1960's - Changing Times
With the era of the 1960's, the complexities of policing the state were compounded. The ever-increasing need for modern methods of police work led to an increase in the professionalism of the organization.
On March 6 and 7, 1962, a savage snow-laden northeast storm spread death and destruction from Virginia to New England. Hundreds of people were evacuated from their coastal homes, while inland wet snow clogged roads and cut off electric service to thousands of homes.
Troop A responded to Long Beach Island and the southern New Jersey shore area to evacuate stranded victims, set up communications to the disaster area, establish strategic dismounted posts and patrols to prevent looting, and to search the floating debris for bodies.
Meanwhile, State Police personnel assigned to the Division of Civil Defense and Disaster Control Section activated the state control center and channeled to proper authorities with the greatest of expediency. The Office of Emergency Planning established temporary headquarters at the state control center, processing requests for federal aid.
The single worst tragedy to befall the Division would occur on June 1, 1962, with the deaths of Tprs. Milan Simcak #999, Joseph P. DeFrino #1605, and Arthur J. Abagnale Jr. #1671. The tragedy occurred on the New Jersey Turnpike’s Passaic River Bridge, where the three troopers, traveling together, were struck by a bus, killing them instantly.
The portraits of the three troopers to this day hang in a place of honor at the Newark Turnpike Station and serve as a reminder to all troopers entering or leaving the station of the dangers involved in patrolling New Jersey’s heavily-traveled highways.
The Planning Section, in conjunction with the Academy, was responsible for the institution of the trooper-coach training program with the graduation of the 61st recruit class in June 1963.
Upon completion of the twelve-week pre-service course, probationary troopers were placed under the direct control of trooper-coaches for an eight-week period. At the conclusion of the coach program, the new troopers returned to the academy for a two-week in-service training session.
Prior to 1963, new troopers were assigned to ride with experienced troopers for a month or so, but not formally evaluated. Although the new program shortened the original 16-week course, it allowed for an additional six weeks of supervised training before final assignment. The program also allowed for an additional recruit class to be trained each year.
In 1963, Colonel Dominick R. Capello was appointed to succeed Colonel Rutter. During 1964, the Division was assigned to one of the largest security details in its history, providing police protection for the Democratic National Convention which was held in Atlantic City.
The absence of the incidents which had plagued the Republican Convention earlier, and the problems at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, bolstered the opinions of many who declared it was the “best policed convention” in recent years.
Colonel David B. Kelly was appointed Superintendent in 1965, during a time of dynamic and tumultuous change for the nation, the state and the State Police. The ability to deal with civil and racial disturbances was tested throughout the 1960's.
During 1967, State Police personnel were charged with riot control in the violence-stricken cities of Newark and Plainfield. Throughout these turbulent times, Division personnel were tested both as individuals and as a disciplined unit working as a whole.
The fact that the Division responded effectively was clearly evidenced in the Governor’s directive that the State Police conduct training in riot control for all police agencies in the state. Thus, “Operation Combine,” a training program for command and tactical control of civil disorder, was established.
As a result of this program, a statewide response strategy for municipal, county, and state agencies and the ALERT radio system for interagency communication during disasters, was implemented.
After the civil disturbances of 1967, the Division realized the need for a utility uniform. Thus, the Class “B” Uniform was added to the Trooper’s clothing issue.
Earlier in the decade (1961), a somewhat small but important change in the State Police uniform would occur. The addition of a name bar to be worn over the right front pocket of both the summer and winter uniform was adopted, with little of the fanfare that had occurred with the change from boots and breeches to slacks and military shoes some three years earlier.
In June 1967, the State Police again was tasked with another large security detail. A “Summit Conference” in the Town of Glassboro, New Jersey would bring together the two most powerful men in the world. President Lyndon B. Johnson and Premier Aleksei N. Kosygin of the Soviet Union were to meet for the first time to discuss matters of mutual interest.
The Summit was held at the Glassboro College’s President home, named “Hollybush” on the campus of the State College at Glassboro. With the world watching, the State Police again performed its duties in an exemplary manner.
During the late 1960's, the Division continued to accrue added responsibilities and achieve higher degrees of recognition. The end of the decade witnessed an increased public awareness of the violent nature of organized crime.
The Division again became a pioneer in new investigative efforts. Intelligence and Organized Crime Task Force Bureaus were created to monitor and interdict organized criminal groups.
As the legislature originated and enacted new laws governing electronic surveillance, witness immunity, statewide grand jury, gun control and uniform crime reporting codes, the New Jersey State Police was charged with the enforcement of these laws to wage war against organized crime.
This added responsibility delegated to the Division gave rise to the formation of the Electronic Surveillance Unit and the expansion of the Intelligence Bureau.
In 1967, the Attorney General authorized the New Jersey State Police to collect and collate crime data received from law enforcement agencies within the state.
The Uniform Crime Reporting Unit receives monthly and annual summary crime reports from 484 full-time municipal police departments and submits an annual report which extensively delineates those statistics.
In 1968, the Division’s awards program was expanded to include an annual event that exemplified the highest level of performance accomplished by our Troopers.
The Trooper of the Year award was established to honor the outstanding performance of a Trooper during that year. The Division’s first recipient was Tpr. John Billick #1494.
In 1969, the State Police acknowledged the need for scientific analysis of evidence gathered during criminal investigations. This led to the creation of the Central Laboratory in West Trenton.
Since that time, the demand for our services has increased to such an extent that four Regional Labs were established to service the needs of the law enforcement community throughout the state.
This time frame also saw the creation of the Division Traffic Bureau to enforce traffic safety laws and a Tactical Patrol Research and Analysis Unit to identify target areas for selective enforcement and assist local police departments in handling specific traffic problems.
The present Aviation Unit was formed in 1969 and was known as the Helicopter Patrol Bureau. Its main function was traffic patrols. Since that time, the unit has expanded to include a fixed wing aircraft and its responsibilities have increased to include medevac services, criminal surveillance, and executive transportation.