Jamestown Police Department Town of Jamestown, Rhode Island

HISTORY OF THE JAMESTOWN POLICE DEPARTMENT


The Jamestown Police Department became a permanent police department in 1958. Prior to that year the laws were enforced by constables as early as 1875. These constables were appointed by the Town Council and had many duties. Some of these duties included enforcement of bird laws, laws against the spread of contagious diseases among meat cattle, and truancy laws. There was also a constable who was responsible for lighting the town’s street lights. This constable was paid $90 a month.

          In 1890 the Town Council adopted a police ordinance which read: “Police constables by the statutes of the State, the special police constable, while on duty, or at other times if called upon by responsible parties, perform the following duties, to wit; he shall prevent the collection and disperse any disorderly crowd in such numbers as to obstruct the passage of peaceful persons through any public place, and shall arrest without warrant and carry to the police station, any person who may be noisy and disorderly or intoxicated in any street or public place”. In 1892 this ordinance was amended to include the work hours these constables would be on duty. The ordinance stated that constables would work from 8:00pm to 1:00am from July 1 to September 20. It also stated that their rate of pay would be $1.75 per night.

          On September 16, 1899, an Advisory and Improvement for Society Committee was charged with looking into the issue of a permanent police force. On April 5, 1900, this joint committee recommended money be appropriated to secure “capable, able bodied men for police duty”. The recommendation was to have a Chief of Police and eight officers for duty to work day and night. No action was taken on the recommendation and the town continued its procedure of appointing constables until 1958.

          The Jamestown Police Department is currently authorized for 14 sworn officers and 5 civilian dispatchers.


CHIEFS OF POLICE

Chief Frederick C.B. Smyth                                   1958-1974

Chief James G. Pemantel                                       1974-1992

Chief Thomas P. Tighe                                          1992-2011

Chief Edward A. Mello                                          2011-