Department History

Falmouth Police Department
History



The Town of Falmouth was first settled in the 1600’s and received its first recognition as a Town in 1658. It received its name in honor of a small village at the mouth of the Fal River in Cornwall, England, from which some of the earliest settlers came. The original boundaries of the town extended all the way from the Spurwink River in Scarborough up the coast to a point opposite Clapboard Island. This covered most of what is now Westbrook, Cape Elizabeth, South Portland Portland and Falmouth. Cape Elizabeth and South Portland broke away in 1765, Portland in 1785 and Westbrook in 1814, leaving Falmouth the size it is today, approximately 33 square miles.
The early history of the Department began in 1718 when the Town was incorporated, and the Office of Constable was created. The Constable was usually a person who continued in his own line of work, but pursued minor offenses when called upon. Unfortunately Falmouth’s records from 1790 to 1843 were lost when they were destroyed by fire. But in 1843, the records indicate that whoever held the Tax Collector position was usually chosen as Constable as well. Such was the case for Mr. John Williams and Mr. Perley Leighton, two of our earliest constables. Mr. Leighton was the Tax Collector and Constable for 27 years.
In 1953 Falmouth had two Constables, Mr. Harvey McCann and Mr. Raymond Marshall, Jr. At that time the Department utilized volunteers for special police work. It was also during this year that the need for a formal police department was first mentioned in the Town Report.
In 1957 the first full-time Police Chief, Mr. Raymond Marshall, Jr., was appointed, and in May of that year the Department began operations on a full-time basis. It was comprised of the Chief, one full-time patrolman, seven special officers, and one matron. For the first month on the job Chief Marshall worked alone until the first patrolman was hired in June of that year. The first town owned police car was a station wagon that doubled as an ambulance.
It is interesting to note that the first chief and officers were trained at Portland Police Department for a mere two weeks before going on the job. The records indicate that Chief Marshall was “loaned” six .38 caliber revolvers from the State Police because the Town could not afford to purchase their own.1966 Cruiser with Chief Jones, patrolman Bill Vining and Patrolman Steve MercerThe budget for the Police Department in 1957 reflects the economy of the times when a new police car “with a radio” cost $2,100; cost of all personal equipment and uniforms was $900; total budget for the Department was $13,640. Today the Department operates under a budget of approximately $2 million.
In 1968 Mr. Clyde LeClair was appointed Chief of Police, and the Department along with a rapidly changing community, began to emerge as a full-time agency with five full-time officers. Falmouth, which long had been a rural and farming area, was becoming a residential suburb of Portland, with a character of its own.
Mr. Craig Hall was appointed Chief of Police in 1981 and the Department continued to grow along with the community.
The current Chief of Police, Edward J. Tolan, was appointed to the position in September 1995. Immediately after his appointment, the Department began the planning for expansion of the existing police facility, and increasing the size of the Department to meet the demands of a growing community. During the years since 1995 the Department has added additional patrol officers and dispatchers to meet the needs of a community that experienced a rate of growth of 35% between the 1990 and 2000 census.
The Department, which currently employs 24 full-time and 9 part-time personnel, provides services for 11,500 residents and a rapidly expanding business sector, all within the 33 square miles of territory.
In addition to the land area the Town boasts one of the most protected anchorages on the Maine coast, and coupled with its location in the largest population center in the State, the Department’s Harbor Division provides public safety services for two marinas and over 1,300 boats with a staff of two officers, and two seasonal park rangers.
In January 2008 the department moved into a new state of the art facility located on Marshall Drive.
As we move into the 21st century, the Town government and the Police Department continue to work together to maintain the quality of life that the residents of Falmouth have come to expect throughout the years.