In 1907, Mervin Thompson, supposedly a former circus strongman and wrestler, came to the village and become the East Rochester Police Department, a police force of one. Powerfully built, with broad shoulders and huge hands, few men dared to argue with him.
The one-man force lasted until 1915 when Arthur Webb joined the force and doubled the department. He soon was made the first chief and Lewis Riegel, the first paid patrolman, followed a few years later. Together with Carl Leege, they became authorities on the new system of fingerprinting. During those days the bicycling patrol man and uniformed footman were mainly concerned with the problems of bootlegging and maybe a few fistfights. Clifford Jenkins and George Hayden later donned badges and continued to keep order. During their regime, the Franklin Drug Store murder took place, and has the dubious honor of being the only unsolved murder in the history of the village.
Hamilton Conners came to East Rochester from Pittsburgh in 1910. He attended the local high school and later went to work at the car shops. At age 33, he was appointed to the police force and was made chief of police a year later.
With many merchants and limited parking space, traffic and parking were the biggest police headaches. Parking meters were installed in 1952 but meters jammed with slugs and became a nuisance and eventually the meters were removed from the business section of the village. In the early 1960s, a dog leash ordinance was passed which the Police Department had to enforce.
Chief Conners retired from the police department after serving 34 years. He died unexpectedly from a heart attack just 15 months later. Vincent “Snookie” Kreyer was appointed acting police chief for the village, and later appointed permanently. In the spring of 1972, Ralph Wolf was appointed chief and served eight months. Joel Rotunno followed for two and a half years, then Tom McShane was appointed acting chief for the second time. Radar equipment was purchased to catch the speeders. Around the same time a new ordinance was passed that forbid the burning of leaves. Vandalism, and junk cars seemed to keep the force busy along with the overindulgence of drink on Main Street near the tracks, an area often called the “Strip” or the “Barbary Coast.”
The department moved from the village hall in 1973, when the historic building was razed, a causality of Urban Renewal, to temporary offices in the Eyer Block until their new quarters on W. Ivy St. was completed four years later. There they remained until moving again to another quarters in the newly renovated Eyer Building in 2016.