Welcome to the Melrose Police Department website! We are working hard to make Melrose a safer place to live, work, and grow!
Message from The Chief
On behalf of the Melrose Police Department, I would like to thank you for visiting our website. It is my honor to serve you as the Chief of Police. I take great pride in working with the dedicated men and women of our department who are protecting and serving this community.
Chief Michael L. Lyle
The Melrose Police Department pledges to maintain the highest standards of integrity, ethics, excellence and teamwork in the performance of our mission while at the same time protecting the Constitutional rights of the citizens. Our mission is to strengthen public confidence in the organization, develop and maintain positive relationships with the community and promote the concept of teamwork for the benefit of all, while at the same time promoting a safe and friendly community through enforcement and education.
The City of Melrose was incorporated om 1850 as a town. Melrose got its name from a Reverend named John McLeish alluding to the hillsides of Melrose, Scotland. Melrose officially became a city in 1899 and by the early nineteen hundreds (1900’s) The City of Melrose was populated with twelve thousand residents. Melrose’s first Mayor Levi S. Gould took office on January 1, 1900. Today Melrose has a long standing tradition of being self sufficient to support education, recreation, housing, shopping, entertainment, and other leisure needs. Melrose boasts of its excellent school system, cultural facilities and its 83 year old Melrose Symphony Orchestra. Melrose also offers varied open space such as Ell Pond located in Melrose Center. In addition to the pond Melrose also offers a wide variety of parks and recreation facilities for their residents. The recreation facilities consist of Pine Banks, Morelli Field, and two golf courses (Bellevue and Mount Hood). The current Mayor of Melrose is Robert Dolan; he has been Mayor since 2001.
Going back one hundred and fifty seven (157) years ago Melrose had little or no need for a Police Department. It was known that Melrose was a place with virtually no crime, and considered a great place to raise a family. Although there was little or no crime Melrose did employ four part time officers. There names were “Boobie” Newhall, Ansel Pierce, Mose Briggs, and Willy Tyler, these officers were only hired on the fourth of July to keep the peace and stop any disturbances as they happened. In 1880 crimes such as burglaries and disturbances started to arise in Melrose. The residents were extremely concerned, as well as the town officials. To remedy the situation town officials appointed Newhall and Pierce to “night watchmen” for the town. Their duties included rounding up tramps and bringing in drunks to bed down for the night. Back in the 1800’s the Police station was extremely primitive and it was located on the first floor of the town hall, the lock up was located in the basement. The Police department was only furnished with a desk and a few chairs.
In 1883 the Melrose Police Department acquired new equipment and the police force grew in numbers and efficiency. They appointed the first Police Chief by the name of Frank McLaughlin. The new equipment that was acquired consisted of a patrol wagon and an ambulance; this was considered “modern standards”. As Melrose is located in the Northeast by the time the winter months came along the streets of Melrose were covered knee deep with snow. In 1894 the town purchased a pung, which is a sleigh attached to a boxcar body, this served as a patrol wagon and an ambulance. To pull the pung the town also purchased a horse named “Harry”. Harry was part of the Police Department for twenty years, until he was replaced by “Harry II”. Melrose, known for its strict Victorian values, arrested offenders for crimes such as intoxication, loitering, and gaming on Sundays.
Chief Frank McLaughlin retired in 1909 Edward Kerr was appointed the next Police Chief in 1910. Chief Kerr took office and modernized the department significantly. In 1911 police signal boxes were installed around the city and were used until the 1980’s. The call boxes were designed so that the officers could call into the police station and report a problem or call for extra help. In 1929 a teletype set was installed for the first time at the police station. It was a new police station and was again located in the basement of the new city hall. Town officials also installed red recall lights around the city, when the red light flashed the officer called the station from the call box to receive his orders. These red light boxes were used until the 1970’s when the call box system gave way to two way radios.
The Melrose Police Department purchased its first patrol car in 1919, it was a “Ford touring car”, but even with the purchase of a car the police walking beat proved to be the best method to thwart crime in Melrose. During this time the average patrol officer walked his beat checking doors, and looking for fires and any other suspicious activity. In 1922 the police department purchased 2 motor vehicles called “prowl cars” Walking beat officers that were used and most effective from the start of the Police Department were obsolete by the 1990’s.
In 1946 the increase in automobile traffic in town became a large problem. To solve the problem the city installed 280 dual automatic parking meters on Main, Grove, and Foster Streets. The meters were successful and grossed three hundred and sixty dollars in its first week of operation. In 1951 the police station moved from the basement of city hall to a newly remodeled station located on West Foster Street. It was the site of the old Telephone Company. A major feature of the new station was a communications room with a signal desk, radio devices and a teletype machine. The police vehicles were equipped with two way radios and calls for service could be dispatched more effectively.
In 1961 the son of a retired Melrose Lieutenant by the name of Robert T. Lloyd was appointed Police Chief by the Board of Aldermen. Chief Lloyd served the Melrose Police Department for thirty years until he retired in 1991. He served in the Navy in World War II, and was an all star athlete at Melrose High School. Lloyd also played on the Boston Olympics Hockey team for several years. During the thirty years under Chief Lloyd, the police department was marked with numerous advancements in technology as well as the introduction to community policing. Modernized communication equipment such as two way radios and teletype systems were installed in the dispatch area. These added devices helped police officers get the job done more efficiently. In 1977 Chief Lloyd appointed the first youth officer to serve as a liaison between the police and the city’s youth. DARE drug abuse resistance education was introduced into the school system in 1989. As we know this program brings officers to the classrooms to speak to children about family issues, peer pressure and support, and conflict resolution.
As time has moved forward our equipment and safety measures have evolved. The Melrose Police Department used items such as the “blackjack”, iron claw, sap, and nightstick. Officers in the department now use oleoresin capsicum more commonly referred to as “OC”. The less lethal options give officers more options before resorting to lethal force. In 1995 the Melrose Police Department switched from wooden batons to the “ASP”, or expandable baton. Body armor was also introduced and widespread in the early 1990’s. Ballistic vests were supplied to the whole department in 1995.
In the early part of the century, police officers were handed a badge, a gun, and a club, and sent out to patrol the city streets. It was not uncommon for police officers in general, not only Melrose, to go through their whole police career without any formal training. During the 1950’s and 1960’s officers had to wait for two years while working the streets before they were sent for training to a formal police academy. From 1950 to 1978 the police academies varied in duration from six to sixteen weeks, usually living in barracks with heavy emphasis on physical training. Melrose Police officers now attend an academy that is either run by or guided by the MPTC Municipal Police Training Committee. The 1990’s brought a reform to recruit training, and the duration of the academies were twenty two to twenty six weeks in duration. The academy focused on at least six hours a day in the classroom studying subjects such as, criminal law, motor vehicle law, Constitutional Law, report writing, and community policing. They also receive extensive training with firearms, defensive tactics, and defensive driving. Melrose Police officers are far better trained than their predecessors ever were.
When Chief Lloyd retired in September of 1991, Melrose Police Lieutenant Frank Fiandaca was appointed as the next Police Chief. Fiandaca was a native of Melrose and was a member of the department since 1965 when he served as a reserve officer. Under Chief Fiandaca’s supervision the Melrose Police Department saw many changes. For the first time in history, all of the police records were computerized into an easily accessible network. The computer access also provides regional and national databases to help Melrose officers work with the surrounding communities to track stolen vehicle, find lost children, and pursue suspects. Laptop computers also known as Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs) were installed in the cruisers and had instant access to the police database. As part of the community policing program Chief Fiandaca instituted “Cops on Bikes”. This was a program that allowed police officers to patrol areas on bicycles allowing residents once again to get to know their police officers.
On July 1, 1998 Melrose Police Lieutenant Richard Smith became the Police Chief. Chief Smith came from Oak Bluffs Police Department located on Martha’s Vineyard in 1981. Chief Smith was also a graduate of the FBI training academy, so he brought a lot of knowledge and “new” philosophy to the Melrose Police Department like Chief Fiandaca, Smith was also a big believer in the community policing philosophy, he focused on developing goals that would take the police department and public into the new century.
In September of 1998 for the first time Melrose Police instituted a School Resource Officer. Under this program the officer was assigned to the Middle/High School building full time. The resource officer worked as a liaison between the students of Melrose and the police. Chief Smith made additional changes such as; breaking the city up into three patrol sectors, starting a full time traffic division, and assigned an officer solely as a domestic violence officer.
In addition to the regular police officers that are employed by the department Melrose also offers a Junior Police Program. The program started in the 1970’s under Chief Lloyd to foster a better relationship with the youth of the city. The program was open to both boys and girls between the ages of eight and fourteen. Another reason for this program was because the police department recognized a significant breakdown in respect for the law and order following the 1960’s. The program was supervised by Melrose Police Sergeant Warren Sheehan. But like anything else in this world the program came to a screeching halt in the mid 70’s due to budget constraints.
In 1982 the Melrose Police Department along with the Boy Scouts of America sponsored a Law Enforcement Explorer Post. It was initiated by Patrolman Tom Ehlers, with the support of Chief Lloyd. The program was open to high school aged men and women who were thinking about a career in Law Enforcement. Donald Young together with Officer Ehlers assisted in addressing a variety of law enforcement topics such as; the use of K9 dogs and their role in the police departments, traffic control, court procedures, firearm use, and generals laws. All of these topics were usually discussed at the post meetings. Additionally, members of the Explorers were given the opportunity to assist the police with traffic control during road races, as well as riding along in the cruiser with the police.
In 1951 the Melrose Police Traffic Supervisors came to life. The Traffic Supervisors sole mission and responsibility was to serve as school crossing guards. The position required that the women be married, between the ages of twenty and forty and live in the city. They worked three hours a day five days a week and were paid a dollar an hour.
One of Melrose’s most interesting police cases involved a man named William Elwell. On June 1, 1950 the police were called to Elwell’s aunt’s house and discovered a woman (Mrs. Tully) missing, but the house was soaked in blood. An eyewitness across the street saw said he saw Elwell leave the residence and that he may be headed for Maine. The Police department sent out a teletype and the Portland Maine Police were called. On June 2, 1950 the Portland Maine Police contacted Melrose and stated that they had William Elwell in custody and that he was covered in blood. Apparently Elwell dumped his aunt’s body in Maine and gave a full confession of the crime to the Melrose Police. Elwell was sentenced to death for the murder of his aunt.
In 1974 Officer were sent to Foster Street for a report of a women being injured. When the officers arrived they found a woman by the name of Catherine Griffin dead in her bedroom. Griffin had been stabbed and beaten to the point where she was unrecognizable. Melrose officer found her estranged husband John Griffin who admitted to another officer that he had just killed his wife. Griffin was sentenced to fifteen to twenty years in state prison
The Melrose Police Department has undergone many changes from technology, training, and equipment. Today the Melrose Police operate under Chief Michael Lyle. There is no position of Deputy Chief or Captain. The Police Department is comprised of Lieutenants, Sergeants, Detectives, and Patrolmen. Together these men and women form The Patrol Division, Traffic Division, and the Detective Bureau. Melrose is currently populated by 29, 000 residents. The Melrose Police Department is still split into three separate patrol sectors.
The Melrose Police Department has had one officer who has died in the line of duty. His name was Patrol Officer Joseph Martin. Martin died of a heart attack after pursuing 2 suspects on foot in 1969. When Martin returned to his patrol vehicle he complained of chest pains. Martin finished his shift, and returned home. As soon as he arrived home he asked his wife to take him to the hospital where he remained for six days until he died. Martin had been with the Melrose Police Department for ten years and was survived by his wife and two children.
-Courtesy of the book “Melrose – Past, Present and Future”