1920's - The History Begins

In the early years of this century, New Jersey was making a limited effort to provide protection for its rural inhabitants. This effort was wholly dependent upon the county sheriff and his constables.

Based on a political system of election and appointment, there were varying degrees of success. Demands for a uniformly well trained rural police force increased in direct proportion to an increasing population and crime rate.

Legislation for this purpose was first introduced in 1914 and for several years thereafter. There was some hard fought opposition to this legislation from those who feared a police state or strike breakers and a wave of public sentiment surged against it.

However, at the time, the State Police movement had become general throughout the country with thirteen states having already organized such a force. The State Chamber of Commerce and the New Jersey Grange continued their efforts in behalf of the legislation.

Finally, on March 29, 1921, the State Police Bill was passed into law. Senator Clarence I. Case, who introduced the bill, is known as the “Father of the State Police.”

On July 1, 1921, Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, was appointed as the first Superintendent of the State Police by Governor Edward I. Edwards.

Schwarzkopf was commissioned to organize the first training class. Competitive examinations were held for the purpose of selecting the type of man desired for this service.

Sixteen hundred men, between the ages of twenty-two and forty, made application for the one hundred and twenty positions allowed by the law.

Out of the total number of applicants, only two hundred and twenty-seven received a passing mark. From this number, one hundred and sixteen men reported to Sea Girt on September 1, 1921. Of this number, eighty-one officers and troopers completed the rigorous three month training program.

On December 1, 1921, the new troopers were administered the oath of office and on December 5, 1921, in a blinding snowstorm, started out on horseback and motorcycle to their posts throughout the state.

Colonel Schwarzkopf’s military background greatly influenced all areas of the newly formed organization. During training olive-drab denims, courtesy of the Army surplus store, served their purpose very well. As the end of training approached, the need for a distinctive uniform became a priority.

Schwarzkopf outfitted the new troopers in what was standard from 1921-1924. That original uniform consisted of a Stetson hat, brown boots, olive britches, gray shirt, Jersey blue tie, navy wool blouse and Sam Browne belt and holster. The belt forced the wearer to “brace” like a West Pointer, which was exactly why it was chosen by Schwarzkopf.

When the State Police began operation in 1921, the force of new troopers was divided into two troops. Troop A was headquartered at the Raleigh Hotel in Hammonton and covered South Jersey with substations in rented quarters at seven locations. Troop B was headquartered at the Imperial Hotel in Netcong and covered North Jersey with five substations. A platoon headquarters was established in Freehold with three substations. This was the forerunner of a third troop, Troop C, which was established in 1928 to patrol Central Jersey.

The first modes of transportation consisted of sixty-one horses, twenty motorcycles, one car, and one truck. The horse remained the principal means of transportation throughout the twenties.

Toward the end of the decade, more cars and motorcycles were added as the demand for increased services in the traffic patrol and investigative field heralded a change in the basic patrol function.

It did not take long for the State Police to find plenty of work to do, either enforcing the laws or rendering service to the citizens. As they become known, the demands became so great that, even by working day and night, they were unable to handle all the situations. The need for more men was imperative. To meet this demand, Colonel Schwarzkopf requested an additional troop.

In early 1922, a Headquarters troop, composed of specialists, four substations, and a training school, was established at Wilburtha, five miles from Trenton, bringing the total authorized strength up to 140. The second State Police class of fifty recruits started training at the new school on April 1, 1922, and on July 1, forty-two men were sent out to fill the vacancies on the road.

During this time, a new system of operation was instituted by Colonel Schwarzkopf. Formerly the state had been policed by thirty-seven substations including the three Troop Headquarters.

At some of these stations, one or two men were responsible for the policing of a large area. Groups of four or five stations composed a zone, and a noncommissioned officer was in charge of each zone. The area covered by the noncommissioned officer, in many cases, was too great and prevented him from effectively supervising the operations of the men.

To more effectively supervise the men, the number of stations was reduced from thirty-seven to twenty-three and a noncommissioned officer, either a corporal or sergeant, was placed in charge of each station. He was directly responsible to his superior officers at Troop Headquarters for the actions and work of his men.

All the activities of those stations were documented on a station record. The commissioned officers of the Troops were responsible for the crime conditions in their area and the uniform operation of all stations in their Troop. It was their responsibility to inspect the stations at least once a week.

This period also saw the beginning of the State Police as a service agency for local police departments, with the establishment of a Fingerprint and Criminal Records Bureau as well as an Auto Theft Bureau. These facilities were the first moves away from the concept of a purely rural police force, toward one which could be of immense service to all law enforcement in the state.

The inherent nature of police work often places troopers in very dangerous situations and, unfortunately, on December 12, 1923, the State Police experienced their first line of duty death. Trooper William Marshall #63 was killed in a motorcycle accident while on routine patrol in the Red Bank area of Monmouth County.

The success of the New Jersey State Police may well be attributed to the theories adopted by Colonel Schwarzkopf who believed that the agency was not only an enforcement and apprehending agency, but that prevention, education, and service are equally important for the success of the mission of the organization.

Furthermore, it is believed that the training and duty of the members of the State Police should be made such that it develops men of character, men of reliability and gentlemen who enforce the law.

By the application of these sound principles, the New Jersey State Police had demonstrated its desire to serve the state; and through its representative -- the Trooper on the Road -- a worthy public service is being rendered.

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