The History of the Rocky Hill Police Department
The Rocky Hill Police Department has been a “Police-Community Partnership Since 1938.” The following timeline makes reference to just a few events from our storied history.
Before 1938 constables, who had arrest powers, took care of law and order in town, including traffic accidents, burglaries and raids (gambling or liquor). Constables had to respond to incidents in their own cars and had to purchase their own uniforms. For fatal accidents or murders, the Connecticut State Police would be called.
At the end of May, beginning of June 1938, Elmer J. Edwards, a West Hartford Police Department supernumerary officer, became Rocky Hills' first police officer, after he was sworn in on Memorial Day. Officer Edwards' duties began on June 1st, 1938 . He was given a file cabinet at Town Hall and also worked out of his home on Main St .
The town purchased the first police cruiser, a 1938 Ford Standard Tudor, for $753.85.
In July of 1938 the towns' first supernumerary police officer is hired.
In May/June of 1939, Officer Elmer J. Edwards, Rocky Hills' first police officer, is sworn in as the first chief of police. Two additional supernumerary officers are added to the force.
In July of 1948, a second full time officer is hired. The police department now has a police chief, one full time officer and at least 8 supernumerary officers. They have one cruiser, a 1948 Ford.
In December of 1950, the former South School , at the corner of Main and Forest Streets, is designated as the town's first police station.
On July 4, 1951 , Rocky Hill's Police Station officially opens following six months of rehabilitation and repairs. Department members spent their own time renovating the facility, securing supplies and donations. These donations include a furnace from a local business.
In February of 1953, Rocky Hills' 1952 Ford cruiser occupied by 2 officers is sideswiped by a drunken driver on Dividend Rd. near Oak Hill Rd. causing the cruiser to tip on its side, injuring the 2 officers.
By November of 1953, the police department has a police chief, one full time officer, nine male and two female supernumerary officers, and one 1953 Dodge cruiser.
In September of 1955, the departments' 1955 Ford cruiser is involved in an accident at Main and Elm streets at 4 a.m. while chasing a stolen car from New York . The cruiser is totaled after rolling three times and hitting a telephone pole. The officer escapes with minor injuries.
In September 1956, Rocky Hills' first police chief, Chief Elmer J, Edwards resigns.
In May of 1957, Officer Alfred Quintiliano is promoted to sergeant, the first in the history of the department.
In June of 1957, William R. Reid is sworn in as Rocky Hills' second police chief, and shortly after in August of 1958 he resigns.
In September 1958, Sgt. Alfred Quintiliano is sworn in as Rocky Hills' third police chief.
By the end of 1961, the police department has one chief, one sergeant, three full time officers, seven supernumerary officers, and two police cruisers and a cruiser ambulance.
In September 1962, five full time officers resign at 8 a.m. because of various conditions, including insufficient staffing of the department, which they claim puts them in danger. After a four-hour meeting with the police commissioners, residents, and the first selectman, the officers rescind their resignations.
During the summer of 1969, the police department acquires its own radio frequency and hires three civilian dispatchers. The department no longer has to rely on the Hartford police dispatcher for calls. The police station begins to be manned 24 hours a day.
In September/October of 1970 the police department moves into its new headquarters, located at 699 Old Main Street in the Town Hall addition.
In March of 1971 the police department gets its first radar unit. It's a two or three man operation and can only be used in daylight hours.
In May of 1972, Officer Teddy Pawlich becomes the first full time youth officer and the town gets its first police K-9 (see police K-9 history). Charles Catania becomes the department first deputy police chief.
In 1973 the department gets its first radio console, which will transmit all calls for police, fire, ambulance, and public works.
In 1974 Youth Officer Teddy Pawlich starts a local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America Police Explorer program.
In November of 1975, Chief Alfred Quintiliano retires after 31 years of service. He was chief for 17 years, which is the longest tenure anyone had served in that position.
In March of 1976, Deputy Chief Charles Catania is sworn in as the departments' fourth police chief.
In June of 1976, Sgt. Robert Riley Jr. is sworn in as the departments' first lieutenant, and the first armed police auxiliaries are also sworn in.
In April of 1982, Chief Charles Catania retires after 23 years of service.
In May of 1982, Philip H. Schnabel is sworn in as Rocky Hills' fifth police chief.
In April of 1989, a 1989 Ford cruiser with only 800 miles on it is totaled after being struck by a drunk driver on the Silas Deane Hwy.
In May of 1989, supernumerary officers are discontinued and full time officers start carrying 9mm handguns.
During the 1989-90 school year, Officers' Frank Dannahey and Joe Vernali start the DARE program in the elementary schools.
In January of 1991, Officer Robert Catania arrests a local resident for the brutal murder of a family member. The arrest is the result of a “routine” field interview on the Silas Deane Highway .
In August of 1991, while pursuing robbery suspects on I-91 south, Officer Roy Bombaci faces automatic weapon fire.
In July of 1993, Police Chief Philip H. Schnabel left office..
In December of 1993, Lt. Philip Dunn is sworn in as the sixth police chief. In July of 1996 he retires after 28 years of service in the department to become Rocky Hill's town manager.
In 1996, the department is among the first in the area to purchase 3 dedicated natural gas powered police vehicles for patrol duty. The town is later recognized by Energy Secretary Richardson as a “ Clean City ”, and is awarded, in total, over three hundred thousand dollars in grant money to continue in its efforts.
In 1996, the towns first Community Policing Sub-Station is opened at Town Line Plaza . The station and the Police Explorer Post are later relocated to the Pavilion west Shopping Plaza , to address the needs of the growing west end of town.
In November of 1996, Lt. George Marinelli is sworn in as Rocky Hills' seventh police chief.
In July 1997, Rocky Hill Police vehicles are emblazoned with the “Police- Community Partnership Since 1938” motto on their quarter panels for the first time, stressing the department's commitment to community policing.
In July of 2000, the town takes delivery of its first four-wheel drive police patrol vehicle. The 2000 Ford Expedition is specially equipped for police duty, and is the supervisory command vehicle.
In June of 2001, Anthony Magno is sworn in as Rocky Hills' eighth police chief. This is an interim position while a national search for a permanent Chief is conducted.
On January 2, 2003, Michael D. Custer, a Captain with the Middletown, Connecticut Police Department is sworn in as Rocky Hills' ninth police chief.
In 2003, the department launched a Marine Unit, reactivated the K-9 Unit, re- gained the position of Deputy Chief, obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money for vehicles, communications and building needs, and the November 2003 ballot for town elections granted a total renovation of our police facility. Our officers are also outfitted with Glock Model 21 side arms, as well as the latest in field technology and firepower. 2003 was the beginning of great growth under the leadership of Chief Custer and the cooperation of the community as a whole.
Today in 2007, the department consists of the Chief and Deputy Chief, 2 Lieutenants (Division Commanders), 5 Sergeants, 3 Detectives , 1 Youth Officer, 21 Patrol Officers, 2 part time animal control officers, 6 fulltime and 1 part time dispatchers, and the clerical staff, composed of an administrative secretary, a records clerk, a management information analyst and a secretary assigned to the Criminal Investigations Unit.
The Rocky Hill Police Department would like to thank Mike Martino of the Rocky Hill Historical Society for providing additional information on the history of the Rocky Hill Police Department.