Fall River Police Dept

06 Mar


Fall River, MA., like so many other cities across the nation struggling to provide necessary services in the face of ominous budgetary shortfalls, is laying off 149 employees.  Even worse, 98 of those are policemen and firemen.  Now when a city lays off  “first responders” you know it’s in trouble.

With its unemployment already nearly 14% (and we all know with high unemployment comes an increase in crime) Fall River is reverting back to its 1976 levels of uniformed police coverage.  Even Lizzie Borden would not be pleased.

From the Fall River Police Department website here is their Uniform Police Compliment of 1976.


In 1976,  they had 12 men in patrol cars, 10 on walking beats and 1 K-9 unit.   The Fall River Herald News reported there would be only 10 patrol cars, no walking beats, and special police services cut or eliminated altogether.  This is not good news, and my heart goes out to those men and women losing their jobs.  An unpopular mayor is looking at restructuring departments,  and outside challenges to look closer at salvaging some of these jobs is still being raised.

Having worked for the Long Beach (Ca.) Police Department for 11 years in a non-sworn capacity (Vice, Narcotics and the  Deputy Chief’s office) and having a father who’s a retired Watch 3 Captain (night Chief) and several cousins who are police officers and sheriff’s, I know about the “culture of cops”, aka “the brotherhood.”   Unless you are a law enforcement officer or someone in your immediate family is one, it’s very difficult for the average citizen to truly realize and appreciate the job they do.

oldstationOld Station on Bedford Street

I’ve met several Fall River police officers over the years, beginning in 1977 at the old station on Bedford Street. Police Chief Henry Ramos led the Department during the turbulent times of the mid and late 1970’s and was, in fact, the incumbant Chief  when I was first there.    I remember going inside  the old Station, cramped and dingy as it was,  and inquired if they had any police records on the Lizzie Borden case.  And yes, I got the eye-rolling look but the officer at the counter near the front door was courteous and chatted up the case with me for some time before directing me to the public library.

During Lizzie Borden’s Day, the image below was the Central Police Department from officers were dispatched to 92 Second Street.  After investigations, trial and her acquittal, those officers progressed within the department, several becoming Police Chiefs, and Lizzie outlived most of them.  But can you imagine the conversations these men had over the decades talking about that incredible case in which they all took part.   Would love to see some of *their* private correspondence!

pd1800sCentral Police Station

See Picture City Marshal Rufus B Hillard (1886-1909)
Arresting officer of record Lizzie Borden


  • Born in Maine on May 5th, 1849
  • Appointed May 15th 1879, went on duty May 21st 1879
  • Appointed Day Patrolman March 1880
  • Appointed Sergeant in February 1882
  • Appointed Asst. City Marshal March 2nd 1883
  • Appointed City Marshal March 29th 1886
  • Retired on a pension of $950 year June 15th 1909, to be paid weekly.
  • Died Monday morning December 30th 1912

City Marshal John Fleet (1909-1915)john-fleet
  • Born in England on March 29th 1848
  • Appointed February 27th 1877, went on duty March 5th 1877
  • Appointed Day Patrolman on March 1st 1879
  • Appointed Sergeant on Feb 1st 1881
  • Appointed Captain on March 1st 1882
  • Appointed Asst. City Marshal December 22nd 1886
  • Appointed City Marshal November 8th 1909
  • Retired on pension of one-half pay in effect May 31st 1915
  • Died at his home at 12:30 PM May 10th 1916

NOTE: This is the transition period from City Marshal to Chief of Police.

See Picture Chief William N Medley (1915-1917)chiefmedley
  • Born in England on January 6th 1853
  • Appointed Steward February 2nd 1880, went on duty February 18th 1880
  • Appointed Patrolman on March 1st 1882
  • Transferred to Day Patrolman on April 1st 1886
  • Appointed Inspector with the rank of Lieutenant on February 10th 1893
  • Transferred to Night-Lieutenant at the 3rd Division as Inspector
  • Appointed Assistant City Marshal on January 21st 1910
  • Promoted to the rank of Chief of Police on September 27th 1915
  • Killed in an automobile accident at intersection of Linden and Locust Sts on September 15th1917
See Picture Chief Martin Feeney (1917-1931)feeney
  • Born in England on January 1st 1886
  • Appointed Patrolman on December 30th 1885, went on duty January 1st 1886
  • Appointed to the permanent force on July 12th 1886
  • Promoted to Inspector with the rank of Lieutenant on February 10th 1893
  • Promoted to Chief Inspector with the rank of Captain
  • Reduced to rank of Lieutenant when rank of Chief Inspector was abolished on May 18th 1895
  • Transferred to the 1st Division as Day Lieutenant on February 18th 1903
  • Promoted to the rank of Captain to command the 3rd Division on November 2nd 1903
  • Transferred to command the 1st Division days on February 24th 1905
  • Transferred to command the 4th Division on November 5th 1909
  • Transferred to command the 1st Division on December 12th 1914
  • Promoted to the rank of Deputy Chief of Police on November 5th 1915
  • Promoted to the rank of Chief of Police on November 5th 1917
  • Retired on February 9th 1931 on half pay

Other officers involved in the case:
captain-1896-patrick-h-dohertyCaptain Patrick H. Doherty (1896)

desmond-jr1Captain Desmond

francis-l-edsonCaptain Francis L. Edson


4 responses to “Fall River Police Dept

  1. randy

    April 6, 2009 at 4:56 PM

    that is so cool the dued is the first cop in fall river!!!!!!!!!

    ( * *)
    (^ ^ )

  2. Caroline

    May 18, 2009 at 4:23 PM

    Did Lizzy ever confess to commiting the murders of her father and step-mother?

    • phayemuss

      May 19, 2009 at 7:59 AM

      No. Never. And if she had we would not be sleuthing through the myriad of threads of this compelling mystery the past 117 years. When Lizzie was asked at the Coroner’s Inquest if her father had any enemies, she named her uncle, Hiram Harrington – who was married to Andrew’s sister. But this was posed to her after Mr. Harrington’s newspaper interview where he described Lizzie as “haughty and domineering” and that money was the motive….practically implicating her. Lizzie took it to her grave.

  3. phayemuss

    September 6, 2018 at 2:35 PM


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