In the early 1900’s, State Police forces were established to enforce the laws governing prohibition, vice, and labor disputes. Often local constables or sheriff’s either could not, or would not, enforce these laws fairly. The outcry of the public for action resulted in the formation of the Connecticut State Police Force that evolved into the department of today.
The roots of state law enforcement in Connecticut began in 1895 with the creation of the Law and Order League of Connecticut. A law enabled the Governor of Connecticut to appoint four “agents” to serve as in order to enforce the State Liquor and vice laws, which at the time were being ignored by local authorities. The Law and Order League served until it and other versions of it were abolished in 1903.
On May 29, 1903, Governor Abiram Chamberlain signed House Bill #247 which authorized the creation of the Connecticut State Police. Five state police commissioners were appointed to lay the groundwork for the first state police department. In October of the same year, Thomas F. Egan was named the agency’s first superintendent. He was empowered to appoint the first state police officers. He chose five and their primary duties were to enforce laws pertaining to intoxicating liquor and gaming violations. These first five were paid $3.00 per day.
The first office was in the State Capitol, the second was in former Governor Bulkely’s mansion located at 100 Washington Street, the current site of Troop H.
Two years into the operation, Superintendent Egan acquired the additional title of State Fire Marshal. Departmental duties were expanded by including assault, breach of peace, burglary and theft investigations. As population increased, the number of highways and vehicles grew proportionately. More authority was delegated to prevent crime and make Connecticut safe and secure.
By 1913, the department numbered 15 state police officers and in 1923 there were 80. Between 1921 and 1924, seven barracks were established outside of Hartford with one or two officers manning each of these “sub-stations.” Weigh stations were placed at strategic highway locations to control overweight vehicles and prevent other violations of state and federal motor carrier laws.
Superintendent Robert T. Hurley became commissioner in 1927. Fashionable emblems and uniforms were adopted in 1921, and equipment, vehicles and weapons were upgraded.
In 1939, Governor Raymond E. Baldwin appointed a Connecticut State Police commissioner who would revolutionize the agency–Edward J. Hickey. Hickey wasted no time establishing the country’s first state police FM three-way mobile communications network the year he assumed command.
During the 1940s, Hickey increased the strength of the department, created an in-house newsletter, embarked on a public relations campaign and used clearly-marked cruisers to remind motorists of police presence. He divided state areas into divisions which encompassed 11 stations, and established six advanced and specialized units. He had the uniform redesigned and updated the Bureau of Identification, the forerunner of the present-day, state of the art Forensics Lab.
In response to the nation’s entry into World War II, he organized an auxiliary program and assigned 1,200 of those volunteers to guard bridges and installations vital to defense against possible sabotage. Auxiliary officers are still doing their job today but as a much smaller unit. A training academy, gun-owner registrations, resident state police officers, state policewomen, and the nation’s first motor vehicle radar detection system (1946) were other Hickey innovations during his 14-year reign.
Hickey was third in a list of distinct individuals whose foresight and leadership provided the progression to afford our agency the renowned reputation that it enjoys today.
The Connecticut State Police survived challenges of all kinds and it has reacted admirably, professionally and responsibly to diversified assignments, whether it be man-made or natural disasters, public demonstrations, riots or protecting presidents. No longer is it the department’s single most important duty to chase down a bootlegger, raid a still, or pinch someone who rustled a farmer’s cow.
Polygraph, Connecticut On-Line Law Enforcement Communication Teleprocessing, Canine Unit, Firearms Range, and D.A.R.E. (training of state and local officers in drug awareness) Helicopters, and Advanced Forensics are among other features added by the department over the years.
It is a department of troops and troopers instead of stations and officers; it is the department that has sacrificed willingly the lives of 19 troopers and two auxiliary troopers to the preservation and protection of people living in or traveling through Connecticut; it is the department of 1,000 (approximately) dedicated soldiers of the law who wear the gray Stetson; it is a department ready to answer the challenges of the new millennium.