A museum has been built to preserve, display, and educate the community on the interesting history of the Sudbury area law enforcement. . The following summary is combined information from the museum and a book on Sudbury policing entitled "12 O'Clock and All's Well: A Pictoral History of Law Enforcement in the Sudbury Area " by E.G Higgins.
For more information on museum hours and tours or to purchase a digital copy of "12 O'Clock and All's Well," visit our museum page!
Part I: 1885 - 1927
In 1885, with three hundred residents, Sudbury became a village with an elected reeve and council for McKim Township. Among the first framed buildings were a court house and jail, together with a house for the jailer, erected at the rear of the present court house on Elm Street.
In addition to the jailer, a number of constables served the community and the outlying areas. Cst. John Carmichael was one of these. Appointed in 1890, he served until 1896 when he was then appointed provincial constable for the village of Wahnapitai. The Sudbury Journal refered to him as Township Constable.
Since Sudbury had the necessary population to be considered a "police village," a local constable was appointed. Cst. Frank Gagne was hired in this capacity in 1891.
Calamity fell in 1892, when the jail, courthouse, and jailer's residence went up in flames. Plans for a new and more impressive courthouse, jail, and jailer's apartment were undertaken. Tenders were called to erect a two-story brick building, 65 by 81 feet, on a stone foundation. The ground floor contained thirteen jail cells for prisoners, in addition to the apartment for the jailer. The second floor consisted of the courtroom, judge's room, jury room, and rooms for the use of the jailer. Outside, within the 12 foot high fenced 5 acre area, the jailer had his charges busy clearing the grounds and planting a large garden.
By 1913, the town had a population of 6,500 and a police force of six men. In April 1913, Sudbury's MPP Charles McCrea announced that the Board of Trade were successul insecuring a prison farm for the District of Sudbury and that the Ontario Government had placed an amount of $20,000 in estimates for that purpose. The objective was that able-bodied men would work on the farm to earn their keep instead of serving out their sentences in the District Jail. The site selected included the Township of Laura and approximately half of the Townships of Burwash and Servos. The farm operated as a minimum security prison until 1975.
Sudbury's first recorded hanging occurred in 1916 when Wasyl Daybuk stood trial for the murder of Mary Korenluk of Copper Cliff on the night of January 11th. The evidence from Daybuk's confession and trial showed that while under the influence of alcohol, the prisoner had attacked Korenluk with an axe. The Grand Jury returned after 30 minutes with a verdict of guilty of murder and sentence of death was passed.
During World War One, the police acquired their first motor vehicle, a model T Ford. This was replaced by a 1919 Chevrolet which may also have served as a patrol wagon.
On 11 April 1920, Chief Constable John Brown's letter of resignation was tendered to the town council meeting. In a statement to the Sudbury Star, the Chief, whose salary had been raised to $2,000, argued that his reasons for resigning was that he felt the public had not been appreciative or co-operative in an honest attempt to better conditions in Sudbury.
The new chief hired was F. Fyvie from Cornwall.
One of the aftermaths of the war was a sharp drop in the market for nickel and copper. Sudbury had a serious depression from 1920 to 1921 as the city's financial situation deteriorated. About $1,000 a week was being spent on relief by the municipality. Civic salaries were cut by 10% and the housing commission was forced to stop building because of vacant houses. The town was feeding 200 unemployed persons with a total population of 9,072.
An article entitled, "Homeless Men Seek Shelter in the Police Station" found in the March 29th issue of the Sudbury Star describes the situation in detail,
"Every night the police station is jammed with unemployed men, just in from the camps seeking shelter for the night. Now less than
55 were booked into the Police station and about a dozen of these were sent to the District Jail as there was no room for them in the downtown cells. At night time the police station is the scene of activity. In the daytime employment agencies were crowded. This morning there were 350 men at the Government Employment Bureau on Durham Street. Four men who had been arrested for sleeping in a boxcar at the C.N.R. station stated that they had slept at the police station one night but preferred the boxcar to the cement floor of the jail."
By March 1923, the police force had been reduced to seven men as an economic measure. Consequently, time off, including a half day off every two weeks worked and annual holidays of two weeks for men with over one year's service, had been cancelled. The town was now being patrolled by two constables on night and two during the day, however with illnesses, sometimes only one constable was on beat at times. Chief Fyvie was not one to give up; when his effort failed to gain an increase in the force and better working conditions for his men, he sent a letter to counsel asking for help in the form of a major cleanup of the town. The reaction of the community was so strong and vocal that on May 12th during an afternoon council meeting, a recommendation by the police committee, composed of Mayor Arthur and councilors Fenton, Vincent and Lauzon, was that the Chief be given authority to add two more men to the force. This was was passed without comment.
Chief Fyvie wasted no time in deploying his increased force in a drive to clean up the town. Within two weeks, nine convictions were registered for major breaches of the Ontario Traffic Act, and two raids on disorderly houses resulted in conviction of two inmates and five found-ins on the premises.
Part II: 1928 - 1959
In 1928, after a very short term by Jack Brown, David Louden and his force of sixteen men were responsible for law and order. Yet again, a determined effort was made to clean up the town.
The largest cell at the police headquarters was located on Elgin Street and held ten people. It was filled to capacity every night, including Sunday. Saturday night was the busiest time for the bootleggers, brothels, and the occasional gambling joint. The police picked this time for their raids; the whole force would split into two teams, lock the police office, and make four or five raids in the course of the evening. Prisoners were often transported to the cells by hailing a team member and a wagon that was passing by.
The first stop and go signal in town was installed in 1928 at the corner of Elm and Durham Streets. The following year, for the first time, the Police Department purchased two vehicles. They operated from the station in response to telephone calls. One of them, a bluish grey 1929 Wells Fargo, served as the "paddy wagon."
During World War One, the first Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) detachment was established in Sudbury, followed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in 1931.
Policemen were still patrolling beats on foot or bicycle. Retired Inspector Wilson recalls that Cst. Conron, later Chief of Police in Capreol, was assigned to bicycle patrol. He so hated this duty that he frequently kicked the chain on the bike and broke it so that he could return to his duties on foot.
As a result of improving conditions, the chief's report, and a population increase to 26,315, the police commission recommended that four additional men be hired, new uniforms be provided, new revolvers issued, and a one-way radio transmitter be purchased with receivers for the two police vehicles. At this time, the high collared tunics were changed to V-necks and the Sam Browne belt and holster were issued for the first time. Prior to this, officers carried their guns in the hip pocket. A new car was also purchased under the arrangement that the Ford car would be turned in each year, together with $275 for a new one.
In 1937, Chief Louden obtained the first radio equipment. It consisted of a one-way, ten-watt, Marconi broadcasting unit and a receiver in each of the two patrol cars. The chief could send orders but the policeman on patrol would have to telephone back to the station! This situation continued until 1944. After much discussion about the $6,200 cost of a Marconi 250 watt, frequency modulation, two way radio system for the three cruisers then in use, the Council finally agreed to the recommendation of the Police Commission that it be purchased.
In August 1940, Sudbury became the first city to install parking meters. The city installed 288 parking meters in the downtown section. The parking fees were one penny for twelve minutes or five cents for an hour. A constable emptied the meters weekly. Shortly afterwards, he was provided with the first motorcycle purchased by the force to complete this task.
During the Second World War, a number of men were added to the force to bring the strength to 30, where it remained until 1946. This was difficult to achieve because approximately half of the 19 men on strength at the end of 1937 left to join the services. Not all returned.
The end of the Second World War was a memorable time in Sudbury. Victory in Japan (VJ) Day was celebrated enthusiastically, so much so that some of the celebrants got out of hand and lit a huge bonfire at the corner of Elm and Durham. As the crowd grew more enthusiastic, anything that would burn was thrown on the fire, including a boat that was being raffled off by a local club. The police and firemen were called and a melee developed. Bystanders attempted to take the high pressure hose from a fireman and he suffered a serious gash on the hand. Three police officers were injured; firemen were ordered to turn their hoses on a group of celebrants who broke into and looted the liquor store. While the fire department added a new civic duty to their record, $40,000 damage was done and twenty-eight people were arrested.
In 1947, a $25,000 addition to the Police Station and fire hall was approved and council sanctioned an employee pension plan. That winter hydro was rationed and stores were permitted only one light per window during Christmas time. Council passed a new by-law that increased the work of the police: people living in the Kingsmount subdivisions were prohibited from keeping chickens, pigeons, goats, or swine, and could only have two dogs per household.
The Sudbury Police employed tear gas for the first time on January 28th, 1950, when they received a call from a distraught mother that her mentally ill, 22-year-old son had become violent and barricaded himself in his room. He had thrown the furniture out of a second story window and was armed with an eleven-inch dagger. Finally, tear gas was fired through the second story window and the youth was arrested as the gas forced him downstairs.
Part III: 1960 - Present
Women Hired For Bylaw Enforcement
In early 1963, Terry Rivest and Gayle Beaulieu were assigned to the city police traffic department to enforce parking meter bylaws. Both women underwent a two-week training program to learn how to work the parking meters, issue tickets, and deal with irate motorists. They were the first in northern Ontario to carry out these duties and allowed traffic officers to confine themselves to duties more closely related to their training.
New Police Station
At long last, in 1967, as a Centennial Project, the Police Department obtained a new building located at 200 Larch Street. The official opening ceremony was held on Wednesday, September 27th 1967. This project cost an estimated $650,000.
1973 Crime of the year
A bizarre murder-revenge plot was the major crime of the year. A parcel addressed to Mrs. Michel Jean from Quebec was picked up at the Val Therese post office by her husband. Ten minutes later, a massive explosion destroyed his car in the parking lot of Our Lady of Hope Separate School in Val Caron and spread debris in a hundred-yard radius, damaging cars on either side and blowing out windows in the school. The body was found beside the car. The investigation that followed produced evidence that dynamite had been used. Suspicion was directed towards Ernie Jean, no relation, who had an intimate liaison with the deceased prior to the latter's marriage. Police investigated the source of the box for the explosive, how it was sent in the mail from Quebec, and who established an alibi for Ernie Jean. These details, together with the peculiar paper in which the parcel had been wrapped, which was part of a paper tablecloth used in the farm house they had shared at one time, were sufficient to convict him and he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
In 1976, with an estimated cost of $500,000, the new electronic communications centre was installed at the Larch Street headquarters. This technological advancement allowed every officer on duty in the 1,080 square miles of Regional Sudbury to be in instant two-way contact with his base and other officers. Messages were confidential as the equipment included a scrambler. A third frequency enabled radio communication with any police force in the province. In addition, the centre was tied into the Canadian Police Information Centre in Ottawa.
The latest electronic device added to the array of equipment used was a radar "speed gun," which resembled a small movie camera. It provides maximum flexibility of operation since it can be held in the hands or mounted on a motorcycle or patrol car. The officer pointed the device at a vehicle, pulled a switch and obtained an instant digital calculation of the speed. The machine measured speed up to 160 kilometres per hour.
The uniform worn by police officers today evolved in the mid 1980s. Around this time, the cross draw holster was replaced with the "boss" holster, which was worn high on the hip with the gun butt to the rear. To wear this style, the hip length tunic was changed to an-Eisenhower style waist-length jacket. This holster and jacket were the start of change that evolved into the uniform worn by today's police officers.
The Police "Buddies Program" was introduced and became very successful. Police officers took an active part in the program sponsored by the Sudbury District Housing Authority. Children ages 5 to 8 met police officers on a friendly basis.
On January 1st, 1993, the Municipal Freedom of information and Protection of Privacy Act came into effect governing all provincial institutions including police services. This act dictated that information recorded by the police service should be made available to the public and exemptions from that right to access should be limited and specific.
In 1997, the Rescission Network, an updated, state-of-the-art radio dispatch system was installed at the police station. The system was capable of creating 112 different categories of "talk groups," with a virtually unlimited number of radios. Displays screens instantly identified what radio was being transmitted. An officer in distress could use portable radios and activate emergency buttons on the cruiser. Such activation gave the radio in question "hands free" transmission capabilities and alerted headquarters with a number of warning devices.
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