Dunellen Police Department
355 North Avenue, Dunellen NJ 08812 / Phone: 732-968-3000

Brief History of the Dunellen Police Department

Courtesy of John Triolo

When Dunellen was part of Piscataway  law and order was enforced by County Constables. When arrests were made officials had to take their charges to New Brunswick. In 1896 space was acquired for a lockup in town. To combat the increase in crime the Borough Commissioners passed an ordinance in 1893 giving the President of the Borough the power to appoint officers to patrol the streets on Sundays and arrest drunken and disorderly persons. Shortly afterward several constables were appointed: George Huff, Albert Warden, Voorhees. Also appointed was Alan Wilson whose duties were to stop bicycle riding on the sidewalks and catch stray dogs.

Also established in 1893 was a Law and Order League. Their attention was directed towards the unlicensed dens in town selling liquor on Sundays and the local sports to play baseball on Sundays. Inasmuch as the town lacked a municipal building the Justice of the Peace Huff held court in the parlors of the Park hotel, except for jury cases, which were held in the hall on the second floor. Jurors were recruited from spectators in the court and when necessary from passersby on the street.

It was 1897 before the Borough Marshals receive their emblems of authority – badges. Special Marshals (1908) were appointed for special duties at a rate of $2.50 per day of 10 hours and a fee of 50 cents for each arrest made when not on special duty detail.

By 1909 it was clear that Dunellen needed a permanent full-time officer and for such a man a salary of $65 per month was mentioned. This prompted the suggestion that a night man was required as well. This added expense caused the council to postpone their decision. In January, 1911 applications for the position of policeman were presented by James Hannon, Patrick Tarpey, W. Wooden and Luther Mundy, but no one was accepted at that time.

William a Davenport, was appointed Marshall in February 1911 and the following year outfitted with the uniform. In 1913 a change was made to the police system when the title of Marshall Davenport was changed to Chief Marshall Davenport and he was given authority over the Special Marshals of the borough. He resigned his position in 1914. That year the force consisted of the Chief and four assistants. The patrolman patrols the town on foot with a watchman's clock from 7 PM to 5 AM and his route is divided into two sections and covers eight stations.  He covers an area from Whittier Avenue on the south side of town to Mountain View Terrace on the North side of town and from Jefferson Avenue to Chestnut St.

Ninety-seven  arrests were made during the Police Department's first year subdivided as follows: non-support and refusal to maintain family, one; simple drunks, 13; vagrancy and panhandling, 14; drunken and disorderly, 29; theft, 12; held for outside authority, one; riding wheels on the sidewalk, five; attempted burglary, one; arrest for safekeeping (insane), one; assault, three; auto collision, one; fighting on a public highway, four; wife beating, one; quarreling and disturbing the peace, to; boys throwing stones, seven; receiving stolen property,2.

On December 16, 1915 the police force consisted of Chief Marshall Owen Mohan and seven marshals. Night marshal was Patrick Tarpey, who is the only paid employee of the borough with the exception of the chief, who received a nominal compensation for services. Tarpey covered 12 stations distributed on each side of the borough along with the other duties which included doing the janitorial work at the borough Hall.

Personnel on the Police Department on June 10, 1920 were Chief  Marshal  Owen Mohan, night marshal Patrick Tarpey, special marshals Harry Shugars, John Fedderman, W. Snyder, L. Metz, and Martin Caulfield. Patrick Tarpey was promoted to Marshal for the business district and adjoining streets in September of 1923. Samuel Strickland was put on as night officer in his place.

In August of 1924 it was decided to establish, equip and regulate a Police Department in the borough of Dunellen and to this end and ordinance was passed and Owen Mohan became the Chief of Police over two patrolmen, Patrick Tarpey and Samuel Strickland.

The year 1925 saw the expansion of the Police Department by the addition of John P Yunker, Robert Hindel, and Walter Palm to the force and the purchase of its first patrol car, a new Overland which cost $500. For checking speeders a motorcycle was also acquired. At that time the officers had only two days off a month until the Law and Ordinance Committee arranged a schedule giving each man one day off every week. The following year Pete Benson came onto the force and patrolman Palm resigned, while Patrick Tarpey was promoted to Capt. The years 1927 and 1928 saw the appointment of officers William Shields and Norman Schuyler. Police Chief, Mohan, who served with  Dunellen's law enforcement services for 27 years, retired on January 1, 1931. He started as a Marshall in 1893, became Chief Marshall in 1914 and was promoted to Police Chief in 1924. Mohan received the first pension granted to a police officer under the plan started in 1928. Captain Patrick Tarpey was promoted to Chief.

Dunellen Police Department's first patrol vehicle with Captain Yunker, 

1932 January 1: Nineteen Special Police and 1 Policewoman are appointed. Paul Rabouin is appointed as Dog Warden.

1933 January 23: The entire Police Department voluntarily agrees to take a pay cut of 10% for the remainder of the year. This was the height of the Great Depression and many townspeople were on Public Assistance. These  monies were paid from the municipal budget by the boroughs Department of the Poor and the County. 

1933 April 3: Leaflets are dropped from an airplane promoting the Dunellen Police/American Legion Minstrel Show and Dance.

1934 April 16: Police uniform model P-1-NYC regulation is approved for summer wear.

1935 September 9: Future Chief of Police, John Sobel is appointed as a Special Officer.

1936 September 11: Excavation for the new Municipal Building is started. It will also house the Police and Fire Departments.

1938 February 7: Twelve  additional Stop Signs are installed on streets that intersect Washington Avenue, Grove Street and Dunellen Avenue.

1938 April 11: The Council authorizes $225 for the purchase of 
photographic equipment for the Police Department. It also authorizes $450 to make repairs on the sole Police Car.

1938 May 2:  The purchase of a new Police Car is approved.

1938 June 6:  #1 Officer William Shields dies of complications from wounds received six months previous in a shootout with a armed robber at Myers Jewelers. He got the bad guy. 

1938 June 24: The first written exam was given to applicants for the Police Department by the State Police, here in Dunellen.

1938 June 30: Bernard Talada Sr. is hired as a full time officer.

1940 April 1: The monthly Police Report for March is as follows: 1 case of bigamy, a holdup, 1 case of forgery, 5 cars stolen (and recovered) , 3 speeders, and 2 dogs destroyed at their owners request.

1941 December 7: The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. America is now at war.

1943 February 1: Officer Norman Schuyler requests a leave of absence to enter the US Navy.

1943 September 7: Dunellen’s  Airplane Spotters Observation Post’s 
telephone is tied in to the Police Department.

1944 April 3: Officer Bernard Talada requests a leave of absence to enter the US Armed Forces. 

1945 July 2: The town is awaiting cable to install a traffic light at Washington and North Avenues.

1945 October 5: Norman Schuyler is back from the Navy and rejoins the DPD.

1946 March 4: Future   Chief of Police, John C. Mann is hired as a Class A full time officer.

1946 August 5: Dunellen PD has a new Police Car.

1947 July 17: Two way radio is installed in the Police Car and Headquarters.

1948 April 15: The first clothing allowance for Police Department uniforms is approved at $150 per year.

1948 May 6: Another Police Car is purchased.

1948 June 21: Radio equipment from Motorola is installed in both Police Cars and Headquarters for $3227 which includes spare parts.

1948 November 1: The Dunellen Municipal Court is established.

1948: The Police Cars, Ambulance and 1 Fire Truck all have radios installed.

1950 September 1: Captain John Yunker retires after 25 years of service on the DPD. 

1951 June 10: Chief Patrick Tarpey dies of a heart attack. He started in Dunellen as a Marshall in 1914 and became Chief in 1930.

1951 June 21: Officer Norman Schuyler , the senior patrolman, is promoted to Chief. Officer John Sobol is promoted to Captain and officers Mann and Talada are promoted to Sergeant.

1951 July  Police Report-“Keeping the judge busy”. 129 tickets for motor vehicle violations, 373 warnings of which 163 being pedestrian violations and 52 bicycle violations. There were 12 motor vehicle accidents with three persons injured. Eight arrests on criminal complaints, five cases of larceny, three missing persons and all were returned to their homes.

1951 July 12 House to House Solicitors Permits are put into effect. The Police Department fingerprints all who apply for permits.

1951 July 18 The Dunellen Police Department is still part of Triboro PBA Local # 93. This local consists of Dunellen, Middlesex, and Piscataway.

1951 August. The department received 137 requests for background checks from US counterintelligence, the Atomic Energy Commission, the FBI, the United States Marine Corps, the U.S. Navy, and from outside police departments.

1953 May 4 A traffic light is installed at North and Madison Avenues.

1954 April 5 The borough Council passes and ordinance to purchase a new Ford police car for $2000. Besides the lights and siren it must also have a heater.

1954 December 29.  Chief Schuyler requests retirement effective June 30, 

1955. He goes on sick leave and Capt. Sobel is made acting chief

1958 June 1 Chief Sobel retires and Capt. John Mann is promoted to Chief.

1960 December 16 The police traffic control booth on the Southwest corner of Washington and  North Avenues is demolished by an automobile. No officer was inside but the driver died.

1961 October 2 Foot patrol found 55  instances of North Avenue businesses doors that were unlocked for the month of September.

1962 January 2. Chief Mann gives letters of commendation to officers Talada and DiBiase for rescuing a 78-year-old woman from a burning building.

1962 November 5. A new police car is purchased from H.O.B. motors, Plainfield New Jersey, for $2165.

1963 May 6. Foot patrol is put into effect in residential districts.

1966 April. The Dunellen Police Department now has radar equipment to check speeders.