Smyrna Police Department History
On March 14, 1845 Smyrna’s commissioners conformed to legislative mandate by hiring constables for the town. Ten men were appointed to that office. Benjamin Enos, Thomas Hawkins, Samuel C. Shaw, John Mitchell, William Keys, Joseph Stayton, Robert Trustom, Isaac Davis, Isaac M. Sparks and Robert Faries were nominated and appointed to hold office for one year.
Police work in the early times was on a voluntary and part-time basis. The pay was in connection with each arrest made.
On June 5, 1847, at a Commissioner’s meeting, Robert M. Boyer, Louis Cavinder, William Powell and Steven Townsend were appointed Town Constables.
On September 11, 1860, Nutter Spence and Benton Wheldon were employed as policemen. For services from 9 o’clock Saturday night until midnight on Sunday night they were paid $2.00. They agreed to patrol the streets on other nights of the week and receive as compensation one dollar for every necessary arrest.
This type of law enforcement was common until 1907 when Ben W. Turner was appointed Chief of Police and town hauler at a salary of $85.00 per month. Other part time and special policemen assisted Chief Turner.
On January 11, 1913, a new Chief of Police was selected. Lee Cochran of Middletown, De. was hired at a salary of $60.00 per month. This was the beginning of the first truly organized police department in Smyrna. Aside from Chief Cochran, the department consisted of a number of part-time policemen, including the former Chief of Police, Ben W. Turner.
Sometime in May of 1922, Joshua Lewis replaced Lee Cochran as Chief of Police and served in that capacity until retiring in 1938 when John W. Jacobs Jr., who had been an officer since 1930, was appointed Chief of Police. Chief Jacobs remained in that position until 1961 when he retired due to health reasons.
Eden Jones, a retired state trooper, was appointed Chief of Police to replace Chief Jacobs but served only for a short time before being replaced by William Short, another retired state trooper. The department consisted at that time of six full-time policemen and one part-time policeman. The department provided service to the citizens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It now also had two radio equipped police cars, walkie-talkies and a radio base station.
William C. Woehlke was appointed Chief of Police in June of 1968, replacing the retiring Chief Short. During his tenure the department grew to nine full-time officers.
William C. Raynor was appointed Chief of Police on August 1, 1975, replacing Chief Woehlke. The department now included four dispatchers, one secretary and two cadets as well as the nine full-time officers.
Chief Raynor was relieved of duty in December of 1979 and Sgt. Nelson Mesick assumed command as OIC until March of 1980 when he was appointed Acting Chief of Police. In June of that year James T. Vaughn was appointed interim Chief of Police and served until December when he was elected to the Delaware Senate.
Donald H. McGinty was appointed Chief of Police on December 29, 1980. The department at that time consisted of thirteen full-time officers, one part-time officer, five dispatchers and a secretary. During his term as Chief of Police, a new building was constructed at 325 W. Glenwood Ave. roughly tripling the size of the police facility.
Chief McGinty retired in August of 1997 and was replaced by Chief of Police, Richard H. Baldwin Jr. In 2010 Chief Baldwin retired and Chief Wilbert R. Bordley was appointed as his replacement until his retirement in January of 2014. Lt. Norman Wood was appointed interim Chief of Police on January 6, 2014 and then on July 21, 2014 Norman Wood was sworn in as Chief of Police by Mayor and Council. After Chief Woods retirement, Chief Torrie James was promoted from Captain to Chief in April of 2019. The Smyrna Police Department now has an authorized strength of twenty nine full-time police officers, seven full-time dispatchers, part-time dispatchers, a civilian police administrator and a civilian administrative assistant. The department has, among other special services, two motorcycles, a bicycle patrol, a Special Tactics and Response Team and two school resource officers.
The Smyrna Police Department is a full service, Community Oriented Policing agency and serves the citizens of the Town of Smyrna in a very different manner than it did at its inception over 150 years ago.