History of the Police Department
As we progress in the new millennium, one might not suspect that the modern, 80-officer Taylor Police Department had rather humble beginnings.
Prior to 1940
Prior to 1940, the population of Taylor, then a township, was less than 8,500. The elected constables were the only local enforcement officers that we provided. The Michigan State Police and the Wayne County Sheriff Road Patrol were used to service the area. The Sheriff Deputies used their own vehicles for patrol and had roll down canvas signs they would put on the doors.
During the 1940s
During 1940, Township Supervisor Willard Koths, appointed Claud Derby, Ordinance Enforcement Officer, to work in plain clothes. In 1943, he was appointed as a uniformed officer to continue this work.
A new Township Supervisor, Stanley Grendel, appointed Claud Derby Chief of Police in 1945. He was to do all the enforcement work in Taylor. However, the Michigan State Police and Wayne County Sheriff’s departments continued service as usual. Chief Derby’s work consisted, not only of law enforcement as we know it, but include the duties of dog warden and building inspector. A full-time animal warden was later employed and assisted him.
Police "Headquarters" was established in the Township Hall, which was on Goddard Road, west of Telegraph Road.
Harold Rippe became township supervisor in 1949 and Chief Derby was replaced by Marvin Merklien, a former Township constable. The Taylor Police Department was officially formed. Two officers were hired, and the first police car and radio equipment was purchased.
During 1950, with a population of 18,848, police service was offered on an eight-hour basis; the salary was $4,400 for the six-day week. There was no compensation for overtime. Between 1950 and 1956, six men were added to the department; three marked police units were maintained and 24-hour patrol service went into effect.
During 1956, Martha Stainslaw, was appointed Supervisor, and Chief Marklien, and other officials resigned from office. Lieutenant Raymond Quiel, was placed in charge of the department and operations were transferred from the Township Hall on Goddard Road to the Pine Street Fire Station. Fire Department personnel dispatched police calls to the patrol units.
In 1957, Supervisor Alexander Papp appointed Francis M. Cole, a retired State police Lieutenant as Public Safety Director. Papp oversaw both the police and fire departments. Upon taking over the seven man police department, three men were added, and an extensive training program was started. All personnel attended basic police and advanced police training schools. Added equipment was purchased for the department and starting wages were now at $4,800.
One Township constable was appointed to work on a full-time basis and the remaining three constables work on weekends to augment the force during its busiest times.
Between 1957 & 1960
Between 1957 and 1960, the population of Taylor had increased to about 48,000 and an additional seven men were appointed to the department.
In December 1960, Francis Cole died of a heart attack. Raymond Quiel, now deputy chief, was again directed to operate the department with 17 men.
Between 1961 & 1962
During 1961, Deputy Chief Quiel was promoted to the rank of Chief of Police. Operation of the department was then moved from the Fire Department on Pine Street, into the newly constructed police station, providing the department with a dispatch office, driver license office, squad-record room, and detective-youth room, chief’s office, and a detention area with two escape proof cells and an outer detention area. Six new officers were appointed to the department.
A number of divisions and bureaus were created in 1962. A Detective Bureau, with one full-time detective; a Youth Bureau, with one full-time detective; and a part-time Traffic Bureau was formed with six men assigned.
Specialized training was made available to the officers assigned in these areas. Prior to the formation of bureaus, each individual officer was entirely responsible for the cases that were assigned to him. He would take the complaint, investigation and follow-up and proceed through the prosecution in court.
An Auxiliary Police-Civil Defense Unit was organized and training was provided.
Between 1963 & 1967
During 1963, with a population of about 55,000, two more officers were added to the department. We were also accepted to the Wayne County Teletype System.
In 1964, we had eleven radio equipped police cars, eight of which were marked. Two more officers were added to the department.
During 1965 and 1966, six new officers were added to the department. Total complement, 31 officers and one civilian employee.
Taylor’s first woman police officer was hired in the 1960’s. Julie Kearns, who worked her way up to the rank of corporal and was assigned to the Youth Bureau. Retired Lt. Frank Canning remembered Corporal Kearns when he hired on in August of 1975.
"When I was a cadet, she was called in for uniform work-like Devil’s Night. She wore a police skirt and a ladies hat that looked like an upside down Dairy Queen banana split container. . .her skirt even had belt loops for her gun belt."
In April 1967, Supervisor Richard Trolley, added the most officers in any single year with 12 more officers hired.
Taylor became an official city in April 1967 with a population of 65,200 and Supervisor Trolley then became the first mayor. Two more officers were added to the department, raising the department to 45 officers.
Years 1969 & 1970
The most progress and most expansion during recent years, occurred in 1969; 12 new officers were appointed, and a police cadet program was added. Deputy Chief Vaughn was appointed to that position; a central records bureau was established; a selective traffic enforcement unit, traffic engineering unit and planning and training unit was established. A photo crime lab was also started during this time. The department was also instrumental in formulating a narcotics and drug awareness commission, and obtaining police training with the Wayne County Community College. A polygraph examiner was also added.
During 1970, two more officers and one civilian employee was added to the department. Total department complement was 57 officers, and a total of 65 employees. The starting wage was $10,358 and air-conditioned cars became a reality. Seven employees were promoted in rank, and a warrant unit was established in the department. The pistol team continued as Class B champions, with six years as Class C champions behind them. The population was 70,200.
In 1988, under Chief Thomas Bonner, police force was moved into a much larger newly constructed police station, which now sits on Goddard Road between City Hall and the 23rd District Court. The new building included state-of-the art communication systems; a larger jail; and room for the various aspects of the department and bureaus to expand.
In 2002, Deputy Chief Glenn Bondy was named Chief of Police after the retirement of Chief Bonner. Chief Bondy retired following the mayoral election of 2005. Commander. Dale Tamsen was named Deputy Chief and then named Chief in February of 2006.
In June 2002, the department promoted it’s first female officer to the command ranks when Corporal Mary Sclabassi was promoted to sergeant.
In 2009, Commander Daniel Crowell undertook the massive project of having a custom made bronze statue called "The Protector" commissioned for the front of the Taylor Police Department. The statue took nearly a year to complete, but when done was a stunning fixture of an officer holding the hand of a little girl. That same year the Department adopted the motto "Honor. . . Integrity . . . Service.", which was also added to the graphics of the force’s squad cars.
On July 23, 2010, the Taylor Police Department lost it’s first officer. Corporal Matthew Edwards was killed in the line of duty when he and his partner, Corporal. Gregory Piche, responded to a reported burglary in the Coppertree Apartment complex that turned out to be a domestic violence call. Corporal Edwards was ambushed by the shooter and died instantly at the scene.
In a heroic response, Corporal Piche engaged in a gun battle with the killer as he chased him on foot throughout the apartment complex. He shot and wounded the shooter and took him into custody.
Edwards, 31, had been hired January of 2005. He was survived by his wife, Shannon, and children, Luke and Moriah. On July 30, 2010, Corporal Edwards was laid to rest in a full police ceremonial funeral. The processional of police cars from not only the Metro Detroit area but from across the country was said to have spanned miles.
Nine months later, the Taylor Police Department went through another turbulent time. Nine police officers were laid off due to the city’s financial condition. Through a massive retirement of higher seniority officers, the city brought those nine officers back two months later.
In May of 2011, the Department held it’s first Police Awards Ceremony. Corporal Piche was honored for his heroic action when Corporal Edwards was killed and given the "Medal of Honor" and named "Officer of the Year 2010." Corporal Gerald Cole was named the first recipient of the "Corporal Matthew Edwards Legacy Award", for his never ending work on ceremonies following Corporal Edwards’ death and his devotion as the police liaison to Corporal Edwards’ widow and children.
On October 25, 2011, Defendant Tyress Treandos Mathews stood trial for the murder of Corporal Edwards and the attempted murder of Corporal Piche. The prosecution was led by Wayne County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Robert Stevens before Wayne County Circuit Judge Ulysses Boykin. Taylor officers attended every day of the proceedings often in uniform to show their support to the Edwards and Piche families.
On November 11, 2011, a jury convicted Tyress Mathews of first-degree murder, murder of a peace officer, assault with intent to commit great bodily harm, felon in possession, and felony firearm. He was sentence on November 28, 2011 by Judge Boykin.
In November 2011, the Department set about hiring new officers to fill the void created by the mass retirements. Nine new officers were hired and would begin training. They were the first officers to be hired in Taylor since 2005.
In October 2012, Chief Dale Tamsen retired and Commander Mary Sclabassi was sworn in as Chief of Police.
In July 2017, Chief Mary Sclabassi retired and John Blair was named Acting Chief of Police.
View our photo gallery of historic images.