1829  The earliest known record indicating the town constable was paid for his services. John Gowing received $3.50 for duties performed this year.

1845  Micajah Gowing offers to serve as constable for an annual fee of $10.00 and is subsequently elected.

1854  Levi Swain Jr. is elected constable, the first of many Swain family members to serve the town as either constable or police officer. Others being Levi W. Swain (special officer), Charles W. Swain (special officer), William E. Swain (chief and constable), and Ellis E. Swain (special officer).

1863  Samuel B. Nichols becomes the town’s liquor agent, regulating and licensing the sales of intoxicating liquors, and levying fees and taxes on products sold. Although more of a salesman than an enforcement agent, the tee totaling Nichols still made sure the liquor laws were strictly obeyed. When the town went “dry” a few years later and the office was abolished. Nichols was later elected constable.

1864  The former Free Will Baptist Church is purchased from the defunct congregation for $1000.00 and is converted into the town hall. The building, in subsequent years, would offer office and lock-up space for the town constable and, in later years, to the chief of police and special police officers. Although not an actual “police station”, it did become one of the first public buildings used for such police related business.

1872  Wilmington joins an increasing number of municipalities that begin to form police departments. The annual town report shows that former town constable A. Porter Pearson, who lived on the “Andover Road” in the “Land of Nod” (North Wilmington), was appointed as the town’s first police officer. His duties were to assist Constable Samuel B. Nichols.

1873  The town appoints five special police officers; A. Porter Pearson, Noah Clapp, Charles W. Swain, Z.T. White, and Stephen O. Butters. These officers are subordinates of the constable and were to be used on a part-time basis as needed. And though appointed, there is no indication that they were paid for their services or if their services were ever needed. Although all well known residents, these men were probably also considered for appointment because each one lived in a different section of town, an important factor in the days before telephones and automobiles.

1875  The annual report for 1875 indicates that Henry Buck was paid $4.00 for his services as a special police officer. In addition, the town paid the W.A. Brooks Co. $3.00 for police badges. This is the first year that the town records expenses for police services and equipment.

1876  Town expenses for police services increase to $6.00 as special police officers Henry Buck, A. Porter Pearson, and Thomas Bancroft are each paid $2.00.

1878  Special police officers Othniel Eames, Edward M. Nichols, Charles F. Harris, Levi Swain Jr., Thomas Bancroft, Otis Buck, John McDonald, H. N. Eames, G.T. Eames, and John H. Simpson are collectively paid a total of $21.00 for police duty, handcuffs, and badges.

1879  The annual town report does not list the names of special police officers amongst its other town officers yet payment from the town’s miscellaneous account shows William H. Carter, Thomas Bancroft, Levi Swain Jr., Edward M. Nichols, and John H. Simpson were each paid $4.00 for police duty.

1884  The town appropriates $300.00 to erect a building for holding prisoners. This jail or lock-up, built adjacent to the Old Burying Ground, was later moved across the street becoming a wing of the town hall.

1887  Names of special police officers listed once again with other town officers. A. Porter Pearson, Stanley Porter, and Charles F. Harris shown with the date their terms expire (March 1888), indicating for the first time that the positions where filled annually at the town meeting. Each officer was paid $2.00 for his services. In addition, Stanley Porter was reimbursed $1.25 for a badge and handcuff keys.

1888  Stanley Porter serves as both constable and special police officer this year. In addition, the town pays $50.00 for police services in “the apprehension and conviction of burglars who broke and entered the dwelling houses around Silver Lake”.

1890  In addition to special police officers, the town appoints a keeper of the lockup. James A. Baxter is paid $3.00 for his services in this position. From this date forward the town begins to regularly appoint a person to act as overseer of the jail cell and its prisoners. In later years the position would be consolidated with that of police chief.

1891  Former special police officer Edward M. Nichols, son of Samuel Nichols, is appointed as keeper of the lockup. The town’s special police officers Daniel C. Norcross, Reuben Hawarth, A. Porter Pearson, and Levi Swain Jr. were collectively paid a total of $36.00 for police duty. The annual town report also indicates for the first time that the town paid another police department for police services. The city of Woburn was reimbursed $6.00, although the report does not indicate why the service was needed. In addition, Charles Sargent, who was also the town constable, was paid $.85 for a police badge and $7.50 for raiding the “Painter Place”. Although no details of the raid are provided, it is possible it was for illegal liquor production as Wilmington was a “dry” town at the time and the house was located far from the populated parts of town making it an ideal place for this type of activity.

1893  Charles B. Haley appointed Wilmington’s first police chief, to be in charge of the town’s special police officers. Chief Haley served for one year and was paid $17.00 for police duty, $5.16 in court fees and $1.00 for “twisters”, an early handcuff-like restraining device. In addition, the town paid $59.22 for the services of seven special police officers, the keeper of the lockup, court fees, travel expenses, handcuffs, badges, and handcuff keys.

1894  Samuel R. Rice appointed Wilmington’s second police chief. He would serve until 1899. He was paid $6.00 during his first year for his services. It appears his police pay was so little because he was also serving as constable and was being paid $25.00 for service in that position. The annual report for this year also shows a schedule of town property, the lockup building being valued at $300.00 and police badges and handcuffs being valued at $25.00. In addition, the position of truant officer is included in the list of special police officers.

1896  This is the first year that the annual town report lists police expenses under their own heading. In previous years expenses would be drawn from a miscellaneous account. Total expenses for police related services in 1896 were $404.04.

1898  This year the town relied heavily on the assistance of other cities and towns paying the city of Woburn $3.50 for keeping prisoners and the town of Reading $19.00 for police services. This year also indicates for the first time that Wilmington’s special police officers are armed. Schmiel R. McIntosh was paid $6.05 for a revolver, cartridges, and billy club and $13.50 for police services.

1899  William E. Swain appointed Wilmington’s third police chief serving until 1912. In addition, the town votes to accept a new code of by-laws. A section entitled “Police Regulations” gives police the power to enforce rules governing the use of the town’s streets and sidewalks.

1900  The town begins to appropriate a specific amount of money ($100.00) on a yearly basis to support police services. It is hardly sufficient and additional expenses paid for through court fines and surplus town money.

NEXT: 1901-1950