The Gorham Police Department as we know it today has evolved from a part-time Constable Service that provided police services to the citizens of Gorham.
Gorham Constable Service 1952
The last Police Chief under the constable service was Willis Carll. He was appointed to the position of Police Chief in 1958 and held that position until 1964. Chief Carll was a part-time employee and headed a force of part-time officers.
In his annual report submitted in February of 1958, he stated that "The present Constable force operates very similar to our Fire Department in that our members have other occupations and are paid for the hours actually worked". He went on to say that the patrols consisted of one or two men in their private cars and that they had logged over 4,563 miles patrolling and answering complaints.
In his last resport for fiscal years 1963 / 1964, Chief Carll reported that they brought 19 cases before the Municipal Court, handled 26 accidents, and brought numerous juvenile delinquents before Juvenile Court.
Chief Carll - Gorham's First Cruiser
At the Annual Town Meeting on March 9, 1964, it was moved and seconded that the Town appropriate the sum of $15,000.00 for the support of the Police Department, and to instruct the Selectmen to employ a full-time Police Chief, and said chief be a qualified graduate of the State Police Academy or its equivalent, and that employment be effective on or before April 1, 1965. This motion was past by a vote of 206 in the affirmative and 112 in the negative.
On April 12, 1964, Stephen Wentworth became Gorham's first full-time Chief of Police. Steve had been a member of the State Polce for twenty years and prior to that he had worked on the Portland Police Department for three years. When intereviewed about his new job, he said that it would be on of "Challenge and Responsibility". He further stated that he had his work cut out for him and he would welcomed it.
Chief Stephen Wentworth
Three weeks after his appointment as Chief, another newspaper article stated that although he was still working without uniforms and was still awaiting delivery of the police cruiser, he was busy handling calls. He had investigated three missing persons, three early morning calls of police matters, several early morning flase alarms and a larceny case. He also had several calls of speeders and drag racing, but he turned those calls over to the State Police because he was not going to go chasing speeders with his wife's old car.
On July 31, 1964, Chief Wentworth resigned as Chief and returned to the State Police.
Cortland Tice was hired in the fall of 1964 to replace Chief Wentworth. Prior to coming to Gorham, Cort had been the Chief of Police in Washingtonville, New York.
Chief Cortland Tice
Chief Tice was impressed with the setup, but saw the need for staff. At this point in time, the Police Station consisted of one room on the second floor of the old fire station on South Street.
Within the first year, Chief Tice was able to hire two full-time police officers. Charlie Turner was hired in April of 1965 and Don Colello was hired in September of 1965. In 1965, the police handled 117 accidents, handled 480 complaints, made 39 arrests and issued 151 summonses.
In 1972, the Department consisted of the Chief, 1 Sergeant, 4 Patrolman, and 1 dispatcher. In 1972, the Department handled 138 accidents, handled 816 complaints, made 182 arrests and issued 449 summonses. During July of 1972, a teletype machine was installed at the police station. This connected Gorham Police with other police agencies throughout the country as well as the NCIC computer in Washington D.C.
In the fall of 1974, Chief TIce left Gorham and Edmund Hagan was hired s the next Chief of Police. Ed had been with the Bath Police Department for 15 years and held the rank of Sergeant when he left to come here. Chief Hagan was quoted as saying that "jails were the last result in police work". He went on to say that in police work, "our job is 90% prevention". The other "10% falls to the courts and the legal system as the last step when all other measures fail". It was at this time that the police station moved into the new facility on Main Street. The Gorham Police Department currently had a full-time staff of six officers and four dispatchers.
Chief Edmund Hagan
During Chief Hagan's tenure, six additional officers were added to the department as well as a Sergeants position and two Corporal positions and a part-time detective for a total staff of twelve police officers and five full-time dispatchers.
For the fiscal year 1984/1985, the Department responded to 677 accidents, made 169 arrests, and investigated 76 burglaries, 90 thefts, 15 assaults, 9 arsons, and 1 homicide.
In 1985, Chief Hagan retired and David Kurz was hired as his replacement. David had been with our department for eight years and had held the rank of Corporal before his appointment to Chief.
Upon becoming Chief, Kurz instituted a high visibility patrol program believing that with high visibility of the officers on the street, tha the criminal element would not come to Gorham to commit crimes because of the fear of being caught. This was a success as property crimes were reduced by 34% in that first year.
In 1990, Chief Kurz resigned as Chief to take a position as Assistant Director for Maine Drug Enforcement. He has since left there and took a position as Chief of Police for the Durham, NH Police Department. During Chief Kurz tenure, he created the position of Lieutenant and two Sergeants positions, eliminated the two Corporal positions and created a full-time Detective's position. This brought the department numbers to 15 full-time officers and 5 full-time dispatchers.
Edward Tolan became our next Chief in January 1991. Chief Tolan had been a Captain with the Cape Elizabeth Police Department and had worked there since 1974. Under Chief Tolan's leadership, the department added one addtional officer and created a full-time School Resource Officer. Chief Tolan also hired a full-time administrative assistant. In 1991, the department brought on line the first computerized record system for the department.
Chief Edward Tolan
During fiscal year 1994/1995, the department investigated 504 accidents, issued 2594 summonses, made 381 arrests, and handled 10,022 calls for service.
In 1995, Chief Tolan resigned taking a position as Chief of Police with the Falmouth, Maine Police Department.
In September 1995, Ronald Shepard was appointed as Chief of Police. Chief Shepard has served with the Gorham Polce Department since 1972.
Under Chief Shepard, the current staffing for the Department consists of 23 sworn officers and two civilian employees. The staffing includes 1 Chief, 1 Lieutenant, 5 Sergeants, 2 Detectives, 2 School Rescource Officers, 1 Traffic Enforcement / Animal Control Officer, 1 DEA Drug Task Force Officer, 10 Patrolman, 1 Administrative Assistant and 1 Detective's Office Assistant.
In 2007, the Gorham Police Department handled 16,303 calls for service, made 423 arrests, issued 2,960 summonses and warnings and investigated 544 accidents.