Then & Now: Montgomery County Police Department Motorcycle Unit
This blog entry is posted today to commemorate the anniversary of the Montgomery County Police Department. It was 98 years ago on July 4, 1922 that the MCPD was first established, consisting of five officers and a Chief. Each of the officers was issued a police motorcycle for routine patrol duties and was allotted $300.00 a year for the upkeep of their motor. Thus, the Montgomery County Police Department was formed upon the foundation of the motorcycle.
Montgomery County Police Department Motorcycle Unit (THEN): Posing in front of Reed Brothers Dodge on July 4, 1922 Chief Charles Cooley, center, and his men of the first mounted unit of the Montgomery County Police Force, were on their first day of duty. For several years, since there was no police station, the officers would meet for “roll call” on the steps of the Red Brick Courthouse in Rockville at 2:00 p.m. every day to let each other know they were alive and well. Chief Cooley was given the privilege of a Model T Ford. The chief was paid $1,800 a year (the chief now gets $112,564) while the officers got $1,500. Each of the officers was issued a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a .38 Smith & Wesson handgun, a black jack, law book and was allotted $300.00 a year for the upkeep of their motorcycle. Jones patrolled Silver Spring, Rodgers the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area and Burdine, Clagett and Gaither the Upper County areas.
The county’s population in the early 1920s was just 35,000 (it’s now more than 800,000). Much of the county was farmland, which accounted for the thefts of livestock. It also was the Prohibition era, when bootlegging and moonshine still factored routinely on an officer’s shift.
The officers worked 14 hours at night, 10 hours in the day, with two days off every two weeks. But they were on call at all times. Since there was no mobile radio contact (the first one-way radio system was installed in cars in the early 1930s), the officers tended to hang around the courthouse or a local firehouse that had a phone.
One of the officers came up with the idea of placing a flashing red beacon light on a pole atop the Rockville courthouse. When flashing, it would alert police that they had a call or were wanted at the office. In 1927, similar lights were used at district stations in Silver Spring and Bethesda.
Montgomery County Police Department Motorcycle Unit (NOW): Currently, the Motor Unit consists of forty-two full-time motor officers who make up six decentralized motor squads. The squads are assigned to each of the six district police stations and are under the command of a sergeant. The primary missions of the squads are traffic enforcement, collision reduction, pedestrian safety and maintaining the orderly flow of traffic in the county. The squads are also involved in special details to include, dignitary and Presidential escorts, funeral escorts, the Montgomery County Fair, the Tiger Woods Golf Tournament and numerous foot races and parades.
The Motor Unit currently fields twenty-eight 2007 and 2008 Harley-Davidson Police motorcycles of which four to five are assigned to each of the district stations. The squads at each station are divided into a day work and evening shift and those officers share motorcycles as necessary. The current work period for the squads is eight hour shifts, Monday through Friday. The current work period for the squads is eight hour shifts, Monday through Friday.
The Unit also fields a Competition Team which participates in events that include both the United States and Canada. The team has received numerous awards in both the individual and team categories at these events. The Unit will also be hosting the Mid- Atlantic Police Motorcycle Safety Competition in Gaithersburg, Maryland in September of 2010.
The Montgomery County Department of Police Motor Unit continues its traffic safety mission today as well as the furtherance of police motorcycle safety and awareness throughout Montgomery County and the State of Maryland.
Thank you to the entire Montgomery County Police Department for all you do in keeping our community safe. Salutes!
Sources: “Montgomery County, Two Centuries of Change” by Jane C. Sween
Montgomery County Police Department
Montgomery County Maryland Almshouse aka Poor Farm
A Poor Farm in Montgomery County? Yep. Although a lot of people have never heard of “poor farms,” they were once common across the nation. Various terms have been used to describe the “house for the poor,” and often the titles were unique to the part of the country where the house was located.
This is the Almshouse (aka Poor Farm). The 50-acre tract which includes the pauper’s graveyard was once part of the Montgomery County Poor Farm, established in 1789 as a place where the poor and homeless went to live, work, and, if they died, to be buried.
At the time, the farm was located well beyond the bounds of what was then the town of Rockville. But growth eventually caught up with the property. The farm house was razed in 1959 to make way for a county jail, and another chunk of property was dedicated for I-270. At least 75 graves were identified during a 1983 survey of the property by state archeologists, but according to George R. Snowden, funeral director, there may be as many as 500 people buried in the potter’s field.
Although the county’s poor farm existed for almost 170 years, virtually nothing has been documented about it, said Jane Sween, a librarian with the Montgomery County Historical Society. The property was deeded to the county in 1789 and expanded in 1825. After the Civil War, the farm’s almshouse was rebuilt, and until it was razed a century later it was home to an average of 40 indigent people, she said. The state paid for burial but did not pay for grave markers or upkeep on the property.
The Montgomery County Poor Farm Cemetery is no longer in existence. The National Park Service conducted an archaeological dig in 1987, which resulted in the removal of 38 bodies to Parklawn Cemetery in Rockville, Maryland. Montgomery County sold the land to a private developer.
Darnestown Presbyterian Church Dedicated On This Day in 1858
This special post doesn’t have anything to do with Reed Brothers Dodge, but it does have a lot to do with it’s founder, Lewis Reed.
In 1855, the Darnestown Presbyterian Church, which is located at the corner of Turkey Foot and Darnestown Roads, was founded by the generous donation of three acres of land by John Dufief. The church was constructed of stone which was hauled from the local quarry by the men of the congregation. The completed church was dedicated on this day, May 22, 1858. The iron fence along the cemetery at the back of the church was taken from the Rockville Courthouse.
Then, in the late 1860s, Andrew Small, a friend of the Church, granted sums of money to be used to building the parsonage (1868) and to establish and build a private academy (1867). The church was renovated in 1897 and then again in 1953.
Lewis Reed was a well-known photographer in the county and many of his early photographs are now part of the Montgomery County Historical Society photo archives.
Maryland State Archives
Lewis Reed Photos: Rockville’s First Water Tower
This 1906 photograph taken by Lewis Reed depicts Rockville Maryland’s very first water tower. I wanted to share this photograph, because it offers a visual history for its role in the development of public utilities in the City of Rockville. My grandfather picked up the hobby of photography even before automobiles were around. He was a well-known photographer in the county and many of his early photographs are now part of the Montgomery County Historical Society photo archives.
The pipestem tower was an element of the 1897 pumping station known as the “Rockville Electric Lights and Water Works,” located in Rockville Park and the future Croydon Park. In the 1890s, Rockville grew both as a resort and as a town. With substantial residential appeal, the need for services grew. In about 1899, Rockville got its first water tower at a cost of about $20,000. Its construction signaled the dawn of local municipal water service. Prior to the tower’s construction water in the city was primarily drawn from private wells. Concern for water quality in the 1880s led to the decision to develop a municipal system. The stand pipe was a typical shape for a water tower at the turn of the century. From this high point, water could be piped throughout the town. The chimney stack originally extended to a height of 50’, as documented in the Sanborn maps 1908, 1915.
Built in 1879, the Pump House at Croydon Park is a historic building in Rockville and the site of the first municipal water supply. Once known as the “Rockville Electric Lights & Water Works.” the building was the City’s first public water system and supplier of electricity for street lights and private homes.
National Register of Historic Places, Rockville Pumping Station
July 4, 1922: First MCPD Posing in Front of Reed Brothers Dodge
This blog entry is posted today to commemorate the anniversary of the Montgomery County Police Department. It was 93 years ago on July 4, 1922 that the MCPD was first established. In those days, Montgomery County was farm country, sparsely populated, automobiles sharing dirt roads with horse-drawn wagons. But it was changing into a proper suburb, and there needed to be a police department.
Posing in front of Reed Brothers Dodge on July 4, 1922 Chief Charles Cooley, center, and his men of the first mounted unit of the Montgomery County Police Force, were on their first day of duty. (click image to enlarge)
The MCPD consisted of five officers and a Chief. Each of the officers was issued a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a .38 Smith & Wesson handgun, a black jack, law book and was allotted $300.00 a year for the upkeep of their motorcycle.
Source: Montgomery County, Two Centuries of Change by Jane Sween