Police have been around here since 1677, when Medford’s first peace officer, Mr. Goodman John Hall was elected town constable. Back then it is believed that constables received their pay mostly from the fees they collected from making arrests and attending court. Over the years, a number of constables were elected as the town’s “peace officers” until the year 1870. Although there were constables keeping peace between 1677 -1870, no officially recognized and organized force of full time city policemen existed. Then, on March 21, 1870, the selectmen from the town finally decided to establish a full time police force by hiring 8 policemen and thus was born the Medford Police Department.
Back then, there were a number of common facial features the police all exhibited. Nearly every officer had a “handlebar mustache.” They also dressed in a English style police uniform of long “bobby” topcoats and metropolitan London police hats. Moreover, just like many English/Irish forces today, many of the early police force members were not armed, they had just their “billy” clubs.
It appears that some English style policing did influence early colonial America towns like Medford. This is seen in the old uniforms, badge styles, hats and other equipment. The term “bobby” refers to Sir Robert Peel, the police reformist of the metropolitan London police. The first modern municipal police force was established in 1829, when Sir Robert Peel in England introduced the Metropolitan Police Act establishing the London Constabulary. Some of the methods of policing used back then were basic in design and are still used today! Like for instance our foot beats, beefed up police responses to incidents, crowd control, and night watchmen. Obviously, policing then, compared to today, is an evolving and adapting process.
Imagine enforcing these old State Laws:
- Mourners at a wake may not eat more than three sandwiches.
- Snoring is prohibited unless all bedroom windows are closed and securely locked.
- An old ordinance declares goatees illegal unless you first pay a special license fee for the privilege of wearing one in public.
- Hunting on Sundays is prohibited.
- It is illegal to go to bed without first having a full bath.
- No gorilla is allowed in the back seat of any car.
- Tomatoes may not be used in the production of clam chowder.
- Quakers and witches are banned.
- Bullets may not be used as currency.