History of New Castle
New Castle County was formed
by a land grant for William Penn in 1676. The grant established the three
counties in Delaware (New Castle, Kent and Sussex). New Castle County was
broken up into eleven districts known as “hundreds.” Similarly the term
“township” was used in the state of Pennsylvania. A hundred described an area
where 100 white men lived. Boundaries:
12 miles north of the town of New Castle
South to Duck Creek
East to low water mark on the New Jersey shore
West to Mason-Dixon line
(refers to Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, surveyors for the King…
the area at the MD and PA state lines)
Constables enforced all laws within the county. They
derived their powers under the colonial form of government which was
administered by the Levy Court. The laws were formally known as the “Duke of
York Laws.” Duties:
Enforce the law
Organize posses for hot pursuit of violators of the law
Arrest without warrant for violations they observed
Take violators into custody and keep them under lock and key until
arraignment before a Judge of Peace who would travel throughout the area (could
Search of persons and homes
6’ wooden staff with a “Badge of the King” on it: symbol of
Constable’s power and authority, could not act without it the county paid for
the staff due to its importance
Early 1900s brought about the advent of the automobile.
There were numerous complaints from citizens regarding the unsafe operation of
the vehicles. Citizens groups also request police presence in rural areas and
increased growth is seen throughout the county.
March 14, 1911
County Rural Police is authorized by State Legislation.
- There were to be 2 officers for Brandywine Hundred (1 democrat, 1
- There were to be 2 officers for Christiana Hundred (1 democrat, 1
- Officers must live in the Hundred they police.
- Initially there was no compliance with the legislation for some unknown
- Requests by citizens eventually resulted in compliance with the law.
January 2, 1912
February 17, 1913
- Residents of Christiana Hundred urged appointment of
officers under the laws of Delaware.
- Daniel Knight was the first elected officer
- Salary: $730.00 a year ($2 a day).
- Daniel Knight was the first County Rural Police Officer,
which is the predecessor of today’s New Castle County Police.
- Assigned school crossing guard duties.
Later in the same year another county police agency is
formed. The agencies are separate in their duties but eventually come to
represent the beginnings of the New Castle County Police.
December 16, 1913
- County Highway Police is formed (a.k.a. County
Auto Police) with the appointment of two men. Not authorized by State
- Charles F. Bowers
- Fred T. Fleetwood
- 1 month police academy.
- Each man issued his own Harley Davidson Motorcycle
- Salary: $1,800 a year (approx. $4.93 a day).
- Continued on as a small force of Highway Patrolman (10
men) through the 20s.
- Issued equipment:
Shirts, trousers, leather
jackets, leggings, shoes, hat, tie, .38 caliber (6” barrel Colt Revolver, and
- Used key clocks throughout the county and would check in
once an hour.
- First 4 wheel patrol vehicle was a Model A Ford panel
- Truck used on midnight shift only.
- Used the Commissioner’s car from time to time
July 1, 1935 (The first attempt to abolish County
- Levy Court turned over all duties to the “newly formed”
State Highway Police (Delaware State Police).
- Five of the current County Highway Police Officers were
hired by the new agency.
The Highway Police were considered the primary police
force in the county until they were abolished. The Rural Police were still in
existence, and they were considered a token force. Now with the demise of the
Highway Police they took on a new role and became the rebirth of our
1937 – 1955
- Officers were added to Brandywine, Christiana and Mill
- Levy Court authorized additional police officers for the
- Authorized Rural Police authority in all of New Castle
- Levy Court is abolished and County Council is formed.
- New standards for the police department.
- Better supervision.
- Full police powers obtained however, the Delaware State
Police will be notified of accidents involving death or serious injury.
- F.O.P. was formed to represent the officers to the rank
- The department operated and maintained emergency
- Cells were maintained for temporary confinement of
- School crossing guard service was authorized by
- The remaining 10 Rural Police Officers were
"grandfathered" in to the new department.
- The first Director William J. Brophy was hired to
oversee police operations in April of 1967 (Salary: $12,000 a year).
- The police force grew from 10 to 20 after the first
police academy graduated from the Wilmington Police Department's Academy in
Sept. 1967; it grew from there with a couple of police academy classes each
- A new number was assigned to County Police - 737-7000
and was marked on all police vehicles along with the latest reflector tape and
"bar-lights" with "alley lights". Other department's referred to the vehicles
as "Circus Wagons" and said the high visibility wouldn't work... it would
alert the criminals to our arrival. Today, it has been proven to be the best
thing to have happened to police cars for safety.
- Systemized crime reporting system originated
- Colonel Ferguson of the Delaware State Police proposed
separate jurisdictions for the county and state police departments.
Newark, Delaware - Riot on Main Street
(Off. Rogers was hit by chemical bomb)
- Attorney General David Buckson supported the idea of
separate jurisdictions also.
Drug seizure - Detectives Riggs, Bailor and McNair
- Robert Snow is hired as the first black officer for New
Castle County Police.
- He also has the distinction of being the first black
officer to retire in 1988.
- Captain Buckmaster of the Delaware State Police is
assigned to work with the County Police as a consultant and liaison.
- Captain Henry E. Snedeker is appointed as Acting
Director of the New Castle County Police.
June 1970 (The second attempt to abolish County
- Buckmaster writes a report advocating a merger with the
Delaware State Police or the abolishment of the County Police.
- Much political controversy arose from the report. We
survived after citizen support is mustered on our behalf.
- A jurisdictional agreement was reached between the
County and State Police.
- Harvey D. Miller was the newly appointed Director of the
- Captain Henry E. Snedeker is named Chief of Police and
raised to the rank of Colonel.
- Snedeker is the first titled Chief of Police for New
- Jeannette Lloyd is hired as the first female police
officer in New Castle County and in the state of Delaware.
November 30, 1972
Paul J. Sweeney
- Patrolman Paul J. Sweeney became the first County
Officer to die in the line of duty. He sustained fatal injuries when his
patrol car was rammed from the rear and burst into flames in front of
Independence Mall. on Rt. 202, west of Wilmington.
Summer of 1974
- Sergeant Michael C. Larotonda appointed Chief of Police
- Assigned the first organizational structure of the
department which was broken down into two separated divisions.
April 1975 (the third attempt to abolish County
- County Police stop a vehicle doing “excessive speed” on
Basin Road. The driver stopped initially and then drove his car away.
- Larry Larson conducted the original car stop.
- George Williamson and John Jones were the officers
that stopped the vehicle the second time and took the driver into custody
- The driver was J. Donald Isaacs (Senate Pro-Tem) of
the DE Senate.
- It turned out that Isaac’s did not like waiting for
the officer to check his credentials.
- He was however prosecuted for the numerous traffic
violations he committed.
- In the newspaper the very next day, Isaacs stated that
he would bring legislation to do away with the County Police.
- House Bill 252 (HB 252) is introduced for a vote
in the State Legislature in Dover.
- This legislation eliminated our ability to investigate
major crimes in New Castle County.
- Introduced by Isaacs, Governor Tribit and McCullough
with the help of the State Police (as reported in the newspaper).
- Also introduced was a bill to eliminate all forms of
county governments in the state, by Representatives Billingsley and Seibel.
- During that period, County Officers were involved in a
fatal departmental shooting. Detectives from our agency had to be deputized
and sworn in as State Police Officers (one was George Freebery).
- An “incredible” amount of public support saved the
- The county administration under Executive Mel Slawik
aided our officers in this fight.
- The Attorney Generals office under Richard Weir aided in the
- The Fraternal Order of Police under President (Sgt.)
Anthony "Scoogie" Grello aided in the fight.
- 24 buses of County Employees, family members and area
residents petitioned in Dover at Legislative Hall.
- “Support Your County Police” bumper stickers were
- The law did pass, but was eventually repealed as it
proved to be unworkable.
- After HB252, a new jurisdictional agreement was created
between the State and County Police agencies. It closely resembles what it
- Isaacs lost his re-election bid later that year.
It should be noted that even today “Home Rule” does
not exist for the New Castle County Police. Wilmington, the State Police and
the various other agencies in the state are secure in their right to “be.” On
any given date, the elected officials in Dover could vote once again to abolish
the County Police.
Cpl. Mike Riley holds training class for hard to hear children.
- John T. McCool (retired Chief of Police for Wilmington
PD) is appointed as the new Director for the department.
- Colonel Michael Larotonda is reverted back to the rank
March 8, 1977
- Captain Robert R. Whayland is named as the new Chief of
- New Castle County Police is renamed to the Department of
Public Safety, taking over supervision of paramedics, crossing guards and all
emergency fire and police communications in the county.
- Nicholas M. Valiante (retired Inspector for Wilmington
PD) is appointed as the new Chief of Police.
- Director McCool resigns
- Chief Valiente serves as Chief and Acting Director.
- The Police Department Headquarters is moved from the old
County Engineering Building (Kirkwood Highway) to its current location on
Route 13 in Minquadale.
July 3, 1980
- Major John R. McCarnan is named Chief of Police.
- He has the distinction of being the first Chief named
under the Merit System.
- Valiente holds his Director position.
- 911 Communications Center is created, used to be
737-7000 to get police service.
- John T. McCool is re-appointed as the Director of the
October 12, 1981
- Mounted Police is implemented.
January 18, 1983
- McCool resigns and becomes the Chief Administrative
Officer (CAO) for the New Castle County Government.
- McCarnan is Chief and Acting Director.
- Saul Gladstone is appointed as the new Director of
- A K-9 Unit is created with the purchase of a bloodhound
- The K-9 unit expands with the purchase of a drug
- The department becomes the 88th Nationally
Accredited Police Agency.
- Enhanced 911 is created (E911). The “caller ID” for the
- 9mm handgun is issued to replace the dated revolver.
- Body Armor and a variety of other new equipment is
issued to officers. Upgrades from patrol vehicles to radios.
- Better training is provided in the Police Academy and in
- David d. Chillas is appointed as the Director of Public
- Captain Thomas P. Gordon is appointed Chief of Police.
- During his term the department experienced rapid growth.
- The department is recognized nationally for its domestic
violence and community policing policies.
- The department purchases 4 motorcycles for use in
- The New Castle County Police is no longer called the
Department of Public Safety. It returns to the New Castle County Police
Department, paramedics and the 911 Center are listed as a part of it.
- There were 267 police officers on the department.
- Captain Sharon Freebery is elevated to the rank of Major. She
is the first woman to hold that position within the department.
- There were 287 police officers on the department
- Colonel Gordon retires as the Chief of Police and is
elected as the New Castle County Executive.
- Major Sharon Freebery is named Chief of Police.
- She is the first woman to hold the position.
- Captain Janet K. Smith is elevated to the rank of
Major. She is the first minority to be elevated to that position in the
- Chief Freebery retires and is appointed as the Chief
Administrative Officer (CAO) for the county.
- Captain John L. Cunningham is named Chief of Police.
- During his term technology in the department grew at a
- Laptop computers in the vehicles
- Take home car policy
- The Police Academy is dedicated in Kimberton (Newark).
- Prior to that, academies were held in Claymont High
School, The Absalom Jones Community Center in Belvedere, The National Guard
Armory in New Castle, The DE State Fire School, The State Police Academy and
July 2003 - Present
- Lieutenant David F. McAllister is named the Chief of
Police for the department.
- He is the youngest Chief at the age of 34.
- In his term he added the new position of Lieutenant
Colonel and awarded same to Captain W. Scott McLaren.
- The authorized strength for the Police Department is
The Old Days
(point to the picture and left click your mouse to enlarge the pictures)
New Radar Unit 1965
1968 Det's. George Freebery & Terry Koston 1968
for the new Federal HR218 Law
Be a Cop If...
You have the bladder capacity of five people.
You have ever restrained someone and it was not a sexual experience.
You believe that 50% of people are a waste of good air.
Your idea of a good time is an armed robbery and a car chase.
You conduct a criminal record check on anyone who seems friendly towards
Discussing dismemberment over a meal seems perfectly normal to you.
You find humor in other people's stupidity.
You believe in the aerial spraying of Prozac and birth control pills.
You disbelieve 90% of what you hear and 75% of what you see.
You have your weekends off planned for a year.
You believe the government should require a permit to reproduce.
You believe that unspeakable evils will befall you if anyone says,
sure is quiet tonight."
A little "stick time" has nothing to do with baseball.
You refer to your favorite restaurant by the intersection at which it’s
You have ever wanted to hold a seminar entitled: "Suicide...getting it
right the first time."
You have ever had to put the phone on hold before you begin laughing
Your favorite hallucinogen is exhaustion.
You think caffeine should be available in IV form.
The person you're speaking with states, "That's not mine. I have no idea
how that got
You believe anyone who says, "I only had two beers" is going to blow more
than a .15.
You find out a lot about paranoia just by following people around.
People flag you down on the street and ask you directions to strange
You can discuss where you are going to eat with your partner
standing over a dead body.
You are the only person introduced at social gatherings by profession.
You walk into places and people think it's high comedy to seize their
shout, "They've come to get you Bill."
You do not see daylight from November until May.
People shout, "I didn't do it!" when you walk into a room and think
being hugely funny and original.
You've ever started a sentence with the phrase "We had this
body earlier. You should have seen it."
A week's worth of laundry consists of 5 T-shirts, 5 pairs of socks,
and 5 pairs
You've ever referred to Thursday as "My Monday".
You've ever written off guns and ammunition as a business deduction.
Anyone has ever said, "There are people killing other people out
you are here messing with me."
Anyone has ever said, "But officer, I am just barely passing through."
You believe that Mother is only half a word.
Anyone has ever said, "Robbery, Robbery, what's you mean Robbery."
When you are amazed at something that was told to you your
response is "Say what."
You have nightmares about something called Training days.
Your idea of going skiing is drawing dots and lines on a form for court.
And last but not least, you have calculated numerous times how
and money you are taking from the city by crapping on
instead of before coming to work. !