The Union County Police Department can trace its roots back to November 8, 1926, when 15 Probationary Park Patrolmen, chosen from 150 applicants, began their duties as Police Officers. After just two days of training, the Park Patrolmen were sent out on duty to patrol over 4,000 acres of Union County Park property. Starting salary was set at $1,800.00 per year.
The Chief of the new Park Police Department was West Point graduate and former World War I Army Captain, Lyman L. Parks. He would serve as Chief of Police for 31 years, retiring in 1957.
The Police uniform in 1926 was different from today’s traditional Police blue color. The first Park Police Officers were garbed in forest green uniforms designed by Chief Parks and W.R. Tracy, Secretary and Engineer for the Union County Park Commission, under whose autonomy the Police force first functioned.
This rare photograph shows 14 of the 15 Officers and Chief Parks. Officer Henry E. Ehlert is not pictured. Standing from left to right: Frederick C. Thinnes, Albert L. Dehart, Harvey N. Case, Raymond F. Corbin, Michael M. Danciak, Clarence Peterson, Appollo A. Maskevich, Frank T. Vitsens. Seated from left to right: John F. Feehan, Norman F. Gibbs, Edwin B. Fitzpatrick, Chief Lyman L. Parks, Charles Capone, Joseph M. Tierney, Wesley D. Hoesly. The tudor building in the background is the Old Union County Park Commission Building in Warinanco Park. The Park Police were headquartered there until 1978 when they became the Union County Police and moved to their present HQ in Westfield. The old building still remains in Warinanco Park.