Eastchester Police Department: 1909 - Present

The Eastchester Police Department possesses a rich and honorable heritage. With an authorized strength of 49 full time officers, our department’s primary mission is to protect life, liberty and property of all people within the Town of Eastchester.

In 1895, The Town of Eastchester, as we know it, assumed its present boundaries. With this, the Town also started its rapid growth from a small rural community which was mainly supporting the Quarry Mines to a crossroads of transportation in lower Westchester. During this time our law enforcement needs were covered by Town Constables who took time off from their regular trades when they were on duty. In 1909 it was decided that a Town Police force would be established.

On May 25, 1909 a committee met and put forth an official motion to create a town police force. On May 29, 1909 James Gavin and John Scanlon began their duties as Eastchester’s first paid officers. The Police Station was a storefront rented from Mrs. Roirdan for the Sum of $240.00 a year. The storefront still exists to this day at #207 Main Street in Waverly Square.

The Department was initially called the Waverly Police Department, because at the time of inception, Waverly Square was the center of activity in an otherwise rural area. The only other business district in town at the timewas Union Square which is at the corner of what is now New   Rochelle Road and California Road.
 
By 1912, the department was up to 5 paid officers under the command of Captain Scanlon. Capt Scanlon was the first of eight men who have held the position that was originally called Captain of Police and since the 1930’s has been known as Chief of police. Captain Scanlon led the department thru the early 40’s and was instrumental in getting the newest department communications equipment that was being developed for that time.
 
In 1915 before the new White Plains   Road was opened, Capt Scanlon was able to get a new call box system installed to reach his patrolman and 1 motorcycle officer. In July of 1933 Captain Scanlon was able to have the Eastchester Police department become the first department in the United States to have a two way radio system installed in our two Police Cars.
 
In the late 30’s the old wooden Immaculate Conception Church on Main Street was torn down and a new police and fire headquarters was built in its place. This was a good move for the department as in late 1930, The Benedict Stone Works which was located on Dale   Road in Eastchester went up in smoke from a spectacular fire which ended all quarries in town.
 
This ended our need for a base near the pubs in downtown Waverly Square and our manpower was rapidly growing out of the antiquated police station. In 1931 the departments manpower had grown to 22 and by the early 1940’s the department manpower was up to 26 total men with an average yearly patrolman’s salary set at $2708.42 per year.
 
In 1942  World War II caused some personal upheaval as numerous officers were on military leave helping our country to victory. During this time Chief Scanlon took ill and the department was taken over by acting Chief Fred Romano. After Chief Scanlons Death in 1945 and the end of the War, returning war veteran Kenneth Soden took over the reins of the department from 1947 until our 4th and longest serving Chief took over in 1954.
 
Another World War 2 veteran, Vincent D Fisher started in April of 1954 and ran the department for over 19 years until his retirement in December of 1973. This was also a time of massive growth for Eastchester in both residents and manpower. The town’s population tripled from between 1920 and 1960 and the department was now up to around 60 men. By the time Chief Fisher took over the town was a very diverse area ranging from  tenements to grand houses. There were intellectuals, day laborers, directors of industrial empires and shop keepers trying to meet the rent.
 
The department then had a new focus to expand our resources to  meet the needs of both the residents and the new shopping districts near Wilmot   Road and Garth   Road. By 1957, this growth caused the town to purchase and remodel the old Oakridge Golf Course clubhouse which was opened as both the new town hall and the third and final location for The Eastchester Police Headquarters.
 
Chief Fisher led the department into the early 70’s and was held in such high regard amongst his peers that he was elected President of the Westchester County Chiefs association. He also expanded the department’s detective division to 8 men and had the pay risen to over 6500.00 per year for a patrolman in 1961. 
 
After Chief Fishers retirement in late 1973, Ralph Martinelli was appointed chief  and held that position until his retirement in 1989. By this time the major growth of the community had slowed down to a crawl and the department as we know it today really began to take shape. The town police patrol was broken up into 4 distinct patrol sectors with numerous foot posts in those sectors.
 
In 1989, Chief James Maher took over and updated the department considerably. He had a state of the art Phone system installed linking all the major departments in town government and replaced all the antiquated six shot revolvers with new 40 caliber eleven shot semi automatic handguns which the officers still carry today. Chief Maher also developed the DARE program for our schools and was the first Chief to have this department accredited by the state of New York.
 
Chief Maher was also in charge the day that we tragically lost one of our officers. Officer Michael Frey was gunned down on March 21, 1996 at 2:55 PM by a madman intent on murdering a Police Officer. This tragedy spurred this department onto its greatest growth.
 
 Chief David Speidell took over in July of 1996 and started many programs that protect both the residents and officers. He was instrumental in starting an aggressive notification system to identify and report to town residents such things as registered sex offenders living in the town. He also formed the Multi Jurisdictional Emergency Response Unit with the Tuckahoe police, the Child Safety Seat Program, computerization in the department, a Bike Patrol Unit and was at the forefront of all Police Departments in America in the use of Electric Fleet vehicles for Law Enforcement purposes.  
 
In 2005, Chief Tim Bonci became the eighth Chief of the department. He  also implemented many progressive programs including being the driving force behind the Emergency response team, a K-9 unit, starting a technology-information records department and equipping police cars with the latest equipment including touch screen laptops, digital cameras and an in car video system to record all actions of the officers and the public that they deal with.
 
Chief Bonci was instrumental in the formation of a four Town Drug and Alcohol Taskforce (BESTADE) which was able to make over 123 arrests in its first full year of existence and an arrest total of over 350 in 3 years. The department now includes 49 total officers whose primary duties are to protect the 18,564 residents and countless daily visitors. We now have a fleet which includes both a Speed Detection Trailer and Child Safety Seat trailer which were both obtained through government grants and local donations.
 
Our Calls for service have increased from a mere 392 calls in 1915 to over 7915 calls for service in 2016. We also have increased our vehicle and traffic enforcement from 78 summonses in 1915 to averaging nearly 5000 in recent years.

The Eastchester Police department celebrated its 100 years of service to the community as being a leader in both the use of Technology and modern police practices. We have a great group of officers whose roots are firmly in town and who continue to strive to be the best.The present police department continues to dedicate its time, talent, equipment and manpower to crime deterrence and maintaining our rich tradition of service-oriented policing. We are very proud of the past hundred years of service to our residents, businesspeople and visitors and look forward to a continuing legacy to provide the best service possible.
                       
In 2015, the Eastchester Police Department earned state accreditation, when the New York State Law Enforcement Accreditation Council unanimously awarded the department its certificate in Albany. That followed a yearlong process during which the department showed it met 133 standards in policy and operations, and a three-day on-site assessment by council officials. At the time, less than 25 percent of agencies statewide held accredited status.

The department continues to adhere to the highest of standards and will carry on its tradition of providing the highest quality service to the residents of the Town of Eastchester.