THE MAYOR’S REPORT: Past law enforcement

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

So how about that weekend rainfall? Our water system springs that serve us in Greencastle-Antrim should certainly be healthy! Two weeks ago, I wrote that I would author papers regarding police: past, present, and future, so stay-tuned.

Meanwhile, the sun is trying to visit us on a quiet Sunday afternoon with a steady breeze. If you couldn’t make it last Thursday morning to the National Day of Prayer service at the Greencastle Presbyterian Church, you may view the service on You Tube by typing in Greencastle, PA Presbyterian Church. Be sure to type in “Pennsylvania.” Otherwise, you’ll get the Presbyterian Church in Greencastle, Indiana. A special thanks to the G-A Christian Women’s Fellowship and our ministerium for this special program.

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

So, May 4th was International Firefighter’s Day and May 15 is National Peace Officers Memorial Day to pay tribute to the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice as peace officers. National Police Week 2022 is May 11-17.

Grab a cup of coffee or some iced tea as we go back in time regarding law enforcement history. Back in 2017, Sharon Baumbaugh wrote a series of informative articles entitled “Remembering the Law, Parts 1 thru V.” So, so interesting Sharon. I really appreciate your research. In 2016 I created a power-point presentation regarding law enforcement history. We have used this for a Greencastle High School “Police Experience Day” program where junior and senior students spent a “mini-academy” day with GPD officers. The annual program was put on hold due to the pandemic.

From the Franklin County DA:COMMENTARY: Local law enforcement is ‘One Team, One Fight’

In the community:Annual fund drive benefits Jerome R. King Playground

America’s first system of law enforcement was in Boston, Mass. In 1630 the city enacted local laws (ordinances), constables, and watch groups. Modern policing was initiated in 1829 by Sir Robert Peel in England. Early America witnessed much social disorder and unrest without law enforcement services. By reading Greencastle Town Council minutes this was also true in Greencastle. Therefore, in 1887 a “policeman” was employed, assisted by a high constable and the Franklin County Sheriff. Criminal activities included larcenies, assaults, riots, and disorderly conduct. I surmise that “riots” in 1887 were barroom fights as folks came to town and indulged, sometimes to the extreme. When I began my law enforcement experience over 40 years ago, we had quite a few altercations as a direct result of over-indulgence of alcohol and illegal drugs.

Greencastle’s lockup was on South Jefferson Street near where the Highline Train Station is located. The lockup had to be moved in 1905 to make way for the highline that was constructed on the west end of Greencastle in 1908. In 1900, a report to Greencastle Council stated “175 tramps were in the lockup for the year.” Council complained about the amount of coal that had to be purchased to heat the lockup. The new lockup (two cells) would be constructed on the first floor of Council Hall (fire station) at 60 N. Washington St., where the present police headquarters is located, at a cost of $167.

A police headquarters would not be available until 1942 (World War II) with the town receiving its first police car. Police headquarters would be a single room on the southwest corner of Center Square adjacent to South Carlisle Street. Headquarters would move to its present location 20 years later. A police phone would be in the police chief’s home even through the late 1980s as a centralized county telephone system would be placed in service (in the 1970s). Officers would use citizens band (CB) radios to communicate. If the phone was not answered locally, a lone dispatcher would answer in the former Franklin County Courthouse Annex (Civil Defense Building). The 911 system would then be placed in service several years later, although the non-emergency phone number back then (717-597-2161) is still in service and answered either locally or at the 911 Center. CB radios would be replaced with low-band, two-way radios at 45.62 Mhz.  

Ah, Greencastle, PA, in 1962! No Interstate 81. Where the towns stopped, farms were prevalent. Homes were primarily in or near the various villages of Antrim Township. Businesses were growing on the relative new Route 11 known as Antrim Way. Area residents bought their groceries at the many stores downtown unless they went to the new Sunnyway Food Store (where the current Rite-Aid is located). Downtown was packed with shoppers Friday and Saturday nights. You’d drive around looking for a parking space. The Jerome R.  King Playground would plan an expansion as more land was acquired to the north thanks to a healthy donation from Mrs. William R. Davison who lived at White Hall in the 500 block of East Baltimore Street. The library was on the second floor of Council Hall at 60 N. Washington St. Greencastle’s population was 3,293. New housing developments were under construction known as The Orchard and the Baumgardner Development. All businesses were closed on Sundays. The only doors that were open were the churches that were well attended. Everyone wore hats to church, including the children. The baby boomer families were growing. I was one of them.

This 1962 photo shows the Greencastle police chief shaking hands with the captain of the school safety patrol. Learn their identities in an upcoming Mayor’s Report.

So, do you remember the AAA school safety patrol? Check out the photo of the police chief shaking hands with the student captain of the school safety patrol. OK … here’s your quiz. In the 1962 photo, what was the location? Who was the police chief? Who was the sixth grade student? I’ll provide the answers in a couple weeks. We’ll visit law enforcement of  today in my next writing.

Meanwhile, enjoy springtime and the beautiful flowering trees of G-A. Golly, we’re certainly blessed!