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Saturday, August 16, 2014


Law Enforcement Through the Years

The history of the Salisbury Police Department is relatively short, compared to how long Salisbury has been in existence. Before 1881, the county sheriff handled all the legal problems. When Salisbury was incorporated, the bailiff for the sheriff at the jail was also the tax collector, clerk and police officer. The first person hired for additional “police” duties was hired in 1881 and was called a night patrolman. His main beat was Main Street from Division Street to the river.
The Court House was built in 1872 and a jail was built behind it in 1879. Before Salisbury had its own jail, prisoners had to taken to the Somerset County Jail. The single building jail was razed in 1936 and an addition was added to the Court House to house both prisoners and the sheriff.
The first official Chief of Police was appointed by Mayor Jehu T. Parsons onMay 23, 1898. His name was Elijah M. Elliott. The whole force consisted of the Chief and three policemen or night watchmen. By 1907, the Chief had only two policemen on the force.
The picture above shows the entire force in 1921. Only five in the picture are policemen. They are Mayor Arthur W. Kennerly, Chief of Police Woodland Disharoon, George H. Williams, Fire Chief Fred A, Grier, Jr., Roland Cahall, George Sullivan and Sydney O. Furniss.
The Police Department’s first attempt to become motorized was in 1927. They purchased a motorcycle that was probably previously owned since it required repairs in early 1928. Their last attempt to utilize a motorcycle was in the 1950’s when one was purchased for use by Sgt. Paul Barnette. He rode it for many years and always led the Christmas parade. For this reason, he became known as Sgt. Santa Claus. I’m sure many can remember him roaring around town on his motorcycle.
As the City of Salisbury grew, so did the Police Department and the sheriff’s duties were confined mostly to the County. Since the city boundaries are so complex, many times the City Police and the County Sheriff’s Department have to co-ordinate their efforts in their pursuit of crime. Modern technology has made some things in crime fighting easier, but it is still a never-ending battle to keep our streets safe.


Anonymous said...

Great post George.This whole City-County issue makes one wonder why a county police dept was never created to eliminate the gray areas.All street signs could be the same color vs different colors based on which department has jurisdiction.The very thought that 2 agencies have repeatedly bickered over who would respond to an EMERGENCY is greatly troubling.I'll almost bet that the officers in the above photo didn't have any crap like that to deal with.They just responded without question.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Too bad officers are often facing life and death issue today instead of keeping the peace.

Anonymous said...

Sheriff Dept. should again patrol Salisbury. Time and time again the City Police have proven they are unable to do the job correctly. Politics play a controlling and destructive role in todays Police Dept.
One can not but giggle as drug deals go down all around the station house. Why were windows even built in it,, bird watching.

Anonymous said...

Too bad there is not a way for the public to report what is going on in the community without suffering the consequences. I regularly see a guy walk out to meet cars in front of his house and exchange money for whatever. Do you think I want to get on HIS bad side and have my name on a police report? Get real.

Anonymous said...

George is great