History of the Plaistow Police


The Plaistow Police Department has a deep-rooted history, which spans over the decades. Thanks to the hard work, time, and dedication of prior dedicated employees, Communications Supervisor Lucia Theberge, Captain Brett Morgan, along with the Plaistow Historical Society, we are able to provide you with the history of the Department throughout the decades.

We hope to continue to collect additional photographs, newspaper articles, and memorabilia that relate to this Department. We would greatly appreciate any assistance from the relatives and family members of former members of the Department with any old photographs, articles, or memorabilia you may have to offer. If you have any historical artifacts, photographs, or information concerning the Plaistow Police Department, please feel free to contact Communications Supervisor, Catherine Gioia at 603-382-1200.

The article to the right with the photo of Mona from the Boston Traveler Features dated Tuesday, December 31, 1957, reads as follows:

“Is the police chief there? My Billy’s bike is missing.” A feminine voice replies: “Just give me your phone number and address, Mrs. Barker, and as soon as I contact my husband, he’ll get in touch with you.”

In scores of New England communities, police matters ranging from bicycle heists and highway accidents to missing kids and holdups are being handled by women.

They’re the wives of small town police chiefs “filling in at headquarters” while their husbands work at other jobs to augment meager salaries. “Headquarters” usually is the chief’s home. And his wife serves as cook, child rearer, house cleaner and desk sergeant.

For police budgets in many tiny communities are pretty thin. The town is too small to support an around-the-clock police department – but it gets one just the same. In a number of towns the law enforcement organization comprises a police chief and one – or possibly two – assistants.

And most departments don’t pay enough to make the job of chief full-time. So he generally holds down a regular job daytimes.

His wife – in between the baking, laundering and other chores of housekeeping and motherhood – mans the police phone. She jots down the messages and relays them to her husband or to “stand-by” members of the department.

In many communities in New Hampshire, she passes the message along to State Police. State Police often assign patrols to bolster the police work in many small towns.

In Groveland, Chief James J. Shanahan considers his wife the right arm of the law. Mrs. Shanahan is the mother of three children, one a six-month-old infant.

“My wife practically runs the police department by day,” Chief Shanahan says. “She relays the telephone calls, gets me on the air by radio through the Haverhill police radio systems, or calls other police officers.”

Chief Shanahan’s daytime job? Selling cars in Haverhill. He adds:

“My wife recently was sworn in as an official member of the police department. We had to, things got so busy lately. Now she can sign papers on automobile transfers – without cost to the town.”

At Plaistow, N.H., Mrs. Mona Hill, wife of Chief Lyman Hill, is the person to contact on police business when her husband’s away.

She is a 5-foot 2-inch mother of three and, she too, has been named an official member of the department. She holds the title of police clerk.

Mrs. Hill has been handling police work – on an unpaid basis – for a dozen years. Yet she manages to find time for community activities and to give lessons in painting.

The pattern is similar in other towns. Mrs. Gloria Pitkin fills in for her husband Chief Newall Pitkin in Kingston, N.H. The wife of Newton, N.H., Police Chief Nathaniel Sawyer another. The same applies for Chief Wilbur Moody’s wife in Atkinson, N.H.

So if you phone for police in a New England town and your call is answered by a woman – don’t worry about a wrong number. The number will be correct. And you’ll get help – and in a hurry, too.