addition to nine new police cars. Although the motorcycle had been a cost effective and efficient means of patrolling the state’s roadways during the past two decades, the patrol car’s advantages were obvious, and the decades end would gradually phase out the motorcycle for all but ceremonial purposes.
In 1940, the highway department took the first steps toward specialization with the formation of the Criminal Investigation Division at headquarters. In an attempt to address the ever-increasing number of thefts and burglaries, two plainclothes detectives were assigned from each troop to investigate criminal cases and follow them through to conclusion. The Bureau of Identification was incorporated into the Criminal Investigation Division and a new system for filing criminal records was also instituted at headquarters during that same year.
In an effort to curb the increasing number of fatal accidents occurring on the highways, the Bureau of Accident Prevention and Traffic Control was also established during 1940. The bureau was responsible for conducting a thorough investigation and study of all traffic accidents in order to identify their underlying causes, and recommend possible solutions. In an effort to modernize the department’s system of analyzing traffic related statistics, in 1941, the traffic bureau acquired an electric keypunch machine which could quickly sort out accident data, such as the number and type of accidents and their locations.
That same year, the first modern firearms program was developed with the construction of a firearms repair shop at Troop 5. The shop was manned by a sergeant trained in the repair and maintenance of the .38 caliber Colt revolvers in use at the time. Previously, weapons had to be sent back to the manufacturer for routine repairs and maintenance. The new repair shop provided a substantial savings in the cost of firearms repair and reduced the amount of time a weapon was placed out of service.
During the first three months of 1942, the radio system was upgraded for the first time, permitting station to station, car to car, or car to station communication. This system would allow troopers to cover larger patrol territories while significantly improving their response time to calls for assistance. The improved communications system would prove invaluable in the next few years as the department’s resources and manpower were depleted as a result of World War II.
The State Highway Commission in 1942 approved a standard summer uniform. The new uniforms consisted of khaki trousers with a blue serge stripe, khaki poplin shirt, blue cap, black tie, black shoes and black belt and holster without shoulder strap. An optional lightweight field jacket would also be issued. Due to shortages in material resulting from the conversion of garment manufacturers from peacetime to wartime production, the material used in the summer uniform was identical to that issued to the military.
In 1942, the department issued a new set of qualifications for prospective applicants. All applicants were required to have a high school education or its equivalent. They were required to be between 5 feet, 7 inches and 6 feet, 4 inches in height, weigh between 140 and 230 pounds, and their weight must be proportionate to their height. They were required to be between the ages of 25 and 32 and must be a resident of the State of Delaware for at least one year. Applicants were required to be of good moral character, in good health and physical condition, and must be able to operate a motor vehicle in a competent and efficient manner.
After passing mental and physical tests and undergoing a background investigation, an applicant would be required to enter the department for a period of training which would consist of the following: one week assignment to the traffic bureau, one week assignment to criminal investigations, one week assignment to the identification bureau, five weeks training in general police work including an assignment of not less than ten days at a troop in each of the three counties. Upon completing the eight-week training course, a recruit was required to have a satisfactory progress report from a majority of the division and field commanders. Having completed all of these requirements, the recruit applicant was issued a complete set of regulations, oath of office, uniform and equipment. He was then considered an apprentice patrolman and was placed on probation for a period of two years.
In 1943, seven female civilian employees were hired for the first time to assist with clerical duties in order to help ease the manpower shortages resulting from World War II. These female employees proved invaluable to the operation of the department and provided the impetus for the establishment of the full time civilian work force which now exists. During this same period, the highway department requested those members eligible for retirement to remain in active service until the department was brought back to its full complement.
In 1944, a new system of rules and regulations were established by which the superintendent was given the power to reprimand, fine, suspend or dismiss any member of the department who was found guilty of violating certain general orders, special orders or memoranda . The orders covered various aspects of police work, requiring members to perform 18 specific acts which ranged from properly saluting ranking officers and state officials to personal grooming. Another set of rules prohibited the commission of at least 45 specific acts ranging from interfering with the disciplinary process to cowardice and neglect of duty. That same year, the rank of "private" was changed to "trooper" in keeping with terminology used by neighboring state police organizations and the superintendent was given the rank of "colonel" for the first time.
In an attempt to "modernize the image of the department", a new uniform, based on the uniform worn by New York state police, was adopted in 1944. It was designed to conform to the state colors and was described in an article by the Wilmington Journal Every Evening:
" ... the new uniforms of the Delaware State Troopers will be placed in use the latter part of this month ... In order to increase the efficiency of the troopers in the use of firearms, the holster has been changed from the cross draw type - on the left side- to the quick draw type on the right side. The new uniform is brighter hued than the present dark blue and khaki uniform and one of the most marked innovations is the use of the new buff brown trooper type of Stetson. The blouse or coat of the new uniform is of indigo or dark blue, with light or powder blue trim on the lower part of the sleeves and on the shoulders. Breeches are of light blue with gold stripe. Each shoulder of the uniform has " Delaware State Police " in blue letters on a gold diamond. " The new overcoat is knee-length and is worn over the blouse, and like the blouse is of indigo blue with the same blue trim on the sleeves and shoulders. The Sam Browne belt and revolver holster will be worn on the outside of the overcoat. A Sam Browne belt is also used with the blouse. A summer uniform consists of the light blue shirt and indigo breeches with gold stripe. The holster is worn on a belt, without shoulder strap. The state police insignia with gold diamond shaped background is used on the shoulders of the shirt, as it is on the blouse. A dark blue tie completes the outside dress. Later, when they become available, boots will be substituted for the puttees and shoes now being used."
The uniform was later changed again in August of 1947, when acting Superintendent Barnes replaced the Stetson hat with a light blue eight-pointed cap with short brim. The new hat was considered more practical for everyday police work. The Stetson hats were still worn on special occasions.
The State Highway Commission approved a new promotional system in 1945. The rank structure and annual salaries were as follows:
Recruit Trooper……………………. $ 1,860.00 - $2,070.00
Trooper…………………………….. $ 2,359.00
Trooper 1st Class…………………… $ 2,460.00
Detective (2 yr.)…………………… $ 2,580.00
Corporal…………………………… $ 2,580.00
Sergeant …………………………… $ 2,880.00
Lieutenant …………………………. $ 3,180.00
Captain …………………………….. $ 3,540.00
Colonel …………………………….. $ 6,000.00
In December of 1945, a proposal was made to expand the state police two way radio system. A feasibility study was conducted by the State highway Commission, the results of which indicated that with certain improvements a 24-hour statewide two-way radio system including all emergency agencies could be established. In 1945, a standardized system of coding radio messages was developed. This system was a precursor to the "10-code" currently in use.
The decade of the 1940’s also bore witness to two troopers to die in the line of duty. On February 22, 1944, Sergeant Thomas Lamb, Troop 3 Commander at Dover, died of a heart attack while on duty in the station. He was the second member of the state police to die in the performance of his duties. He was a 17-year veteran of the department and was a native of Smyrna, Delaware. Sergeant Lamb was buried at the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Smyrna.
On October 16, 1945, Trooper First Class Paul H. Sherman, a six-year veteran of the force, was killed when his patrol car collided with a B&O Railroad passenger train on Newport Gap Road. Trooper Sherman was pulled from the wreckage by New Castle County Police and transported to Wilmington General Hospital where he died from injuries sustained in the collision. Trooper Sherman was laid to rest at Gracelawn Memorial Park, New Castle, Delaware.
In an attempt to provide standardized training to all law enforcement agencies throughout the state, the first municipal training school was held in Dover, on February 19, 1945. The school was conducted by the Delaware State Police in cooperation with the Wilmington Police Bureau and the FBI. Instructors at the school were trained by the Northwestern University Traffic Institute and the FBI National Academy. Eleven municipal officers graduated from the two week training program which offered courses in criminal and accident investigation, report writing, laws of arrest, courtroom demeanor, defensive tactics and a variety of other subjects designed to enhance the professionalism of municipal police officers throughout Delaware. In 1945, the troop designators were changed from numerical to letter designators.
The Bridgeville and Penny Hill Troops were closed due to manpower shortages brought about by the war, and a single troop serviced the residents of each county. The troop boundaries were also realigned so each troop served only residents within the county in which the troop was located. Men who were formerly assigned to station duty were assigned to patrol duties in an attempt to offset the hardships incurred by the department as a result of the wartime deployment of many of its active members.
After the war, Superintendent Haviland, refused to restore the Penny Hill and Bridgeville barracks to full service despite the continued protestations of local residents and politicians. The ensuing political pressure resulted in the Superintendent’s forced resignation and the reopening of the troops in 1947. The troops then reverted to their former numeric designators and Major Herbert Barnes was named the new acting superintendent.
The Retired Association of Delaware State Police was formed in April of 1946. This was the first time retired members had been provided a forum through which they could maintain regular social contact with other retired and active members of the department. The association is still active today with approximately 280 members who meet on a quarterly basis.
In an attempt to improve the department’s ability to respond to calls for service in emergency conditions and in areas impassable by conventional vehicles, in 1946, a ten-wheel 2 1/2 ton 6x6 GMC truck was purchased from government surplus. Members of the department reconstructed the armored vehicle for use as an Emergency Field Operations Unit and it was equipped with a variety of implements designed for use in emergency situations.
On February 20, 1946, in-service training programs resumed after the war with a 10-week course of instruction held at Legislative Hall in Dover. All members of the division were required to attend one two-week session. Course topics included: investigating the hit and run accident, evidence at the accident scene, traffic reports, pedestrian laws and their enforcement, the traffic officer and his relation with the public, and public speaking.
In 1947, House Bill 219 provided for a manpower increase which expanded the state police to 120 members. The new complement increase would prove necessary to the reopening of the Bridgeville and Penny Hill stations, allowing all state police facilities to once again operate on a 24 hour basis.In 1947, the trend toward increasing specialization continued as special accident squads were formed at each troop. The two man units were assigned white patrol cars equipped with flares and first aid kits. They responded to and investigated all motor vehicle accidents and could perhaps be considered the precursor to the accident reconstruction teams which we have today.The Charting and Drawing Division was created in 1946, with Cpl. John F. Herbert Jr., a former professional artist, appointed as its director. The primary function of this unit was to create cartoon type posters designed to educate and direct the public’s attention to issues of highway safety. The unit also prepared detailed sketches of accident and crime scenes and designed visual aids for the training division.A new sound recording device was purchased for use in the criminal division in 1945. The device recorded sound on film and could be used to record conversations in a room or over the telephone or radio.
In 1948, each member of the department received eight hours instruction in the use of the Intoximeter, a chemical test used to analyze the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of a breath sample. The course was instructed by Dr. Glenn Forrester who developed the device. This was the first scientific test which could be used by troopers in the field to determine the sobriety of drivers.
Later that same year, the Delaware Association of Chiefs of Police leased a 12-acre parcel of land adjoining Little Assowoman Bay on which a youth summer camp was constructed. Major Barnes was named as the chairman and was selected to manage the new camp which would eventually be named in his honor.
The decade came to a close with a complement of 120 men, 12 of whom were assigned to headquarters, 20 at Troop 1, 33 at Troop 2, 19 at Troop 3, and 18 men each at Troops 4 and 5. The growth which the department had experienced during the decade would continue into the 1950’s as the country enjoyed a period of prosperity. New programs would be developed to serve the community and important technological advances would be made which would prove beneficial for years to come.
The 1950’s marked a period of tremendous growth for the state police. Several new facilities were constructed to meet the needs of an expanding department, including the building and dedication of a new headquarters complex in Dover. A new technological weapon would be utilized in the war against crime, and already existing technologies would find new applications in the effort to increase safety on the highways of the First State. The decade would also see its share of tragedy, as four troopers lost their lives while in the performance of their duties.
The decade began with the construction of a new building near the intersection of Routes 40 and 13, at State Road in New Castle. The unique structure served as Troop 2 until February 1958, when the new state police headquarters was opened in Dover. This building, due to its appearance and design, was commonly known as the "Ferry Boat." The troop was built to address the increased traffic resulting from the opening of the Delaware Memorial Bridge in 1951. As this was a temporary troop, operations were later moved to the old headquarters building at State Road located north of Routes 40 and 13.
The state police pistol range was finished in 1950, located on National Guard property just south of New Castle. The range included 16 mobile electric targets. To commemorate the new range, on September 10, 1950, seventeen teams from eastern states participated in a regional competition.
On January 26, 1956, the old headquarters for the engineers who were building the Delaware Memorial Bridge became the new state police academy. This academy was entirely finished with classrooms and two additional rooms containing double-deck bunks which accommodated 24 men. Also in January, it was announced that a new headquarters and troop would be built in the state’s capital at the estimated cost of $410,000.
On May 27, 1957 the Delaware State Police opened its first sub-station, designated Troop 4A, located on Delaware 1, north of Dewey Beach. This substation was initially manned during the summer in order to compensate for the increased traffic and to receive complaints of any criminal activity in the resort areas.
In the Spring of 1958, headquarters personnel were transferred from State Road, New Castle, to the new headquarters building in Dover. In July, 1958, 50 troopers and detectives were moved from the "Ferry Boat" to the old headquarters now known as Troop 2 on State Road.
The 1950's also opened on a tragic note with the death of Corporal Leroy L. LeKites, who was struck and killed by a car while investigating a motor vehicle accident on US 113 north of Selbyville on January 13, 1950. Corporal Lekites was assisting Trooper Ralph Richardson at the scene of a two-vehicle collision on US 113 north of Selbyville when the troopers heard a speeding car approaching. When he stepped into the roadway in an attempt to stop the vehicle, the driver slammed on his brakes, lost control of his car, and struck Corporal Lekites. The driver of the vehicle fled the scene but was apprehended at his home several hours later. Funeral services for Corporal Lekites were held at the Salem Methodist Church in Selbyville on January 17, 1950, and he was subsequently laid to rest at the Roxanna Cemetery in Sussex County.
The year also saw the death of Detective James D. Orvis, 34, who died from a heart attack while attending a course on legal medicine at the Harvard Medical College in Boston. Detective Orvis had just completed the weeklong course and was to return home when he collapsed shortly after leaving the college building on November 17th. Detective Orvis’ body was returned home to Clayton, Delaware and he was laid to rest at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Dover on November 20, 1950.
Tragedy struck the department again on Memorial Day, May 30,1951, with the death of 31 year old Trooper Raymond B. Wilhelm. Trooper Wilhelm died in an auto crash on US Route 40 near Glasgow, in an attempt to avoid striking a dog with his vehicle. He was rushed to Delaware Hospital where he died shortly after the collision.
On August 7, 1955, Trooper William F. Mayer, 28, was killed in a traffic accident on the DuPont Parkway near the Duck Creek Bridge just north of Smyrna. Trooper Mayer had stopped a pickup truck for a traffic violation on the shoulder of the roadway. As he stood by the vehicle conversing with the operator, an approaching tractor-trailer ran off the roadway, striking the pickup and Trooper Mayer, who died as a result of injuries sustained in the collision. During the investigation, it was determined that the driver of the tractor-trailer had fallen asleep and, as a result, he was charged with manslaughter. Trooper Mayer was laid to rest at the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Dover.
Technology provided major advancements in the areas of criminal investigation and traffic enforcement during this decade. Both the polygraph and RADAR have played a vital role in the division’s mission since their inception in the 1950’s. In September of 1951, a polygraph machine was purchased and placed in service one month later. The department sent two troopers to Washington, D.C., to take an eight-week course of instruction for the Keeler Polygraph. Since the early 50’s, the state police have utilized at least two polygraph machines for criminal investigative work. In 1956, a second polygraph was purchased and placed at Troop 3 to alleviate the inconvenience caused by two operators using one machine. Later, in February of 1959, the first recruit applicants were given polygraph tests as a part of the hiring process.
On March 13, 1952, the state police first used RADAR devices specifically designed for traffic enforcement, charging nine people with speeding on the DuPont Parkway. The first set was borrowed from the highway department. The use of this technology was highly controversial; adding to the controversy was the use of unmarked police cruisers for enforcement. The issue became quite volatile when the chairman of the State Highway Commission was stopped for speeding.
Near the end of 1955, the state police announced they would be utilizing three RADAR units around the clock. The new smaller units were no larger than a suitcase and were permanently installed in the trunks of 1955 Ford Interceptors. In the fall of the following year, the state police began using RADAR in all three counties.
Another technological advancement which is still in use today was first introduced on May 15, 1954, when a new seven station statewide teletype system went into operation at state police headquarters on State Road. The installation was performed by Diamond State Telephone Company, enabling two way communication via typed messages.
The middle of the decade witnessed the use of fixed-wing aircraft in the enforcement and prosecution of traffic law violators. On May 30, 1955, the state police made their first "air to ground" traffic arrest when a state police pilot observed a vehicle operating in a reckless manner on Route 13 in Odessa.
Two bills were brought before the legislature which would have a lasting impact on traffic safety in the state. On June 2, 1955, a bill was signed "permitting evidence obtained through use of an Intoximeter to be used in order to determine the state of sobriety of persons brought before the court." On January 5, 1959, Colonel Ferguson appeared before the General Assembly to urge passage of an "implied consent" bill, under which all drivers suspected of drinking while driving would be required to take a sobriety test or waive the right to drive in Delaware.
A landmark United States Supreme Court decision on May 15, 1954, held that segregation of public schools was unconstitutional. Delaware State Police remained sensitive to these issues and at one time were ordered by the State’s Attorney General to investigate threatening phone calls to the Milford Special School Board concerning integration of classes.
Problems of juvenile delinquency and crime were a primary concern during the 1950’s as the FBI statistics reported that rates for crimes by youths were increasing in nearly every category. A particularly disturbing trend was the increase in violent crimes committed by young people. The Delaware State Police was one of the first organizations in the country to recognize the need for a specialized division which would address these problems. On November 22, 1954, at the 4th annual conference of the Delaware Commission on Children and Youth, it was recommended that the state police and Wilmington Police establish a Youth Division. It would be formally implemented in 1957 by Colonel Harry Shew.
In March of 1958, the department announced the expansion of the summer youth camp later to be known as Camp Barnes in Sussex County. Ten new cottages were built to replace the old barracks. The following year, at a meeting of the Delaware Association of Chiefs of Police, Colonel Ferguson proposed that Camp Barnes be opened for deserving Delaware girls and boys.
Several subtle changes to the uniform occurred during the decade and the department adopted a new patch insignia. In June of 1956, after approval by the State Highway Commission, a revision of the uniform was authorized by Colonel Shew. Lightweight blue shirts with open collars and no ties replaced the long sleeved shirt and tie during the summer months. The felt Stetson hat was replaced by a straw Stetson which was blue-gray in color. The gold diamond patch worn on both shoulders of the uniform was replaced by a seven-color patch depicting the state seal which is currently a part of the uniform. The patch was worn on the left shoulder of the new uniform. In January of 1958, nameplates were added to the state police uniform.
On March 8, 1956, thirty-three men graduated from the first post war trained auxiliary state police program. Their uniform consisted of white coveralls and helmets, with nightsticks fastened to their belt. This unit was formed in 1951, but was met with great opposition. Its implementation took five years because of uncertainties by the Highway Commission. The concept of the program was to train civilians in non-emergency tasks, allowing troopers to concentrate on more vital functions during large-scale emergencies.
On December 11, 1957, the State Highway Commission authorized the department to purchase two airplanes. It was suggested the planes be used for traffic control and emergencies, such as aiding lost persons and boats. Prior to this time, the department had rented a single engine Cessna fixed wing aircraft which was manned by troopers on a part-time basis. An August issue of the Wilmington Morning News explained, "The Delaware State Police will take to the air in the fight against crime, improving traffic control, locating stolen property, and giving more rapid transportation to officials." Colonel Ferguson informed the State Highway Commission that a $17,500 single engine plane could be purchased for $11,500, and operated at a cost of .38 cents per air mile.
In March of 1958, Colonel Shew announced that state police vehicles would change from the standard gray hue. In order to address the problems of speeding motorists and a rising fatality rate, the state police would utilize unmarked cars of various colors. Apparently, the marked cars used during the period were easily identified by speeding motorists and were considered detrimental to the department’s traffic enforcement effort.
On September 13, 1958, three highly trained canines were considered to be members of the department. The first canine corps consisted of a Doberman Pinscher, a German Shepherd and a Belgian Sheep Dog. The dogs were trained in obedience, track and search and command attack with the assistance of the canine section of the Dover Air Force Base Security Police. Canine units have continued to be a mainstay of the department’s operations ever since.
The department would be presented with a new set of challenges during the coming decade as the First State dealt with the problems of an ever-increasing population, crime and civil unrest. Delaware would not be spared from the effects of the Vietnam War, racial strife and the increased influx of illegal drugs which would plague the entire nation.
The decade of the 1960’s was a turbulent time in America’s past and a period during which many changes occurred within the department. The assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy and the Reverend Martin Luther King, and the country’s involvement in the Vietnam War all marked a decade of civil unrest and domestic instability. Delaware was not spared from the turmoil as the streets of Wilmington erupted in violence during the riots of the late 60’s. Despite all of this, the department continued to grow and evolve, as it had since the 1920’s. New buildings were constructed, technological advances were made and a host of new programs were unveiled, in the continuing effort to improve the services provided to Delaware’s citizens.
In September of 1960, Mr. Benjamin Shaw, chairman of a highway commission committee assigned to study the current critical needs of the state police, presented recommendations to the highway Commission and the General Assembly. These recommendations included a car-per-man program, more officers, and an additional troop to be built in the Newark area. The reasons for these changes were the increased demands being made upon the department, the alarming increase in crime, and the tremendous population growth in Delaware within the previous five years.
In 1961, Colonel John P. Ferguson presented a seven-point program designed to improve law enforcement by providing police in the state with the resources required to cope with the rapidly increasing population and traffic in Delaware. The program included:
In February of 1961, the size of the force was 180 men and it was reported that, "the average number of uniformed officers on duty at any time anywhere in the state totals less than twenty-five. New Castle County, with two Troops totaling 77 officers, has 1000 miles of roadway and 211,619 residents. Kent County, with one Troop of 25 officers, has 900 miles of roadway and 65,651 residents. Sussex County, with two Troops totaling 75 officers, has 73,195 residents."
The department experienced rapid growth during the decade with the construction of several new facilities and the renovation of some of its older existing buildings. On April 25, 1961, a new Troop 1 building was dedicated at Penny Hill, which had been constructed at a cost of $230,000. The same day marked the completion of work on Troop 4 at Georgetown and Troop 5 at Bridgeville, at a combined cost of $220,000.
In September of 1962, the highway commission recommended the construction of a new state police troop at Price’s Corner, on land which the State Board of Corrections would allocate to the police. Later that year, the creation of Troop 8, the barrack assigned to the Delaware Turnpike, was announced. The new turnpike was scheduled to open in 1964 and its dedication ceremonies were highlighted by a visit from President John F. Kennedy on November 15, 1963, just a week before he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. The interstate roadway was subsequently renamed the John F. Kennedy Memorial Turnpike.
In September, 1963, Colonel Ferguson, who had only eight months left before retiring, stated at a highway Commission meeting that he wanted to spend his remaining time working on detailed recommendations for improving the state police. His primary recommendation was for the establishment of a police-training academy, which would serve all law enforcement agencies in Delaware. He believed that the training received by smaller departments was, at that time, inadequate.
In 1963, the House and Senate approved the expenditure of $95,000 to purchase a 2-story brick building on the Kirkwood highway. The building was to be a substation of Troop 2, and was given the designation "Troop 2A". It was initially manned by 20 troopers under the supervision of a sergeant. Plans for a state police-training academy were approved late in the year 1963, with an estimated cost of $400,000. Construction on the building was not started until 1968.
In 1964, Troop 2A opened at 3808 Kirkwood Highway, the state’s busiest road at the time, with one sergeant, three corporals and twelve troopers. Later that same year, the new troop received eleven more men, to bring its complement up to 27 officers. In January, 1966, Troop 2A was designated as the 6th fully operational troop in the state. It was not officially renamed Troop 6 until 1969.
The twin span of the Delaware Memorial Bridge opened in September, 1968, with troopers providing protection for Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Also in September, construction started on the new Delaware State Police training academy next to the state police headquarters in Dover. The new building finally opened in March of 1970. Plans for a large class of recruits got underway that same year, with the authorized strength of the department at four hundred.
On October 10, 1968, the state police set up a new patrol division at the Turnpike Administration Building near the Maryland state line. Troop 8 was responsible for patrolling all of I-95 and the soon-to-be-opened I-495. In 1969, the troop numbering system was re-established, with Troop 2A renamed as Troop 6, Troop 4A renamed Troop 7, and the Turnpike Troop given the designator of Troop 8.
Advances in technology during the 1960’s reflected the commitment to establishing improved communications between the Delaware State Police and its neighboring agencies in the law enforcement community. New technology in communications in the form of a 100-word-per-minute teletypewriter resulted in a considerable speed-up of the exchange of police information along the east coast.
In 1966, transistorized radios replaced the old radios in police cars, resulting in better performance and less maintenance. Other improvements were made in the field of interstate communications when the automatic high-speed teletype system was expanded to include 46 of the 50 states. At that time the system still used the punched ticker tapes.
In 1968, Delaware State Police started using teletype keyboards with monitors to run computer checks on vehicles and drivers’ licenses, and were also tied into a national crime information network. The central database for in-state motor vehicle and license information was the responsibility of the State Highway Department. The old system required communications personnel to manually look-up the records. A short time later, the state police linked their computer terminals to the National Crime Information Center, in Washington, D.C., which was a computerized index of all wanted persons and property sought by participating police agencies in the country.
The use of aircraft to enforce traffic laws continued in the 1960’s as an airplane was used to clock speeding violators. This required a pilot and copilot who used a stopwatch calibrated to one-tenth of a second. The aircraft would fly over a marked course of a specified distance, usually a quarter mile, and clock the violator through the course. The co-pilot would then transfer the stopwatch reading to a device on which three dials were displayed. The first circular dial contained the time, a second wheel displayed the distance, and a third wheel gave the speed of the vehicle, which the trooper in the plane simultaneously entered onto a log sheet, and announced by radio to another trooper on the shoulder of the highway a short distance beyond the last painted course marker.
The use of unmarked patrol cars continued to be a source of debate between the department’s executive staff and certain members of the legislature. It was the position of the division at that time that the use of unmarked cars tended to reduce unsafe driving, while at the same time, provided substantial savings to the state police. The unmarked cars did not require special lights, paint jobs and decals, and they held a much higher resale value once they were replaced. Most state police patrol cars were unmarked during this period. The few marked cars in use by troopers were for special emergency purposes only.
In July of 1961, with promotions and transfers, every patrol troop had an assigned canine team for the first time. The teams had proven effective in crowd control situations, building searches and in the detection of prowlers. The dogs had already been utilized to track and arrest criminal suspects.
The Delaware State Fair, held in Harrington starting July 22, of 1961, was the scene for the unveiling of the new Delaware State Police Field Education Unit, a forty foot trailer which had been previously used as a temporary barrack while the Penny Hill and Bridgeville Troops were undergoing renovations. It was equipped with exhibits on radar, fingerprinting, evidence, scuba-diving equipment, weapons and the Intoximeter, as well as pictures and displays of other activities of the state police. The trailer was open to the public for tours and, after its debut, was taken to schools and civic group meetings throughout the state.
The Delaware State News reported in late November that the state police had obtained a giant speedometer and had mounted it atop one of its patrol cars. The display served two purposes: it allowed motorists following the cruiser to check the accuracy of their own speedometers, and it also assisted motorists in determining a safe speed during inclement weather. The display was eighteen inches in diameter and was illuminated at night. The patrol car was first utilized in New Castle County, then eventually saw patrol duty in Kent and Sussex Counties.
The issue of unmarked cars was again addressed by the Delaware Safety Council
in June of 1962. At the time, there were eighty-six unmarked cars and only six marked cars in the patrol fleet. While the low traffic fatality rate in 1961, was attributed to the use of unmarked cars, a 118% increase in fatalities in the first six months of 1962, prompted the Delaware Safety Council to suggest additional measures to supplement the use of marked patrol cars in an effort to reduce highway deaths:
All of these programs were designed to develop a reputation for Delaware as a "tough state", and to discourage out of state violators, who had been responsible for a large number of the fatalities. In addition to the programs recommended by the Delaware Safety Council, the department purchased additional RADAR equipment which would be in use 24 hours a day.
Several benchmark rulings relating to the enforcement of speeding laws by teams of officers were made during the decade. The use by state police of airplanes to spot speeding motorists was upheld in a Sussex County Court of Common Pleas case on October 10, 1962. The ruling held that radio communications between troopers in different vehicles did not constitute hearsay.
In September, 1967, the Superior Court in Wilmington ruled that a RADAR reading relayed from one officer to another could be the basis for a legal speeding arrest, so long as the citing officer could see the violator at the time the speed was being measured. In March of the following year, the legislature passed a bill giving police the authority to make speed arrests without warrants based on the reports of another officer operating a RADAR set or monitoring speed from an aircraft.
Legislation passed in April, 1969, established the "implied consent" law, whereby any driver of a motor vehicle suspected of driving under the influence is deemed to have given his consent to submit to a blood-alcohol test. Another law passed at the same time lowered the level of alcohol necessary to be considered under the influence from .15 to .10 percent.
The decade of the 1960’s witnessed the establishment of the Central Records division and Central Communications Center at Headquarters in Dover. During this same period the Youth Division was separated from the Safety Education Division.
For the first time in 1963, black children were in attendance when Camp Barnes started its summer youth program. In September, Camp Barnes opened its doors to mentally challenged youths from the Stockley facility. Sixty to eighty youngsters participated in the program.
During the decade, members of the department would receive two pay raises and a substantial increase in its complement. In March, 1961, a new pay scale approved by the State Highway Commission meant an 11% increase in starting pay for troopers, from $3960 to $4400. Pay increases for other ranks ranged from 5.4 to 7.5%, while the salary of the superintendent increased 20%, to $12,000.
Governor Carvel signed House Bill 27 into law on December 12, 1961, which authorized the strength of the state police to be increased from 180 to 250 men. Forty new troopers were to be assigned to New Castle County. The bill had been passed by both the House and Senate earlier, but funding was not available until the state gas tax was increased by a penny per gallon. In July, 1968, a bill introduced in the House authorized the state police to have a maximum strength of 400. It was signed into law in August of 1968 and in February, of 1969, the starting salary for a trooper was raised to $5,900. Effective July 1, troopers received a $900 pay increase and the annual salary for a trooper was $6800.
By the decade’s end, the actual strength of the organization stood at 308, while the number of officers authorized by the General Assembly was 400. Starting pay was still at $6800 per year. It was suggested that an incentive program be implemented to try to encourage officers to stay beyond their retirement date, by offering an increase in the pension for each year the officer stayed beyond his 20 year retirement date.
Several advances in training occurred during the decade with the establishment of the new training facility at the headquarters complex in Dover. Training classes for new recruits and a member of the state police canine corps began January 15, 1962, at the indoor firing range of the Headquarters building in Dover, which had been remodeled for use as a classroom. The move to Dover for recruit training was necessitated because the training academy at the Delaware Memorial Bridge was demolished for construction of the second bridge span. The recruits commuted five days a week to the classes.
Requirements for applicants for the position of trooper during the latter part of the decade were: "Applicants must be at least 5 feet, 10 inches in height, 160 pounds, in good physical condition, a high school graduate, and of good moral character." Mental acuity and psychological fitness were tested, then a thorough physical examination and background check were conducted, followed by two oral interviews.
Three troopers died during the decade, including the first Delaware State Trooper to be murdered while in the performance of his duties. On April 19, 1962, at about 3 a.m. Trooper Raymond X. Querey and Trooper First Class Harold B. Rupert attempted to stop a vehicle for traffic violations in the City of Wilmington. The car sped away with city police joining in the pursuit, which continued over the state line into Pennsylvania at speeds of up to 120 miles per hour. The troopers’ car had just crossed into Pennsylvania on Philadelphia Pike when Trooper Querey tried to pass the fleeing car. The driver moved to the left, forcing the patrol car across the center line and into the path of a southbound tractor trailer. Trooper Querey tried to avoid the truck, but the rig struck the patrol car broadside. Trooper Querey received serious injuries; Trooper First Class Rupert was killed instantly. The driver being pursued escaped, but returned to Delaware and turned himself in after learning of the fatal crash on the radio. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter.
On October 17, 1963, 28 year old Trooper Robert A. Paris was on a special burglary detail checking area motels when he approached two suspicious men in the parking lot of the Dutch Village Motel at 3:40 am. As he approached the subjects, he identified himself and a gun fight ensued. During the battle, Trooper Paris was killed by a single shotgun blast. The two men were apprehended the following day after an intensive manhunt, along with a third man who drove their getaway car. The Delaware State Police were assisted with the manhunt by Wilmington Police, New Castle County, New Castle City and Maryland State Police, the FBI, volunteer fire fighters and other civilian volunteers. In January of 1965, Thomas Winsett was sentenced to life in prison for the murder, while his two accomplices, William Weekly and Edward Mayerhofer, received 18 and 16 year sentences, respectively.
On September 20, 1967, Colonel Eugene B. Ellis died from a heart attack while he was on terminal leave just 15 days before his retirement date. Colonel Ellis was stricken in Alexander’s Restaurant in Dover at 11:15 pm where he was participating in a panel discussion on law enforcement at a meeting of the Dover Kiwanis Club. During his tenure, he was named acting motor vehicle commissioner, the only active member of the state police to serve in that capacity. He had recently accepted a position as the Deputy Highway Safety Coordinator for Delaware. Colonel Ellis was buried at the Union Cemetery in Georgetown.
The decade ended in violence and civil unrest as the state police joined with the Delaware National Guard in supplementing the Wilmington Police department after two days marked by rioting, burning and looting in the streets of Wilmington in April of 1968. Troopers and National Guardsmen would continue to provide a presence in the City of Wilmington in an effort to quell the disturbance until January of the following year. Unfortunately, the coming decade would bring increasing trends in crime, drug use and violence. The violence would be felt on a personal level when two young troopers were slain in the performance of their duties.
The division reached several milestones during the decade as a result of technological advances which would improve the existing communications system and link its criminal history database with those of other police agencies in the United States. In an attempt to address the serious problems of crime, drug use and highway deaths which were occurring in the state, a number of new programs and specialized units were created. The Delaware State Police would take steps toward the recruitment and hiring of female and minority applicants in order to fairly represent the population of the First State in its ranks.
During the 1970’s, the division experienced an explosion of growth in a number of areas. One particularly prominent area of change was the construction of new facilities and the renovation of those currently in existence. In April of 1970, ground was broken on the new Troop 6 building located at Price’s Corner near the old New Castle County Workhouse. The building was a modern two level brick construction of approximately 8,000 square feet, and was completed February 5, 1971. In the fall of 1970, Troop 7 in Dewey Beach became fully operational on a year round basis. Renovations were made to convert the former summer home into a fully staffed troop capable of operating on a 24 hour basis throughout the year.
Just three years later in February of 1973, the new Troop 9 was dedicated by Governor Peterson. The building was designed to match the early American architecture of other buildings in the historical town of Odessa. Troop 9 housed 23 patrol units and members of the Auto Theft Unit and was responsible for providing police services in New Castle County from the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal to Smyrna. The cost for construction of the building and garage was $484,527.
In February of 1975, the new Troop 3 building was opened on US 13A between Camden and Woodside. The contemporary brick building was designed to provide troopers with increased working space and privacy. It featured a basement assembly area where troopers could change shifts, draw work assignments and write reports. The first floor contained offices, special equipment rooms, security rooms and six holding cells.
Several manpower reallocations were made during this era in order to increase the efficiency of the division’s operations. In the early part of the 1970’s, the newly established drug unit was moved from its office at Troop 2 to the "Ferry Boat". The New Castle County Communications Center was moved during this same period from its former location at Troop 8 near the turnpike toll plaza to a newly remodeled office at Troop 2 on State Road.
In January of 1976, the detective division temporarily relocated from Troop 2 to Troop 1 for a nine month period due to building renovations. Troopers from Penny Hill were housed at Troop 6, although they still patrolled the Troop 1 territory. When the renovations were completed in January of 1977, the building was devoted entirely to criminal investigative operations. In December, 1976, Delaware State Police Troop 8, which housed criminal and traffic patrols for the southern end of the Delaware turnpike, was closed and its personnel moved back to Troops 6 and 1.
Technological progress also played a key role in the evolution of policing in Delaware during the 1970’s. Advancements were made in virtually all areas from the collection and dissemination of criminal history information to communications and the latest advances in traffic enforcement.
In May of 1970, a new crime reporting system was implemented statewide. This represented the first change in the established methods by which the state police had captured this information since the 1920’s. The new system would reduce the time it took troopers to prepare a report in the field and would eventually evolve into the establishment of a fully automated information system on crimes in Delaware.
In 1971, the division purchased thirty VASCAR units for patrol cars. The units were designed to increase the efficiency of troopers patrolling the highways. The computer calculated the speed of the violator by determining the time it took his vehicle to travel over a known distance. By the year’s end, forty troopers were trained to use the VASCAR units which resulted in 287 arrests. In 1972, the first VASCAR case was successfully tried in Kent County Superior Court, establishing legal acceptance of the technology in the state.
A video tape camera was purchased by the state police for the detection and prosecution of DUI violators. The $23,000 system was funded in part by the Delaware Agency to Reduce Crime and was primarily used during the questioning of a drunken driver in order to provide defense attorneys with strong visual evidence of their client’s impairment. Eventually, six of the nine state police troops were equipped with the video equipment.
Several major advances in the area of radio communications occurred during the decade as new police protection zones became operational in New Castle County with the installation of a new system designed to speed up telephone calls for police service. The heart of the system was a matched pair of switchboards, one at New Castle County Police Headquarters and one at Troop 2 on State Road. Both communications centers were equipped with radio hookups so they could monitor one another’s calls.
On September 23, 1977, the CLUES (Criminal Law Uniform Enforcement System) was used experimentally for several months in Washington, DC. The system was eventually linked to the communications centers in Dover and Georgetown. It provided law enforcement agencies throughout the nation with a central database for criminal history information. For the first time, communications specialists in Delaware were provided with the means of viewing individual criminal histories on a computer screen and disseminating this information to officers in the field.
In 1974, automatic recording equipment was installed in each communications center. The equipment had the capability of recording up to twenty radio and telephone circuits simultaneously and insured the accurate documentation of information concerning calls for police service. In addition, twenty high band radios were installed in patrol vehicles and radio frequencies were changed to allow police to operate on either the low or high band frequency.
During the decade troopers received a substantial pay increase and, for the first time, elected to be represented in contract negotiations by a specific collective bargaining unit. In addition, a major governmental restructuring would take place in order to increase the efficiency of the division and better meet the needs of the citizens.
In January of 1970, Governor Peterson and the State Highway Department asked the General Assembly for an across the board pay increase of 7.5%. The new pay ranges were retroactive to January 1 and provided 7 step increases in pay for each rank.
Trooper…………………………….. $7,310.00 - $10,285.00
Trooper 1st class………………….... $7,950.00 - $10,655.00
Detective/Corporal………………… $8,600.00 - $11,525.00
Sergeant…………………………… $9,245.00 - $12,385.00
Lieutenant…………………………. $9,675 - $12,960
Captain…………………………….. $10,320 - $13,805
Staff Captain………………………. $10,645 - $14,265
Major………………………………..$13,115 - $17,570
The highway department also approved special duty pay for troopers
for jobs which were "police-related, of service to the general public, and approved by the superintendent".
On March 18, 1970, Senate Bill 442 established a Department of Public Safety incorporating the State Police and Motor Vehicle functions of the old State Highway Department with the responsibilities of civil defense and boiler safety. This governmental restructuring placed the Delaware State Police under the auspices of the Director of Public Safety. The bill also established within the department a division of Intergovernmental services which included state communications. On May 19, 1970, retired Brigadier General Fred W. Vetter was appointed the first Director of Public Safety in Delaware by Governor Peterson.
In February of 1973, state police FOP Lodge #6 was selected to represent troopers in negotiations with the Public Safety Department. This was the first time that the members of the state police had elected to be represented by a specific collective bargaining unit.
On April 17, 1973, a new jurisdictional agreement was signed by the Director of Public Safety and the New Castle County Executive. The agreement stated that the Delaware State Police would be responsible for the investigation of criminal offenses which occurred in commercial areas and for traffic related services which occurred on major highways in the county. The New Castle County Police were given primary jurisdiction over crimes and traffic services which occurred in residential areas.
The division lost five of its members during the decade, including the second and third members of the division to be shot and killed in the performance of their duties.
Trooper William C. Keller, a member of the drug control unit, was killed January 22, 1971, in a two vehicle crash at Tybouts Corner on US 13. Trooper Keller was reporting for an assignment in the Dover area when the collision occurred. He was driving south on US 13 in an undercover vehicle when a garbage truck pulled into his path. Trooper Keller was pronounced dead on arrival at Delaware Division in Wilmington.
Troopers Ronald L. Carey and David C. Yarrington were killed in the line of duty while investigating an armed robbery which had occurred at the Tally Ho Motor Lodge on January 5, 1972. The troopers were checking the Concord Motel for the suspects and, upon observing a car with its motor running in the parking lot, proceeded to investigate. The troopers apparently confronted Irving Hogg, a convicted felon from Ohio, and his female accomplice, Marylyn Dobrelinski. While Troopers Carey and Yarrington scuffled with Hogg, Dobrolenski shot both officers. The suspects led police on a 14 hour manhunt which ended when a Maryland Trooper shot and killed Hogg during a high speed chase. Dobrolenski was apprehended in a Maryland bean field following the pursuit. Trooper Carey was pronounced dead on arrival at Delaware Division at 3 am on January 5th. Trooper Yarrington died at the same hospital at 2:20 am on the following morning. On June 27, 1972, Dobrolenski was sentenced to die in Pennsylvania’s electric chair for the slayings of Troopers Carey and Yarrington, but her sentence was later commuted to life in prison by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Trooper George W. Emory was killed in an auto accident while returning home from duty at 11:45 pm on June 2, 1972. Emory was returning home after working the 3 to 11 shift at Troop 3 when his car was struck from behind by a vehicle which was speeding southbound on US Route 13 near Harrington. Trooper Emory was pronounced dead on arrival at Milford Memorial Hospital at 12:01 am. Trooper Emory was buried in the Cemetery at Saint Luke’s Church in Seaford.
Lieutenant William Jearman died at Delaware Division Hospital after a brief illness on May 12, 1979, while preparing to attend an out of state law enforcement course. He was a 15 year veteran of the division who was serving as the Assistant Director of the Traffic Section at the time of his death.
A special state police Memorial Park was constructed as a part of the 50th Anniversary celebration. The landscaped park, which paid tribute to our fallen heroes, was located on the front lawn of the academy building in Dover. On May 8, 1975, a monument to slain troopers was dedicated in the park . The monument contained two bronze plaques. One plaque depicted a trooper’s head while the other listed the names of the troopers who had died in the line of duty.
Several new programs were born as the division continued to move toward specialization in an attempt to address problems which were of growing concern during the period. Many of the special units which were formed during this era are still in existence today in some form; a testament to their effectiveness over the years.
As a direct result of the increasing drug problem within the state, a full time drug unit was established within the Criminal Investigation Division on January 22, 1970. The unit was made up of seven undercover troopers and was responsible for the prevention and detection of drug related offenses. The unit originally worked out of offices at Troop 2 on State Road, but later that year moved into the old Troop 2 building which was known by the nickname, "the Ferry Boat." Within its first nine weeks of operation, the unit was credited with arresting 53 persons on 69 drug related offenses.
In May of 1971, an Auto Theft Unit was established to curtail the activities of car theft and salvage rings which had set up operations within the state. In its first eight months of operation, the Auto Theft Unit checked over 21,000 vehicles and recovered 27 stolen cars and parts with an estimated street value of $54,430.
In 1972, the Central Organized Crime Unit was established under a twelve month grant. The unit was primarily responsible for the gathering and dissemination of intelligence concerning statewide organized criminal activities.
In June of 1974, a statewide unit was formed to target illegal drug distribution and sales in Delaware. The unit was formed in response to a rapid rise in heroin sales and the increased mobility of drug dealers. It was comprised of officers from Wilmington PD, New Castle County PD, and the Delaware State Police. In addition, the cities of Milford, Seaford, Dover and Rehoboth provided one officer each for assignment to the unit.
The inception of the Delaware State Police Evidence Units came about in 1975 with funding from the Delaware Agency to Reduce Crime (DARC). Funding received at this time enabled the division to purchase three mobile crime vans and train six officers in a variety of technical skills relating to the collection and processing of evidence at crime scenes. Initially, each county received one van to be stationed at Troops 2, 3 and 4. The vehicles were available twenty-four hours a day to both state and municipal police agencies.
In November of 1975, a Fraud Check Unit was formed at Troop 6 for the expressed purpose of investigating white collar crime. The new unit was a consolidation of past fraud investigation squads. They investigated a variety of cases including: bank embezzlements, bad checks, forgeries and cases involving the falsification of documents.
Thirty AR-15 semi-automatic rifles and 15 M16’s were purchased to equip anti-sniper teams at each of the nine troops during the decade, and the first Delaware State Police Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team was formed in 1971. The team received training in the use of specialized weapons and was created to respond to incidents requiring a tactical response. In May of 1975, the unit’s name was changed to the Tactical Support Unit and its complement stood at seven members.
The division continued its support of young people in the First State by implementing a number of innovative programs. In 1970, the Delaware State Police Youth Activities Program was formed. Initially, the program consisted of two trooper coached basketball teams playing in the Salvation Army Leagues. In four years, the program grew to eighteen teams playing in three area high school gyms in New Castle County and fostered lasting relationships between the youths involved and their trooper coaches.
In July of 1972, the first annual Trooper Youth Week was held at the Delaware State Police training academy. The program served high school students between the ages of 16 and 18 and represented twenty schools from throughout the state. The youths ate, slept, participated in physical training and attended classes at the academy like actual recruit troopers. Trooper Youth Week still continues today, providing Delaware students with a unique opportunity to experience some of the education and training requirements which must be met in order to pursue a career in law enforcement.
In 1974, the state police reconditioned a 1971 Volkswagen for use in highway and bicycle safety programs designed for younger children throughout the state. The car, named, "Trooper Dan", sported a white paint job complete with chevrons on the front fenders and state seals on the doors. The VW Beetle was topped off with a huge blue campaign hat and had moving "eyes" attached to its windshield wipers. Troopers were able to make Trooper Dan "talk" with children while standing over 100 feet away from the vehicle through use of a portable short wave radio control board.
On February 17, 1970, the United States Department of Transportation awarded a $137,450 grant to the Delaware Highway Safety Coordinator’s Office for the intended purchase of a helicopter and pilot training. This marked the creation of the Delaware State Police Aviation Section which exists today, as five troopers were transferred into the unit for full time duty. The new helicopter would be used for the transport of injured persons from accident scenes and for aerial patrol of the highways. The pilots were trained at an eight week school in Trenton, New Jersey, in November of 1970, and a Bell Jet Ranger Helicopter was ordered from Atlantic Aviation Corporation in Wilmington at a cost of $149,760. The Bell Jet Ranger completed its first mission in February of 1971, when it located and saved three men adrift in the Delaware Bay. In 1974, two more pilots were transferred into the Aviation Section for full time duty. The additional manpower would allow the unit to provide 16 hours of coverage, seven days per week.
During the 1970’s, the first take home car program was instituted on a statewide basis. The 100 marked patrol cars were assigned to corporals and below and were dispersed with consideration to the geographic areas where the troopers lived. This was particularly important to provide maximum police protection to the larger areas of Kent and Sussex County. The program allowed troopers to patrol an additional hour per shift on average since they were considered on duty as soon as they entered their patrol cars.
Issues of highway safety were also prominent during the 1970’s, prompting the emergence of an array of new programs targeting speeders, drunken driving and other violations in an attempt to reduce the ever increasing numbers of highway related fatalities occurring within the state. These programs, in conjunction with the national 55 mile per hour speed limit, were credited with substantially reducing the number of deaths occurring on Delaware highways. In one such program, four special enforcement units were assigned to combat highway traffic accidents through proactive measures. The three man units were equipped with RADAR and VASCAR systems and worked with the Delaware State Police helicopter and airplane in enforcing the state’s speed laws.
In 1973, eight specially marked blue and white cars manned by officers from the state police, New Castle County Police, Wilmington City Police and Dover City Police began a federally funded patrol operation targeting drunken drivers within the state. The Alcohol Safety or ASAP teams patrolled five nights per week from 7 pm to 3 am and made routine checks of drivers who exhibited signs of alcohol impairment.
In response to public complaints concerning violations involving heavy trucks, a three man truck enforcement team was formed in June of 1974, to enforce laws pertaining to trucks for the first time. The team would focus on violations of speed, weight, fuel and tax laws. Unit members were equipped with portable scales which allowed them to weigh trucks on the spot.
Tactical Accident Control (TAC) teams were formed in October of 1975, in an effort to reduce the number of accidents occurring on Delaware roadways. The two six man teams conducted traffic enforcement in areas where high incidents of accidents were occurring. The teams used RADAR for speed enforcement and watched for a variety of other traffic infractions which contributed to the causation of accidents.
Advances in training during the decade included the adoption of two new in-service training programs. In order to improve the working relationship between police officers in Delaware and members of the news media, in January of 1974, over 100 state troopers met with members of the news media at the Delaware State Police training academy for the first Police-Press Relations workshop held in Delaware. The workshop allowed participants to air their concerns and present ideas for improving communication between law enforcement and the news media in Delaware. A seventeen page handbook entitled Public Information Policy was distributed to newsmen attending the workshop. The same handbook was eventually distributed to every state policeman in Delaware.
The same year the Safe Pursuit Emergency and Enforcement Driving program required state police recruits to spend twenty-four hours on the runway of the Sussex County Airport learning to handle a car under a variety of driving conditions. This was the first in service training program involving emergency vehicle operations.
The decade of the 1970’s witnessed many changes in the requirements and qualifications which were expected of prospective applicants. More emphasis would be placed on education and the division would take steps toward the recruitment and selection of female and minority applicants. Beginning in May, 1970, the division required at least six credit hours in the area of behavioral science from an accredited college. The credits were required to be obtained within a two year period from the officer’s date of hire.
At the end of July, 1970, the first mandatory eight week training course for municipal recruits was conducted at the state police training academy. On February 14, 1972, classes started at the training academy for a combined class of 64 state, county and municipal recruits. Included in this class were five black recruit troopers. This was the first class in the academy which combined municipal and state police recruits. For the first ten weeks of training, all recruits lived and studied together. They wore identical khaki uniforms without departmental designation and shared work assignments on an alternating schedule.
In 1973, women were welcomed to apply for the position of trooper for the first time. They were, however, forced to meet the minimum height standard of 5 feet 9, inches. Qualified female applicants would also have to meet the same physical requirements as their male counterparts. The following year physical tests were modified and a new personnel office was formed. One of its primary purposes was to develop a recruiting program aimed at attracting women and other minorities. In an attempt to make the qualifications fair to female applicants, the old requirements which specified that a recruit must be able to hold a 100 pound weight over their head for ten seconds and perform three chin-ups were omitted. As a result, in 1976 Cynthia Lowden and Georgia Stevens Carter became the first female state troopers to graduate from the Delaware State Police training academy.
The 1980’s proved to be a decade of continued change for the division. Much of the civil unrest of the 1960’s and 1970’s resulted in the need to change the way policing was conducted. Programs emphasizing greater technical expertise and specialized training emerged during the decade. Technological advances occurred, and important changes in personnel issues affecting members’ retirement and pension plans were made. In response to a national increase in violent crime, the division equipped troopers with semi-automatic pistols to enhance officer safety. The division continued to grow and diversify, and received recognition as being the first police department in Delaware to be nationally accredited.
The method of training Delaware State Police recruits realized a significant change in 1980. Along with the twenty five year pension change, new troopers would also participate in the Field Training Officer (FTO) program as part of their academy. Prior to this period, recruits received little to no training in the field, with all of their time spent in the academy. The FTO program reduced the amount of time spent in the classroom, by instituting twelve weeks of training in the field with a senior officer. During the twelve weeks, recruits participate in all aspects of police work while under the supervision of the senior officer. They have full powers of arrest, complete crime and accident reports, write traffic summons's, as well as a variety of other common functions performed by patrol officers. This hands on training has been determined to better prepare the officer to perform their duties upon completion of their academy training.
The decade began with a change in the pension for Delaware Troopers. Prior to 1980, troopers retired upon completing twenty years of service. The pension consisted of 50% of one's base salary at the time of retirement, as well as a cost of living adjustment determined annually based on the rate of inflation. The legislature determined the cost of living provision to be too expensive to maintain and it would be eliminated under the new plan. The pension was changed requiring twenty-five years of service for retirement, with an increase to 62ｽ % of one's base salary upon reaching eligibility. All troopers hired after 1980 are subject to the twenty-five year pension plan.
The division underwent two significant personnel changes during the mid-1980's. The practice of mandatory retirement after the completion of twenty years service was abandoned during this period, which allowed troopers to continue their careers until reaching the age of fifty-five. A program known as "career development" was also initiated at this same time. Under this program, the rank of corporal was divided into four levels.
The first level of corporal is identified by two chevrons, the traditional marking for the rank. The second level, corporal grade 1, is identified by two chevrons and a rocker arm below. Following, is the rank of senior corporal, with a diamond inside the chevrons and rocker arm. The last is master corporal, with a star replacing the diamond. Eligibility for the different ranks of corporal are determined by time in grade and the completion of educational and professional requirements.
The early part of the decade also saw the construction of a new troop and the consolidation of criminal investigations for Sussex County. Construction of the present Troop 7 was completed in 1983, at an approximate cost of $350,000. This building replaced the small brick structure which had formally served as both troop 4 (A) and troop 7 on State Route 1, just north of Dewey Beach. The new Troop 7 building is located on State Route 1, south of Five Points, in the Lewes area. After the opening of the new Troop 7, the criminal investigative function for Sussex County was consolidated at Troop 4 in Georgetown. The uniformed traffic patrols from Troop 4 were ended until the opening of the new Troop 4 facility in the 1990’s.
The Aviation Section of the Delaware State Police underwent significant changes in the areas of programs and equipment during the middle part of the decade. In 1981, a Cessna 182 nicknamed "the bear in the air, " was purchased for use in speed enforcement. In 1985, a Bell Long Ranger II helicopter was acquired. This aircraft was to be used primarily for medevac missions, as well as police support and executive transportation.
The Trooper Medic Program was instituted in 1985. Troopers received extensive medical training, becoming licensed paramedics. The trooper-medics then rode as attendees on medevac helicopters to administer treatment to patients while en route to the hospital. Initially, the medics served primarily Kent and Sussex Counties. The program was eventually expanded to serve all three counties statewide.
The Fatal Accident Investigation and Reconstruction (FAIR) Team evolved throughout the decade. In 1982, a ninety day pilot program was initiated to measure the feasibility of such a specialized unit. The pilot program was extended, with favorable recommendations from the troop commanders and the Attorney General's office, which led to the unit becoming a permanent special unit within the division. By 1985, all three counties had a FAIR unit. The FAIR team responsibilities include investigating fatal motor vehicle accidents, serious personal injury accidents, and providing technical support to patrol officers. The unit members receive specialized training in the collection, documentation, and analysis of evidence from accident scenes. Mathematical formulas and the laws of physics are applied to the evidence to determine the cause of the collision.
The year also saw the formation of the Financial and Organized Crime Asset Seizure Team, known as FORCAST. The mission of the unit is to provide special expertise in complex financial investigations. The drug unit also established a south unit in response to the growing illegal drug problem in southern Delaware during the year. In relation to this effort, a 24-hour toll free hotline was established for citizen use in reporting drug activity.
Due to the proliferation of automatic and semi-automatic weapons on the street, in April of 1988, the division began phasing in a new 9mm Smith & Wesson semi-automatic handgun to replace the Smith & Wesson .357 revolvers used by troopers in the field. The new semi-automatic weapons offered eight major advantages over the revolvers:
The entire division underwent training in the use of the new firearm. This changeover from the .357 revolver marked the first time the Delaware State Police utilized a semi-automatic weapon.
In 1988, new initiatives were undertaken in the area of fingerprint technology. The Delaware State Police obtained the Automatic Fingerprint Identification System, AFIS, at a cost of $2.3 million dollars. The system allows for the comparison of fingerprints by computer, a huge time savings over manual comparison. Prints located at a crime scene with an unknown suspect could be identified quickly by comparison using the AFIS system, thus leading to suspect identification and arrest. In April of 1996, an upgrade to the system was obtained at a cost of $1.7 million dollars. This is the most advanced design available, making the AFIS state of the art.
On January 1, 1989, the enhanced 911 system was implemented. This system automatically provides the location of emergency calls in the event telephone contact is interrupted, thus allowing emergency units to still respond. The Delaware State Police purchased the hardware necessary to implement the Statewide Intelligence Narcotics Network, SINN, in 1989. This system will link the intelligence information of all agencies in the state to be used in criminal investigations.
In March of 1989, the Delaware State Police created a statewide homicide unit. Prior to this initiative, homicides were investigated by the criminal unit at the troop with jurisdiction over the area. With the creation of the unit, all homicides within state police jurisdiction will be investigated by the unit. Also investigated will be all departmental shootings involving divisional personnel. The decade of 1980’s witnessed three tragic accidents that severely injured two troopers and took the life of another. In May of 1984, Corporal Dennis Kelly, 29, and Corporal Thomas Robbins, 38, were operating a divisional helicopter at the Sussex County Municipal Airport in Georgetown. The pilots were conducting take-off and landing training exercises in a 1975 Bell Jet Ranger aircraft. During the exercise, as the aircraft was approximately 20-30 feet off the ground, the helicopter crashed.
Corporal Robbins was able to exit the aircraft after the crash, at which time he assisted the more seriously injured Corporal Kelly from the wreckage. Both pilots were taken to Peninsula General Hospital in Salisbury for medical attention. Corporal Robbins was released a short time later, however Corporal Kelly sustained a broken neck as a result of the crash. Both men eventually retired from the division with disability pensions as a result of their injuries.
On June 17, 1987, Trooper Randall P. Armistead, 25, was involved in a serious vehicle crash on Interstate 95 that took the lives of three people, and left him permanently injured. Trooper Armistead later retired on a disability pension as a result of his injuries.
Trooper Armistead was traveling north on Interstate 95 assisting Delaware County Pennsylvania police officers in a pursuit of three suspects involved in a series of purse snatchings. The suspect vehicle suddenly turned down an exit ramp and entered the interstate traveling in the wrong direction. As Trooper Armistead observed the vehicle traveling in the wrong direction, he positioned his patrol vehicle to shield another car traveling north. The occupant was quoted as saying "He saved our lives, … if he was not where he was, we could have been killed. He pulled up and went right between us."
Trooper Armistead spent many days on life-support, and many months recuperating from a closed head injury, that left him partially paralyzed on his right side. He eventually recovered enough to be released from the hospital, and has undergone years of rehabilitation since the accident.
Corporal David B. Pulling was a six year veteran of the division. On November 18, 1987, he was attending training to become a bomb technician for the division at the training school, which was taught by the FBI, at the Red Stone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. Corporal Pulling was handling an explosive device as part of a training exercise, when it accidentally detonated, causing his death. Corporal Pulling was survived by his parents, a wife and two sons. Corporal Pulling’s brother, Richard Pulling Jr., currently serves as a uniformed member of the division. After his death, an annual benefit softball tournament was held in his honor. Proceeds from the tournament were used to establish a fund for his children’s education.
During 1988, the division received the distinction of receiving "accreditation" for having met the standards of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. This commission consists of members of police agencies throughout the United States and Canada. The accreditation process involves commission members conducting on-site inspections and reviews of all the operational and administrative policies and procedures which exist throughout the division. The Delaware State Police was the first agency to receive such distinction in the state. The cycle is repeated every five years, with the division receiving re-accreditation in 1993.
By the end of the decade, the division grew in size with the signing of House Bill 332, which increased the complement to 500 troopers. This was the first increase in strength since 1968. Community based programs continued to be introduced, with the division continually solidifying its position as a full service agency. In this environment, the division entered the 1990’s preparing itself for the rapid technological and societal changes to come.
Rapid advances in technology, a variety of new and innovative programs and a fundamental change in the philosophy of policing best characterize the evolution of law enforcement which continues into the 1990’s. Simply reacting to calls for service and sorting out the situation once the damage has already been done is no longer sufficient. Troopers of the 90’s are still sworn to do this as they have for the last 75 years, but today they must go one step further. They are expected to examine underlying causes of crime and take preventive action. They are expected to serve as a resource to their community, interacting with its members in order to keep apprised of their concerns and to establish a basis of trust. Today’s troopers realize that they cannot hope to solve the complex problems facing our society alone. It is only through partnerships with our citizens, schools, and community organizations, that we are able to stand up to the immense challenges which face us every day.
The decade began with the construction of a new troop facility, a crime laboratory, and a new police memorial. It will end with the construction of a new state of the art firearms training center, a state police museum and possibly a new Troop 2 facility. Work on the Delaware State Police Crime Lab began in 1990. The building was completed and dedicated on October 2, 1991, at the headquarters complex in Dover. Prior to this period, the Delaware State Police and other law enforcement agencies in Delaware relied on the FBI Forensic Laboratory, in Washington, D.C., for crime scene evidence processing. Due to limited resources, only evidence from the most serious cases could be processed by the FBI. The Delaware State Police Crime Lab provides blood, hair and fiber and handwriting analysis to all law enforcement agencies within the state. The building also houses a photography section and the offices of the state chemist, who conducts blood and breath alcohol analysis.
In 1990, a truck driver from Chattanooga, Tennessee, was traveling northbound on US 13 when his rig veered off the roadway and demolished the south side of Troop 5. Although there were two troopers in the building at the time, no serious injuries occurred as a result of the collision. As a result of severe structural damage to the building, the troop operations had to be moved to the old Troop 4 building north of Georgetown. After repairs were made, operations were moved back to the newly renovated Troop 5 in 1991.
A significant change in the area of labor relations occurred in 1990. The Delaware State Police had been represented by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) for several years. This organization represented a large number of municipal police agencies in Delaware, as well as throughout the entire United States. As a result of the large size of the FOP, a movement evolved favoring an organization that specifically represented Delaware State Police members. A referendum vote was held, with a majority of members favoring the creation of this new organization, which was officially named the Delaware State Troopers Association (DSTA) in March of that year. Since that time, the DSTA has represented its constituents in all collective bargaining issues.
In addition to representing Delaware troopers in labor issues, the DSTA is also involved in many public service activities. Examples include sponsoring sunshine foundation trips for terminally ill children, as well as youth sports programs and Camp Barnes. In 1995, the DSTA completed construction of a hall in Cheswold, which is utilized for Association meetings and other social events.
Construction of a new Troop 4 facility began and was completed in 1990. The new building is located on U.S. Route 113, at the intersection of County Road 431, across from the department of motor vehicles, south of Georgetown. The new facility replaced the old Troop 4 on Route 113, north of Georgetown. Initially, the new building housed only criminal investigations. On July 1,1994, however, uniform patrol troopers were assigned to the new facility. This came about through a partnership with the Sussex County Council whereby the county paid for twelve additional troopers to be assigned at the barracks in a patrol capacity.
The Delaware State Police Aviation Section moved its north unit into a new hanger at the Summit Airport in February of 1997, in Middletown. They had previously been located at the Wilmington Airport, which had been the site of the unit for fourteen years. The new hanger is touted as a state of the art facility, with enough space to house most of the divisional aircraft under one roof.
The Delaware State Police Museum is a project that began with initial planning in 1990. The building is 6200 square feet and includes a conference room and library. A computer system will be on-site that will have the names of Delaware Troopers, past and present, as well as their duty assignments. This information will also be available for civilian employees. The building was completed in the Spring of 1997, with exhibits and displays currently being developed. The building will be completely outfitted and dedicated by April 28, 1998, the 75th Anniversary of the Delaware State Police.
In 1997, a new firearms facility is anticipated to be complete. The new building will house an indoor range, with a targeting system that allows for "shoot/ don't shoot" scenarios. The range will have twenty lanes and include a state of the art bullet recovery system. It will be located north of Smyrna in New Castle County. The current range, which is outdoors on Denny's Road, Dover, will be maintained as a training site for the Special Operations Response Team.
A new Troop 2 facility has been proposed in the area of Route's 40 and 896, in Glasgow, with a possible completion date of 1999. The current Troop 2 was built in 1939, and currently houses only criminal detectives. It is anticipated that the proposed new building will incorporate both uniform officers and detectives. The new building is in the very preliminary stages, with money allocated by the General Assembly for consultant fees to study the project.
In May of 1990, a new Delaware State Police Memorial was dedicated on the front lawn of the Academy. The seven foot tall monument was cut in the shape of the State of Delaware from Barre Vermont Granite, which was selected for its ability to withstand the effects of adverse weather conditions over time. The memorial bears the names of troopers who have given their lives in the performance of their duties. It is a lasting tribute to our fallen comrades and symbolizes the respect and honor we hold for their sacrifice.
Sadly, the decade has already witnessed the addition of four new names to the memorial. Two members of the 59th Delaware State Police training academy class were killed in separate car accidents while responding to emergency calls for service. On March 20 of 1990, Trooper Kevin J. Mallon was killed in an automobile accident on State Route 16 west of Milton. Trooper Mallon was responding to a burglary alarm at 6:44 am and was traveling east on State Route 16 using lights and siren when he approached the rear of a vehicle slowing to make a left turn in front of him. Trooper Mallon veered left in an attempt to avoid colliding with the vehicle and his patrol car ran off the roadway, striking a large tree. He died from injuries sustained in the collision that same day. Trooper Mallon was laid to rest in the Cemetery at St. Thomas The Apostle, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.
Just six months later, on September 11, 1990, Trooper Gerard Dowd, of Troop 5 Bridgeville lost his life in an automobile accident while responding to assist fellow troopers at a reported fight in progress complaint. Trooper Dowd was traveling eastbound on State Route 54 on a foggy night when his patrol car collided with a tractor trailer at the intersection of State Route 54 and Maryland Route 353. Trooper Dowd was buried at the Lady of Lourdes Cemetery in Seaford on September 15, 1990.
Trooper Robert Bell died at the age of 51 on September 7, 1993. On January 14, 1981, Trooper Bell observed another officer wrestling with a suicidal subject threatening to jump from a bridge on the Kirkwood Highway. As Trooper Bell offered assistance, he injured his back during the struggle. Three years later, he underwent surgery for his injured back. The surgery required a blood transfusion. The blood had not been tested for the AIDS virus, which resulted in his contracting the disease. The blood was traced to the original donor, who was later learned to have had the virus.
On April 5th, 1996, Trooper Sandra M. Wagner,28, died from injuries sustained in an accident on State Route 404, west of Bridgeville. She had just completed the field training program the week before and had received her first assignment at Troop 5 Bridgeville. She was killed when she pulled her patrol vehicle into the path of a tractor-trailer, apparently intent on stopping a speeding motorist. Trooper Wagner was transported to Milford Memorial Hospital where she later died from injuries she sustained in the collision. She was laid to rest on April 10, 1996 at All Saints Cemetery in New Castle County. Trooper Wagner was the first female trooper to be killed in the line of duty.
The division has implemented a host of new and innovative programs during the decade. The first of these involves an important segment of the public who had previously been forgotten or ignored. In October of 1990, the Delaware State Police, in conjunction with the State’s Criminal Justice Council, implemented the nation’s first statewide system designed to provide counseling and assistance to victims of violent crime. The program, administered by the division and the Delaware Victim’s Center, was supported by the 1984 Victims of Violent Crime Act. The centers, located at Newport Pike in New Castle County and at Southwest Front Street in Milford in Sussex County, provide victims and their families with a variety of services including:
In 1991, the Delaware State Police Victim Services Unit received the Tadini Bacigalupi Award from the National Organization for Victim's Assistance. The award was given in recognition of victim assistance programs of national distinction. The Delaware State Police was one of only three agencies recognized nationwide, as well as being the only police agency to receive the prestigious award.
During the decade, the division has fostered a productive relationship with several area schools in an attempt to help our young people confront some of the problems they face in our society. In 1990, the Delaware State Police implemented the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program in New Castle County. The concept of the DARE program was first conceived in Los Angeles, California in 1983, where it had proven effective in helping youths develop skills which enable them to resist peer pressure and avoid situations which expose them to drug use or experimentation. The DARE program places uniformed police officers in the public schools who teach classes to students in the 5th and 6th grades. The goals of the program are as follows:
Within the next two years, the DARE program was expanded to Kent and Sussex Counties. It still continues to help youths improve their self image and develop a sense of personal responsibility. In 1992, over 5,200 students in thirty-nine schools statewide participated in the program.
In an attempt to provide our youth with a safe environment in which they can learn and develop, the Delaware State Police became involved in the School Resource Officer (SRO) program in 1996. The SRO program places a plainclothes trooper within a particular school or school district as a resource to school administrators and students. The individual school district usually pays for the troopers salary, therefore it is a partnership agreement. The school district receives the benefit of having a trooper assigned to the district full time to handle any matters that may require an officer. The troopers also interact with students on a daily basis, opening the lines of communication and establishing trust. In addition to investigating all criminal offenses which occur on the school grounds, the School Resource Officers provide counseling services and referrals, and conduct presentations to students and school faculty relating to a variety of law enforcement issues.
The Delaware State Police Community Services Section recently created a program entitled the "Seven-Up Club". The program targets at risk eighth graders at the Henry B. duPont Middle School where 28 participants were selected from among the school's most troubled youth. In order to join the club, the youth must take a simple pledge, "Show pride and dignity in yourself". The troopers meet with the members and discuss different issues facing the children, such as drugs and school violence, then meet with each child’s parents at home in order to learn about their environment away from the school. The effort has resulted in improved grades and behavior among the program’s participants.
During the 1995-1996 school year, the Delaware State Police implemented a new program known as GREAT, (Gang Resistance Education and Training). The program is designed to equip middle school students with the skills necessary to resist gang activity. One thousand two hundred seventh grade students from three schools in New Castle County received the training during the 1995-1996 school year.
The pervasive drug problem in the First State has prompted the division to continue its proactive role in the deterrence, enforcement and prosecution of drug related offenses. During the early 1990’s, the influx of crack cocaine into small towns throughout the state and the resulting proliferation of open air drug markets forced local law enforcement to seek the assistance of the Delaware State Police Special Investigations Unit. The unit provided small town police departments with assistance in gathering intelligence, interviewing informants, conducting surveillance and implementing plans for drug raids.
The Delaware State Police implemented "Operation Clean Air" in August of 1990. This program enlisted troopers, detectives and patrolmen from local police departments in a combined effort to conduct "sweeps" of open air drug markets. These highly visible operations resulted in numerous arrests for a variety of drug and weapon related criminal violations, and received many favorable comments from law abiding citizens who lived in the drug infested areas where the sweeps were conducted.
The concept of "Community Policing" is the impetus behind many new programs and initiatives which have emerged during the decade. The Delaware State Police Crime Prevention Institute was established in 1993 by the Community Services Section. The unit's mission is to provide crime prevention education to the general public. Courses are offered statewide, free of charge, at the four campuses of the Delaware Technical & Community College. The topics covered include personal safety, carjacking, burglary prevention, neighborhood watch, fraud/financial crimes, drug awareness, as well as specific crime prevention topics relating to seniors and children.
During the same year, a federal grant was obtained and used to purchase a rural community policing van. The van would be staffed by members of the new Rural Community Policing Unit who were specially selected and trained members of the Community Services Section. The van will allow "on the spot" community access to the police in rural Kent and Sussex Counties traveling among several targeted communities in the two counties, with the goal of reducing crime in these rural areas. Programs provided by the unit include conflict resolution, peer leadership, drug awareness, crime prevention, and neighborhood watch.
In 1994, the LA LINEA Program (Latinos in Need of English Assistance) was developed through a partnership with the Delaware State Police and the Latin American Community Center. Projects designed to improve services to Delaware’s growing Latino population include: a 911 interpreter service in over 140 languages, a translated version of the Delaware Driver’s Education Manual and a Spanish speaking session of the DARE program at Camp Barnes in Sussex County.
The Business Community Crimes Unit was formed in the fall of 1995, with money from a federal grant. The unit's main purpose is to form a partnership between the business community and the Delaware State Police. The first site for the unit was the Fox Run shopping center in New Castle County. A trooper is assigned to educate the business community in the areas of crime prevention, personal safety and security. In the future, a county-wide business community watch program is to be developed, which will allow for the registering of all businesses served by the Delaware State Police.
In its ongoing effort to fight crime, the division has implemented a number of proactive programs which are designed to identify criminals and apprehend them either before or during the commission of their crimes. One such program, the Street Crimes Unit, was first adopted in 1991 in New Castle County. The unit was expanded to include Kent and Sussex Counties in October, 1992. It’s mission was to track known criminals, stake out possible targets of crime, such as convenience stores, and act on intelligence information gathered from various police agencies throughout the state. Although the units were discontinued in all three counties due to manpower considerations, they were recently reactivated in New Castle County.
Troop 2 initiated the Fugitive Investigative Search Team (F.I.S.T.) in October, 1991. The purpose of the unit was to seek out and apprehend wanted persons. During the Unit’s first three months of operation, seventeen persons were apprehended for a total of 94 charges. In 1992, 46 fugitives were arrested, for a total of 218 charges.
January 14, 1991, saw the beginning of Delaware's Firearms Transaction Approval Program. This program was administered through the State Bureau of Identification, and was the second program of its kind in the nation. It requires area gun shop owners to call the State Bureau of Identification when a customer wishes to purchase a handgun. The clerk or store owner provides an operator with the prospective customer’s name and date of birth. Criminal history checks are then conducted and the transaction is either approved or disapproved. The average response time for an approval was seven minutes, with a nineteen minute average for a disapproval. A total of 11,526 requests were made through the program that year, with 10,539 of them approved. Fifty-three wanted persons were apprehended while trying to purchase a firearm as a result of the program during the first year of it’s implementation.
In 1995, the division created a uniformed unit to work with the undercover officers of the drug unit. The Special Investigations Tactical Unit consists of five officers who work in uniform with marked vehicles in areas which are known for drug activity. The unit arrests known drug dealers and acts on intelligence gathered from the undercover drug officers.
In an effort to fight drug dealers that ride dirt-bikes in the Williamsville area, troopers from Troop 3 have coordinated an effort to repair poor roadways. The unpaved entrance to the area was of poor quality and full of pot holes and ruts, making police access difficult. Drug dealers would simply flee on dirt-bikes to avoid capture. With the assistance of inmates from the Morris Correctional Center, the road was repaired, making police interdiction efforts easier.
Sixty-five percent of homicides investigated by the Delaware State Police are reported to be domestic related. Of these domestic complaints reported to 911 centers in Delaware, 44% are calls to residences where the Delaware State Police have previously responded. In October 1996, funding was received through a federal grant to create a Domestic Violence Unit. The unit is modeled after a similar one in San Diego, California, which saw a drop in recidivism of repeat offenders from 50% to 3%, as well as a 50% decrease in the domestic homicide rate. The grant allows for seven troopers to staff the unit, with three in Sussex County, two each in Kent and New Castle Counties. The unit will work closely with Family Court, serve as a liaison with the Attorney General's office, work with hospitals, and coordinate efforts with the Victim Services Unit. The unit will also monitor Protection From Abuse orders issued by Family Court and track repeat offenders.
Issues of traffic and highway safety continue to be of concern to the public as they have throughout the existence of the Delaware State Police. In July of 1990, a new mobile intoxilyzer unit was unveiled, referred to as BART, (Breath Analysis Response Team). The team consists of an intoxilyzer placed on a van that operates in conjunction with several road units. The troopers conduct saturation patrols in areas where high incidents of accidents and arrests for DUI violations occur. Using the van as a central processing point, the troopers can test and process offenders in a more efficient manner.
In an attempt to reduce the number of deaths and injuries occurring on Delaware highways as a result of failing to wear a seatbelt, the Delaware State Police and the Office of Highway Safety announced a joint effort in June of 1994. The program, called the "Rollover Convincer", is used to educate the public concerning the dangers of not wearing seatbelts by demonstrating what happens to unrestrained occupants in an auto collision. The convincer is a 1987 Chevrolet S-10 pick-up truck cab, which is rotated by electric and hydraulic motors. It contains an unrestrained "dummy" which is thrown around inside the passenger’s compartment as the device rotates. The goal of the program is to increase seatbelt usage in the First State. The "Rollover Convincer" is towed to a variety of events and displays throughout the state by a 1984 marked Chevy Blazer.
Several part-time support units currently perform tasks which are vital to the division’s mission. They are comprised of troopers who commit their time and effort to the specialized tasks which they perform in addition to their regularly assigned duties.
In July, 1991, the division created the Tactical Control Unit (TCU) to respond to civil disturbances, labor disputes, public demonstrations, and other events involving large or disorderly crowds. The unit consists of thirty-one members, and is broken down into north and south teams. Four canine officers are assigned to the unit for crowd control purposes.
The Delaware State Police Bomb Disposal Unit is a part-time support unit which is the first responder to suspected incendiary devices. The unit searches, locates and diffuses or renders harmless packages, and devices that are suspect.
The Hostage Negotiation Unit is a part-time support unit which responds to hostage situations, barricaded or suicidal persons, or any other situation which requires their special communications skills and problem solving abilities. The unit is comprised of ten officers, which are broken down into north and south teams, who are available on a call out basis 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Scuba Team has the responsibility for the search or recovery of drowning and homicide victims, evidence and property, as well as vehicles. The unit maintains an airboat that can be used for the search of inland waterways and marshes. Membership into the unit is competitive, and candidates are required to attend the six week U.S. Navy Dive School in Panama City, Florida.
The Special Operations Response Team (SORT) is a part-time unit consisting of 24 members. They are trained in the use of specialized weapons systems, chemical agents, and entry tactics designed for resolving situations involving hostages or barricaded subjects. High risk entries for search and arrest warrants are also conducted by the unit. The team also responds to civil disturbances and any incident where the situation may require a tactical response. The unit is divided into north and south teams, with each having a trooper medic assigned to them.
In November, 1994, a full time Video Lottery Enforcement Unit was created to assist the Delaware Lottery in the monitoring of gaming facilities in the state. The unit consists of five people, who conduct background investigations on employees at the facilities. The officers also do the same for businesses involved in the gaming enterprise. The unit is also responsible for conducting investigations of internal thefts or other criminal activity that may occur at the facilities.
The Delaware State Police has relied upon its full-time civilian workforce to perform a variety of essential tasks since the 1940’s. One section which is often taken for granted is the Delaware State Police Transportation Section which oversees the preventive maintenance program for the division’s fleet of vehicles. Thirteen mechanics conduct a full-service operation for vehicles, including oil changes and complete diagnostic work, as well as engine overhauls. All divisional vehicles from patrol cars to the Mobile Command Post undergo a 17-point preventive maintenance check every 4000 miles. This in-house talent saves the division funds by completing work that would be much more expensive if done by private mechanics.
The State Bureau of Identification consists of nine uniform and thirty-four civilian employees. The services provided include: crime report data entry, criminal history record checks, expungements / pardons, detective licensing, fingerprinting, firearms transaction approval, missing persons clearinghouse, interstate identification index, information and security investigations.
Since the late 1970’s, the Delaware State Police Personnel Section has been charged with the responsibility of hiring all uniform and civilian members of the division. They also develop and administer the promotional testing and selection systems within the division, and oversee the career development program. They are also responsible for the payroll function of the division and work with trainers from Cardio- Kinetics in implementing the physical fitness program. The Personnel Section also manages the benefits package for all Department of Public Safety employees.
Part-time volunteers have also played a significant role in assisting the division in conducting its daily operations. The Volunteers in Police Support program utilizes senior volunteers who help at the troops in performing non-law enforcement functions. Examples include updating computer files, auditing warrant files, and providing follow-up calls to crime victims. Interested volunteers are selected through the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, (RSVP). The volunteers proved to be a great asset to the troops by freely giving of their time and providing needed services.
The division continues to ensure that all of its members receive the latest available training and continue to receive education in their particular fields of specialization. The Delaware State Police created a leadership development course curriculum to be given to sergeants and lieutenants in 1996. The goal of the training was to provide leadership training for first and second line supervisors. The courses last one to two weeks, with emphasis on management theory and human relations skills.
A new initiative which began in 1996 is known as "roll call" training. Short five to ten minute blocks of instruction including both written and video material are conducted during roll call before a shift goes on patrol. Examples of topics include the divisional pursuit and force policies, sexual harassment, etc. The concept behind the training is to give the information in short blocks at the troop level, instead of taking a trooper off the street for longer periods of time.
In order to assist drill instructors with some of the responsibilities which they incur when recruit classes are being trained, a program was initiated in 1996 called "TAC", Trainer Adviser Counselor. The program allows for troopers to rotate from other assignments in the field to the academy to assist with the training of the recruits. The troopers receive specialized training before they are assigned as "TAC's". Their stay at the academy usually lasts for approximately seven weeks, divided into two to three week periods.
Technology has been on the forefront of advances in policing during the decade. Officers in the field have access to immediate information via computer terminals mounted in their patrol cars, allowing them to work with greater efficiency. Accident investigators now have the ability to measure the most complex collision scenes with speed and accuracy which was previously inconceivable. Advances in the area of fingerprint analysis and drug detection have facilitated the detection of crimes which may have previously gone unsolved. New laser technology is used to detect speeders and traffic violators, in an effort to reduce injuries and deaths related to traffic accidents.
In 1992, the Delaware State Police was the first police department on the east coast to use computers and modern surveying equipment to measure and diagram the scenes of serious and fatal traffic crashes. Three Sokkia "Total Station" surveying systems and the computer equipment and training necessary for their operation were purchased for the division by the Delaware Turnpike Authority. The Total Station utilizes the concept of Electronic Distance Measuring (EDM), which provides an accuracy of up to 1/100th of an inch at a distance of 1,000 feet. The equipment was assigned to the Fatal Accident Investigation and Reconstruction (FAIR) teams in each of the three counties. Using the equipment, the teams of investigators are able to measure and reconstruct collision scenes with uncanny accuracy. In addition, the Total Station and the computer aided drafting software which it compliments drastically reduce the road closure time which is needed during a major accident investigation.
That same year, the Delaware State Police and Delaware National Guard became partners in the testing of a new piece of equipment, known as "Ionscan". The machine allows for the detection and analysis of trace amounts of narcotic residue, to the billionth of a gram. Delaware was chosen as the national testing site for this new piece of equipment, with the Delaware State Police being the first state police agency in the country to use the technology. In 1992, over $100,000 in currency and vehicles were tested and seized using the machine.
In June, 1992, the Delaware State Police established the Computer Support Unit. The unit's initial focus was on helping to establish the Computer Aided Dispatch program in Kent and Sussex Counties. This allowed for specific information about complaints to be entered into the system by dispatchers, such as the date, time, and location of the complaint and the officer assigned. Such information would allow managers to analyze events and productivity in the troop areas.
Three years later, the Delaware State Police joined other state agencies on the Delaware Internet. A file server was installed at each troop, headquarters, and the Video Lottery Enforcement Unit, forming a LAN, (Local Area Network). The LAN has the capability to communicate with other state agency networks, forming a WAN, (Wide Area Network). This WAN has become known as the Delaware Internet. The Computer Support Unit maintains all of the divisions computer equipment and software and ensures that all of the integrated networks are functioning properly.
The Delaware State Police went "on-line" in 1996 with the creation of an Internet site on the world wide web. The address is as follows:
Information on the site includes:
The Executive Staff
Table of Organization
Information on the Various Troops and Sections
A History of the Division
Delaware's Most Wanted.
In November, 1993, the Delaware State Police Mobile Command Center was completely refurbished with up-to-date communications equipment. The van is used for on-scene command and control of emergency operations, allowing county emergency communication centers to continue normal dispatching functions. The Mobile Command Center is designed for use at police and fire emergencies, civil disturbances, natural disasters, etc.
During that same year, the division purchased the latest technological weapon available in the war against speeders. LIDAR or Light Detection and Ranging is a technology by which a hand held laser device is used to clock speeders at distances of up to 4000 feet. The laser has one major advantage over RADAR based systems. They are vehicle specific, allowing an officer to "zero-in" on a specific vehicle, even if it is traveling with a group of other cars, leaving little or no margin for error.
Technology also provided Delaware troopers with some new and improved weapons during the decade. In 1994, the division underwent a transition to the Remington model 870 shotgun in 12 and 20 gauge sizes. The Smith and Wesson model 3000 12-gauge shotgun had been used since 1982. The new shotguns have durable synthetic stocks and are equipped with tritium sights which allow the shooter to use the weapon in situations where there is little or no light. In the fall of 1995, the division also changed the issued handgun. The Smith and Wesson 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, used since the mid-1980's, was replaced by the Sigarms model P229. The P229 is chambered for the .357 Sig cartridge, which is considered "ballistically" superior to the 9 mm round.
The year 1995 witnessed the development and testing of the Mobile Data Terminal project (MDT). This was a program in which lap-top computers were placed in patrol vehicles to allow troopers immediate access to information. Through the MDT, a trooper can run data requests from the vehicle, such as drivers license or registration information. This saves the officer from making the request through the communication centers, which are often busy with requests from many different officers simultaneously. The clear advantage is time-savings for the patrol trooper waiting for information. The Delaware State Police is the first law enforcement agency in the state to use this technology. In addition to data requests, a patrol trooper can also complete a criminal warrant and fax a copy to the magistrate court. The warrant can then be reviewed by the judge before the trooper's arrival at court, and then signed when the warrant is sworn to, providing additional time savings. The trooper can also complete crime and accident reports on the MDT, allowing them to remain on patrol while they complete paperwork. At the end of the shift, the trooper can return to the troop and simply print out their reports for the day. The program was tested as follows: five terminals at Troop 1, one terminal at Troop 3, and one terminal at Troop 7. The pilot project was a success, resulting in the acquisition of 44 terminals through a federal grant in February, 1997. Funding for additional MDT’s will be sought on a continuing basis with the hope that all patrol cars will eventually be equipped with the terminals.
The implementation of the 800 MegaHertz, (MHz), radio system began in 1996, and continues into 1997. The project will replace the two way radio system used since the 1970’s. The 800 MHz system will allow troopers at opposite ends of the state to talk to one another as though it were a phone call. The project utilizes a "trunked system", which is similar to that of cellular phones. Users will include other state agencies in addition to the Delaware State Police. The 800 MHz system is being brought on line in phases, to ensure officer safety and allow for familiarization with the new radios. New Castle County will be the first on line, with Kent and Sussex Counties, respectively, following approximately 12-18 months apart. The existing radio system will be maintained simultaneously, until the 800 MHz is completely functional statewide.
Another technological advancement which should prove invaluable in the cataloguing of fingerprint data is referred to as "Livescan". In appearance, the machine resembles an automatic teller machine, commonly used at banks. The livescan allows for the inkless fingerprinting of subjects. A persons finger is rolled across a glass screen, which has a light underneath similar to a copy machine. As the light moves, the trooper rolls the subject’s finger across the screen. The machine actually takes a picture of the prints, and then reproduces them onto a print card. If the person already has information in the criminal justice system, that information will either be printed onto the card or added at the terminal. If a subject has no identification, or gives a false name to the trooper, their prints can be compared at the State Bureau of Identification from the livescan instantly. The "inkless" printing and quick comparison save both time and effort involved in processing subjects. The instant comparison feature will also help prevent the release of possible dangerous subjects who give the police false identification at the time of arrest. Each state police troop will be equipped with livescan.
In 1997, the Delaware State Police is considering the use of Lo-Jack, which is a stolen vehicle recovery project. Under the program, a device is placed in an undisclosed location on a vehicle. If the vehicle is stolen, the device can be activated remotely by the police. The vehicle will then emit an electronic signal, which can be received by devices placed in patrol vehicles. While on patrol, the trooper can locate stolen vehicles by using the equipment. While the project is in the preliminary stages, many states along the east coast are currently using the system. The costs will be minimal, as the vehicle owner is responsible for paying for the unit to be placed in their vehicle.
With the training of the 66th recruit class, hired in January, 1997, the strength of the Delaware State Police will total 566 sworn members. This class of troopers will face a society marked by rapid technological and societal change, where the only thing constant is change itself. The trend of increased public demand for police services will continue into the next century. Technological advances will also continue to assist and change the way policing itself is done.
The year 1998 is truly a milestone for the Delaware State Police. This is the year we celebrate 75 years of existence, and take time to reflect on the accomplishments of our past. The year also places us on the threshold of a new millennium, and all of the excitement and challenges the division will face in the years to come. If past history is an indicator, we will undoubtedly experience many changes and continue to evolve in order to meet the needs of the citizens we police. Throughout these changes we must strive to continue to exhibit the unwavering dedication and courage which troopers of the past have displayed in the performance of their duties and exhibit the tradition of quality service to the public which has been our trademark for the last 75 years. In the following year, the Division developed another unit called the Governor’s Task Force or GTF that paired probation officers with Troopers to address quality of life issues in high crime areas. Lastly, the indoor firing range facility was constructed near Smyrna which proved to be a valuable asset for the training needs of Troopers and other agencies.
During this period, the Delaware State Police constructed a new state of the art 53,000 square foot facility, Troop 2 in Glasgow, New Castle County and moved Troop 5 to a newly renovated building along Route 13 in Bridgeville, Sussex County.
The Division also created the High Tech Crime Unit (HTCU) which conducts comprehensive investigations involving computers and computer related technology. In 2007 the HTCU joined forces with the Delaware Attorney General’s Office, U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies to form the “Delaware Child Predator Task Force.” This highly successful Task Force is responsible for coordinating online child exploitation investigations and prosecutions throughout the state as they proactively identify, arrest, and prosecute sexual predators who would use technology as a means to target and reach their victims.
Delaware law requires the Delaware State Police to maintain a registry of sex offenders available to the public. The State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) is the section within DSP responsible to provide this service. The Sex Offender Apprehension and Registration Unit (SOAR) within SBI is responsible for registering and tracking sex offenders as required by the Delaware Sex Offender Registry Law (Megan’s Law). The SOAR unit consists of fourteen employees to include five sworn, four agents and five civilian employees. There are four sworn detectives assigned to the unit to conduct criminal investigations of offenders who fail to follow Delaware’s Megan’s Law requirements. SOAR also has four agents; these were newly created positions in 2008, consisting of recently retired police officers who conduct statewide notifications for all offenders residing in State Police jurisdictions.
During the decade the Division created a Motorcycle Unit that has been instrumental in providing services in highly congested areas and improving traffic enforcement. Adding to an already impressive Honor Guard Unit was the formation of a Pipes and Drums Unit. Unit members perform at funerals, parades, official state functions and other special events. These units proudly express the Troopers commitment and professionalism to the public we serve.
As we begin the new decade, the Delaware State Police continues to move toward intelligence based policing, community service and commitment to quality services.