Shamokin 150th: To serve and protect
Back in the days when Shamokin was an infant, where development is concerned, "rowdyism and crime" prevailed to such an extent that some residents feared walking the streets at night. In the time of gaslights and horses and buggies, there were very few law enforcement units to maintain a peaceful community. Street fights among varied nationalities and mob violence were predominant throughout the anthracite coal region.
Files dating back to the late 1800s provide accounts of a situation that existed under the old constabulary form of law enforcement. These various ward-elected constables had very little authority to cope with the increase in robberies, murders and assaults.
On a bleak, rainy night of April 2, 1889, the community fathers gathered in session in the small stone building, then known as borough hall and adopted an ordinance whereby the police department came into existence.
The ordinance, adopted on the third meeting, called for organization of a police committee, appointment of a chief of police and police captain and the authorization for a four-man paid department.
J.A. Weaver, chief burgess was named the first chief of police. His assistant, or captain, was James A. Shipp, who doubled as borough clerk. The first patrolmen on the payroll were Thomas Nicholson, Francis Deibler, George Rohrer and William Reppard. They weren't assigned to community beats until 13 days later.
Their first appearance - in short trim blue uniform coats with shining buttons on their collars, shiny white steel helmets and carrying red-tassled billy clubs - was described as a spectacle that aroused the curiosity of both children and adults. The "rowdies" who stood on street corners immediately dispersed at the sight of the "coppers."
The 18-section ordinance, adopted less than 25 years after Shamokin was formally chartered as a borough, gave the chief of police all authority in handling the department.
Prerequisites for prospective members of the force were: Applicants had to be between the ages of 23 to 50, peaceable and orderly men, civil to everyone, yet energetic and firm in their performance of duties and always careful to refrain from improper language.
In the days of old, Shamokin Police Department coverage was Coal Township, East Cameron Township and Zerbe Township until the late 1930s when the Pennsylvania State Police arrived in the area.
In April 2014, the Shamokin Police Department turned 125 years old. In that time, there have been 38 chiefs of police and many police officers sworn to protect the community.
One police officer gave his life to help others. On Nov. 13, 1983, Cpl. David W. Witmer was killed in the line of duty.
Today, the City of Shamokin Police Department is under the command of Chief of Police Darwin T. Tobias III. The department includes 10 sworn officers, including the chief, one special officer and one civilian employee.
The department has always been known for staying up to date and changing with the times and needs of the community. The 10 sworn officers, in addition to daily patrol duties, specialize in other aspects of law enforcement. There are many officers within the department trained as tactical officers. Crime scene investigations, narcotics enforcement, bike patrol, juvenile law, crime scene photographers, accident investigation and reconstruction, arson investigation, active school shooter and high risk warrant entry are among the areas of specialized training.
All officers are trained in hazardous material, first aid, CPR and AED. Four officers are certified emergency medical technicians.
From all officers past and present, thank you for your support for 125 years of the Shamokin Police Department.
Chiefs of Police
- Elias Long, high constable, was appointed acting chief March 7, 1887.
- Henry Reese, high constable, was appointed acting chief Sept. 6, 1887.
- J.A. Weaver was appointed the first chief of police April 2, 1889.
- William Reppard was appointed chief of police May 19, 1890.
- Henry Reese was appointed chief of police April 7, 1891.
- Thomas Nicholson was appointed chief of police April 5, 1892.
- Richard Phillips was appointed chief of police March 7, 1893.
- John Zerbe was appointed chief of police Jan. 8, 1894.
- W.A. Gilham was appointed chief of police March 4, 1895, and was then demoted to house sergeant Sept. 30, 1912.
- Reese Jeremiah was appointed chief of police; he resigned Jan. 1, 1916.
- Thomas Edwards was appointed chief of police Jan. 1, 1916; he resigned Oct. 31, 1919.
- William R. Johnson was appointed chief of police Nov. 1, 1919.
- William Jackman was appinted chief of police Feb. 1, 1921.
- R.D. Zimmerman was appointed chief of police Feb. 6, 1923.
- G. Shissler (chief burgess) was acting chief of policer on Nov. 1, 1924.
- R.D. Zimmerman was discharged Dec. 2, 1924.
- Jesse Duncheskie was acting chief of police Jan. 26, 1926.
- Charles H. Levan was elected a patrolmen and chief of police on the same day, Feb. 9., 1927; he was suspended July 2, 1927.
- Joseph E. Kehler was acting chief of police July 2, 1927.
- Charles H. Levan was reappointed chief of police Nov. 1, 1927; he was suspended Dec. 1, 1929.
- Joseph E. Kehler was acting chief of police Dec. 29, 1929.
- Charles H. Levan was reappointed chief of police July 1, 1930; he resigned April 12, 1934.
- A.G. Shissler (chief burgess) serves as acting chief of police from Jan. 3, 1934, to Jan. 1, 1936.
- William Miller was appointed chief of police Jan. 1, 1936; he retired as chief Feb. 28, 1950.
- Myron F. Reese was appointed chief of police March 1, 1950; he died in office Oct. 31, 1952.
- Emmett Golden was appointed chief of police Jan. 6, 1952.
- George Haddock was appointed chief of police Sept. 3, 1952; he retired as chief of police April 1, 1966.
- Gerard Waugh was appointed chief of police Jan. 28, 1974; he retired as chief of police Jan. 28, 1981.
- Ronald A. Wagner was appointed chief of police Jan. 29, 1981.
- James Hodge was appointed chief of police Jan. 1, 1984.
- William Grow was appointed chief of police Jan. 1, 1989; he retired as chief of police Jan. 1, 1993.
- Ronald Yeager was appoointed chief of police Jan. 1, 1993; he retired as chief of police Jan. 1, 1997.
- Richard R. Nicols was appointed chief of police Jan. 1, 1997; he retired Jan. 1, 2006.
- John Brown was appointed chief of police Jan. 1, 2006; he retired as a corporal.
- Edward M. Griffiths was appointed chief of police Jan. 1, 2010; he retired as chief of police April 30, 2014.
- Darwin T. Tobias II was appointed chief of police May 1, 2014. He serves at present.