Town of Dover Town of Dover

October 20, 2017
7:13 PM

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The history of law enforcement within the Town of Dover began in 1880. A Police Marshall was assigned by the county to serve Dover from 1880 to 1911. The first officer to serve was Mr. James Hagen who was later named Police Chief on April 27, 1898. This appointment did not come without scandal though. The position was already filled by Chief Charles W. Bowlby but he was ousted by the city council. Chief Bowlby refused to step down from his position and remained patrolling and conducting business as usual. This action became local news as well as reaching the New York Tribune which also gave commentary. Chief Hagan’s tenure ended in 1901 and Ethelbert Byram took over the position for the next twenty years.

A town ordinance was adopted to regulate and control the police department on August 21, 1911.  The new ordinance called for a Police Chief, Sergeant, Detectives and Patrolmen.  The first police headquarters was located on North Morris Street, one block southeast of where the current headquarters is located at 37 North Sussex Street.

The Dover Police Department became the subject of state and national news in May of 1931. Dover Police Officer Charles E. Ripley was on patrol when he noticed a vehicle park in a bus stop and the operator walk into a local store. Police Officer Ripley recognized the remaining occupant as Mr. James Nannery, America’s #1 most wanted individual. Mr. Nannery was found to be heavily armed but was taken into custody without incident. Mr. Nannery was wanted for escaping from Sing Sing State Prison in New York on August 8, 1928. Mr. Nannery was also wanted in New York for the murder of a police officer. Mr. Nannery was a well-known gangster during this time period.

On May 22, 1930 tragedy struck the Dover Police Department when it suffered the first line of duty death.  On that date, Police Officer Thomas Deshazo was providing a police motorcycle escort to Charles Lindberg and his family. During this escort he was thrown from his motorcycle and sustained serious injury. Police Officer Deshazo died two days later. On December 30, 2003 the unthinkable occurred again. Police Officer Arthur J. Ohlsen III responded to a report of a brush fire along the New Jersey Transit Railroad Tracks. While investigating the scene, he was struck and killed by a passing commuter train. The names of both men, Police Officer Thomas Deshazo and Police Officer Arthur J. Ohlsen III, are engraved on the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington D.C. Both of their badge numbers, Deshazo #1 and Ohlsen #115 have been retired from service.

Today, the Town of Dover Police Department has 33 members. The Patrol Division is under the  command  of  Lieutenant Francis J. Coppinger. Detective Lieutenant  Anthony  Smith commands  the Investigative Division. There are four Patrol Sergeants and one Detective Sergeant. There are twenty Patrolmen and four Detectives. The department has one motor patrol officer and several  officers qualified for bicycle patrol. These tools are especially effective for patrolling the busy downtown area. The department is always pursuing innovative techniques and technology in law enforcement to better serve the visitors and residents of the Town of Dover.

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