The Dartmouth Police Department was established on March 6, 1922 by voters approving Town Meeting Article 59. “To see if the town will vote to accept the provisions of Chapter 41 Section 100 of MGL relative to the establishment of a police department.”
Prior to 1922, law enforcement for the town was conducted by appointed Constables and privately paid police officers. The first order of business for the newly formed department was to appoint a Police Chief. John Baxter was appointed on March 6, 1922 and served until December 31, 1922. In the year end town report Chief Baxter wrote: “After I accepted the office of the Chief of the Police Department, I found that there was more need of a police department in the town than I had ever realized. More from the lack of co-operation, each man attending to what they see fit than from real graft. I feel very keenly that it would be a great mistake for the town to go back to the old arrangement, as of course you fully realize, that a man elected on the ballot cannot, and will not enforce the laws as sharply as a man appointed. I strongly recommend the appointing of a man to take my place until March first, so as not to lose the routine of the department, as I know it will be better with a head than left to let the men run to their own head.”
After the resignation of Chief Baxter, Thomas W. Barnes was appointed Police Chief. He served from March 1, 1923 to March 1, 1927. Chief Barnes had some police experience, he served as a private paid police officer 1914-1915. Chief Barnes would later resign after several officers threatened to quit the police department due to a gun battle in January 1925 that took place between Max Fox and his rum-runners and boot-leggers at the Bergeron Farm on Old Fall River Road. The officers (William J Reynolds and Albert Choquette and an unidentified third officer) were sent by the chief to the farm on a complaint of someone stealing chickens. The gun battle resulted in many wounded, most fled. The officers were unharmed. Later all of those involved were captured in New Bedford and held on $10,000 bail which for that time period was very high.
Joseph E. Christie was appointed chief and served from May 3, 1927 to March 1, 1931. Chief Christie was appointed a police officer in 1922-1926, he received a one-year appointment in 1934 as a sergeant. He too faced challenges with enforcing the prohibition laws and rum-runners were still quite active in town. During this same time Chief Christie faced tension between appointed Constables and the Police Department. Finally at the 1928 Town Meeting the tension ended. During the meeting funds were cut from the Constables and funds for the police department were increased.
Chauncey R. Mosher was appointed chief and served from March 1, 1931 to March 1, 1934. Chief Mosher established a very effective and efficient patrol function of the department. He stressed the importance of officers patrolling the town.
Clarence Brownell was appointed chief and served from March 1, 1931 to August 23 1948. Chief Brownell had no police experience and he also served as the Fire Chief in Dartmouth District #1 from 1917 till August 23 1948. He served in both positions till his death. He was the first chief to die in office. Under the command of Chief Brownell the police department grew to new levels. The position of sergeant was established in 1934 appointing Benjamin Dunn, the first ambulance was purchased in 1936 and two patrol cars equipped with 3-way radios were purchased in 1939. Prior to the purchases officers used their personal vehicles to respond to calls for service. During 1938 there were many political shakeups with the town and the police department was also involved. Chief Brownell was relieved of duty on March 15 1938 and David Morrison was appointed chief.
Chief Morrison served as a special officer 1927-1930 and a police officer in 1930 and 1937. Chief Morrison was the Fire Chief in Dartmouth District #2 from 1925-1927 and 1929. On July 27, 1938 Chief Brownell was reinstated. Chief Morrison is the shortest serving chief of police, only 5 months.
In 1946 Chief Brownell established the rank of Lieutenant, appointing James S. Hervey
In 1947 the Dartmouth Police Department was in the public spotlight with the theft of the world’s 11th largest diamond. The “Amarti’ diamond (31.31 carats) was stolen at gunpoint from the home of Patricia Armati. Three men were later arrested and sent to prison for the crime, the diamond has never been recovered.
After the death of Chief Brownell, Lieutenant James S. Hervey was appointed Police Chief. He served from August 23 1948 to June 22 1963. Chief Hervey was a 1946 graduate of the F.B.I. Academy, making him the first chief to have completed that accomplishment. Chief Hervey was appointed a police officer in 1940-45 was promoted to Sergeant in 1945-46 and Lieutenant in 1946 to Aug 22 1948. Chief Hervey was a forward thinking chief, he doubled the size of the department to 10 men. On September 9 1948 the police department established 24-hour coverage. Under Chief Hervey, the position of Police Chief was placed under Civil Service on May 3, 1952 and May 28 1952 he became the first Certified Permanent Police Chief. Town Meeting approved placing all regular and intermittent officers also the under Civil Service. On August 21 1953 (2) Sergeants, (8) Patrolmen and (27) Intermittent officers took the test. On June 22 1963 Chief Hervey died, making the 2nd Chief to die in office. Chief Hervey often said “Treat people with respect” and “You’re not a cop, you a peace-officer”.
After the death of Chief Hervey, Sergeant Raymond Snell was appointed acting Police Chief. He served from June 22, 1963 to February 9 1964. In 1966 Sergeant Snell was appointed Deputy Chief, making him the first deputy chief of the department. He remained in that position until his retirement in 1974. From 1974 to 2010 the deputy chief position was dissolved.
On February 10, 1964 Sergeant Manuel V Medeiros was appointed Police Chief. He served until August 6 1983. Chief Medeiros was appointed a reserve officer in 1950-54, police officer 1955-61 and promoted to sergeant in 1962-64. Chief Medeiros was known for his rough cigar smoking exterior, but never used vacation or sick time. In 1966 the position of deputy chief was established, Sergeant Raymond Snell appointed. In 1974 the first K-9 was purchased and Sergeant Stephen Soares was appointed. Chief Medeiros was the longest serving Police Chief for the Town of Dartmouth.
Sergeant Stephen J. Soares was appointed chief and served from August 15 1983 to July 5 2000. Chief Soares was a 1986 graduate of the F.B.I. Academy, making him the second chief to have completed that accomplishment. Chief Soares was appointed a police officer in 1968-71, K-9 officer 1974-1980 was promoted to Sergeant in 1971-83. The department grew and many new programs were created, the D.A.R.E program, Marine Unit, Bike Patrol and many more. In 1991 the position of Captain was established, Herbert Tondreau was appointed. In 1999 the position of Police Chief was removed from Civil Service.
Captain Randall M. Medeiros, the son of former Police Chief Manuel V. Mederios was appointed chief and served from 2001 to 2004. Chief Medeiros was appointed a police officer in 1974-85, promoted to sergeant 1986-92, Captain 1993-99, Acting Chief July 6 2000-2001.
Chief Medeiros is credited with reorganizing the department command structure, updating the color scheme of the police vehicles, new uniforms, and introduced fuel efficient vehicles into the fleet.
Lieutenant Mark Pacheco was appointed chief and served from 2004 to January 2010. Chief Pacheco was appointed an intermittent officer in 1978-80, police officer 1981-1992, promoted to sergeant 1993-02, Lieutenant 2003-04.
Captain Gary Soares was appointed acting Police Chief. He served from January 2010 to March 22, 2010. In March of 2010 Captain Soares was appointed Deputy Chief. He remained in that position until his retirement in 2013. Lieutenant Robert Szala was promoted to Deputy Chief at that time.
Timothy Lee was appointed chief and actively served from March 23 2010 to March 9 2015. Chief Lee was the first chief appointed not from within the police department.
Deputy Chief Robert Szala was appointed Acting Police Chief on March 9 2015, a position he currently holds. Acting Chief Szala began his career with the department in 1983 and has rose up thru the ranks. He is credited for getting the Dartmouth Police Department accredited by the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission, enhancing officer training and professional education through state and federal programs. In September 2015, Sergeant Brian Levesque was promoted to Deputy Chief.