THE HISTORY OF OUR DEPARTMENT

The City of Burlington is rich in history. Founded in 1677, our community once served as the “Capitol of West Jersey.” Included in the deep rooted history of the City is the proud tradition of our Police Department.

1796: The first mention of law enforcement in the City of Burlington Council Meeting Minutes concerned payment, which stated “a constable may collect four pounds, ten shillings and eight pence for his service.” The persons or person needing the service of the constable usually made the payment. There is little mention of any other detail, except that the constables were elected. The elections continue to be noted every few years through the early 1800s, and include names such as John Smith, Samuel Rogers, John Lowden, and Eber Reeves.

1836: A committee of four councilmen was formed to “propose such measures as necessary to improve the police of the city.” The findings of the committee were as follows: “the Mayor is naturally considered the head of the police department, and that the constables should be given suitable salaries. Mr. John Tonkins and Mr. Sam Stevenson were consulted and signified their willingness to perform the duties of their office for a fair and regular compensation, which was granted at $20.00 a month, to be paid by the City. This is the reference point used as the official “birth” of an organized police department in the City of Burlington. Throughout the next several years, there are other appointments, referred to as “officers”. 

1848: Lyceum Hall was purchased by the City of Burlington, as currently located at 432 High Street. In May 1851, council approved an addition to the building, at a cost of $800, which contained two cells. This was designated as the City Prison.

1857: City Council adopted an ordinance further regulating the police. The ordinance, in short, stated, “[T]he mayor would appoint police officers, council could confirm or reject the appointment, and that removal for cause would be the absolute power of the mayor.” By October 1858, the City of Burlington had five regular police officers. Police salaries became an issue in 1861, as “… one of the heaviest expenditures for the year was police salaries amounting $1000.00.” 

1863: The first Chief of Police in the City of Burlington would be appointed by then Mayor H. Hollenbach. He would appoint Joseph L. Wright to serve in the position. Chief Wright would only serve for a brief period of time, as mayor and council reassumed control of the police by 1870.

1875: The first Police Lieutenant was appointed at a salary of $500 per year. His name was William S. Marter.

1877: The City of Burlington purchased uniforms for its police officers. Prior to this, officers were required to buy their own uniforms.

1884: The first City Attorney was appointed. The ordinance provided that he was the “[C]hief law officer and shall prosecute and defend all actions brought by or against any city office.” In June 1887, the police requested a raise from $40 to $50 per month, which was approved in May 1888.

1893: Council passed an ordinance that established guidelines for discipline in the police department. “[N]o police officer could be removed for political reasons. The only cause for discipline shall be as follows: incapacity, misconduct, non-residence or disobedience of rules and regulations. All charges must be in writing and submitted to the mayor in three days. The police committee will examine the charges for disposition.”

1897: The position of Captain was established. This served as the basis for disagreement between the council and mayor until 1902. During this time, the police budget was $5,000. 

1904: A petition was introduced by African-American citizens seeking the appointment of an African American police officer. The petition was read and received but not acted upon.

1907: The first Police Call Box was placed at the intersection of High and Broad Streets. The City subsequently maintained six such boxes until 1987.

December 3, 1907: Officer George Gusrang was shot and killed in the line of duty while investigating a robbery. He was the first of two recorded line of duty deaths in the City of Burlington Police Department.

1911: The City of Burlington purchased the first Police Patrol Horse and Wagon for the department. This quickly changed, as in 1914 then Mayor Mount proposed a motorized “… police patrol and ambulance vehicle which would reduce the expense of horse drawn vehicles.”

August 4, 1914: Officer Thomas Rogan was shot to death while on duty. 

1917: Councilman Farner introduced a motion for the Police Committee to draft the first set of Police Rules and Regulations. The motion was passed.

1920s: Police Officers were appointed Deputy Tax Collectors to assist in the collection of taxes for the City. The first police patrol vehicle was purchased in 1921 at the cost of $1,800. Shortly thereafter, Officer George Dibbin became the first Motorcycle Officer. The City required that he have a telephone placed in his home for police calls.

1940: The City of Burlington established a pension plan for officers, which was overseen by the Police Committee of Council. 

1941: The use of a radio in patrol vehicles was introduced, and in 1943 two police station radios were purchased with the permission of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) and Army Interceptor Command.

1944: The City of Burlington submitted a petition to its voters to adopt the Civil Service Act. That same year, Council adopted an ordinance governing the Police Reserve Officers.

1948: The salary of a Police Officer was $54.51 per week.

1952: George Schultz, a resident of Burlington Island, was appointed “Special Officer of the island, responsible for the protection of the island.”

1954: The City Council passed an ordinance creating the office of Chief of Police. Peter J. Yeungling was appointed on September 7, 1954.

1958: The City hired the first Clerk Typist for the Police Department.

1959: Council was split on the budget. The Solicitor of the City convinced Council to pass a temporary budget, as the Chief of Police was paying for gas for patrol vehicles out of his pocket. Council obliged three days later.

1967: Lieutenant Ray Butterfield was appointed Acting Chief of Police to replace retiring Chief Yeungling. Acting Chief Butterfield served until the results of the civil service test in August 1968, when George L. Clayton was made Chief of Police.

1960s: Civil unrest existed in the City of Burlington. As diverse community, we suffered some of the same turmoil as larger cities. One of the results was the establishment of a Tactical Team in 1969, which continues as our current Special Response Team (SRT) today.

1970s & 1980s: The police department continued to grow. There were experiments with diesel cars and new equipment.

1984: Leroy Breece was appointed Chief of Police, replacing the retiring Chief Clayton. There were 38 Police Officers in the City of Burlington, which had a population of approximately 12,000.

1987: The City of Burlington transferred dispatch duties to Burlington County Central Communications.

1989: City Hall was deemed not suitable for habitation. The police and other office were moved across the street to temporary offices. This marked that beginning of several years of temporary headquarters. In 1992, the police moved to trailers at the base of the Burlington Bristol Bridge, where we remained until 2003.

1995: Bryon K. Marshall was appointed Chief of Police, replacing the retiring Chief Breece.

2001: The Police Department established the K-9 Unit in the City of Burlington with the deployment of K-9 Rocky (Handler: Lieutenant Alan Snow).

2005: John Lazzarotti was appointed Chief of Police, replacing the retiring Chief Marshall.

2010: Anthony J. Wallace is appointed Chief of Police by Mayor James A. Fazzone, replacing the retiring Chief Lazzarotti.

 

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