A Brief History of the Orleans Police Department, and it’s First Police Cruiser
Most folks don’t remember how the Orleans Police Department got its start or who the players were along the way. This should help.
Prior to 1946, the Town of Orleans had not organized police department. The chairman of the Board of Selectmen was the acting Chief of Police and there were many “Special” police officers and a constable.
There were no police cruisers and all serious accidents and crimes were investigated by the State Police, who at the time had a station, or barracks, in Orleans near the present Orleans/Eastham Rotary.At the annual town meeting in February of 1946, a standing vote, or as the 1946 town report stated a “Rising” vote, was taken to see if the Town would accept the provisions of Section 97, Chapter 41, contained in Volume 1, Chapter 1, 132A, of the General Laws of Massachusetts, known as the Tercentenary edition, which provides for the establishment of a Police Department under the direction of the Selectmen. The vote was 45 in favor and 38 opposed. Fortunately, it did not require a two thirds vote, just a simple majority.
The next article was voted by a voice vote to raise and appropriate a sum not to exceed $1,200.00 to purchase a police cruiser. Chace Chevrolet in Chatham was the successful bidder and a 1946 Chevrolet Fleetmaster 4 door sedan was purchased. The total sum including a combination lights/siren for the roof and a police radio, along with lettering of the cruiser came to the grand sum of $1,247.60.
Scroll down below the gallery for lots more background and history.
Clarence Vanesse, a former state trooper, was hired as the town’s first police chief and he began his duties on May l, of 1946. Chief Vanesse served for nearly 2 years and left to become the Park Commissioner for the Town of Orleans. On March 1 of 1948, Joseph W. “Jack” Higgins, who was the town’s first patrolman, became the Chief of Police.
In late 1949, Chief Higgins resigned to take a position with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation of Barnstable County. Ray Anstess became Acting Chief and then was named Chief in early 1950. His tenure lasted until March of 1951 when Jack Higgins again became the Chief of Police until 1954, when he accepted a position with the then Hyannis Cooperative bank (now Fleet Bank) and retired as president of the bank.
In 1954, Patrolman Chester A. Landers became Chief, a position he would hold until his retirement in March of 1984. At that time, Lieutenant Donald B. Walsh rose to the rank of Chief of Police and retired 4 years later. On July 5, 1988, William R. Stone became our present Police Chief.
Over the years, many patrolmen were appointed and one of them, John C. Urbanski, became the first Sergeant on the police department. In 1969, Sergeant Walsh was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, another first for Orleans. Another first was the appointment of a full time female police officer and have since added a second.
It had long been a dream of the author of this epistle, to find a 1946 Chevrolet Fleetmaster 4 door sedan to restore the splendor of the original cruiser.
After netting approximately, $2,300.00 with a raffle, the money was turned over to the Orleans Police Relief Association and in December of 1995, we became the owners of a two tone green 1946 Chevrolet Fleetmaster 4 door sedan.
With the Help of Contractor Warren Quinn, we traveled to Worcester and loaded the vehicle onto his flatbed trailer and brought it to Orleans. After many hours of scraping and sanding with the help of Officer Kevin Wells, Recon Auto Salon owner Dwayne Dewitt, his brother James, and his father Jim, now an Orleans Selectman, and Sergeant Richard Jones, the sanding was complete and 90% of the chrome removed, some of which was sent out for re-chroming.
Another project was to change the 6 volt system over to 12 volt. Thanks to donations from Capewide Auto Supply, Orleans Auto Supply and NAPA of Orleans, Russ Cabral of Nauset Auto Service volunteered his time and expertise and the changer-over was completed.
Two other huge donations were given and deeply appreciated. They were Providence Lacquer of Hyannis who donated all the paint and Dwayne Dewitt who gave us his shop and painted the vehicle for us. It is always very risky to mention donors for fear of leaving someone out, but if I do, it was not intentional.
When we were running out of money, letters were sent to the business community requesting donations. Even though they are constantly asked to donate to many worthy causes, they came through beautifully. The “Patron” donors ($100.00) were Hearth n’ Kettle Restaurant, Fog Cutter Restaurant, Windmill Liquors and Nauset Optical. The “Sponsor” donors ($50.00) were Cape Cod Truck, Gil’s Automotive, Bob’s Mobil, Brownie’s Texaco, Orleans Bowling Alley and Nonnie’s Country Kitchen.
The end of June saw the vehicle in the paint shop and we hurriedly put the chrome back on, and then took it to Tony at Miscellaneous Signs in Brewster where he donated his time and materials to letter the car.
Warren Quinn then came through again and transported the cruiser to AMI Municipal vehicles where they installed the light/siren and the radio and did some other electrical work, all donated.
In the evening of July 3, Russ Cabral opened his Nauset Auto repair shop to us and assisted in a variety of last minute things and then the next morning, proudly led the parade with Retired Chiefs Landers and Walsh as special guests.
The outside is now complete, but the interior needs much work. With the aid of possibly another raffle, we will be able to restore the interior to match its exterior.