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History of the Kentville Police Service

History of the Kentville Police Service

Following is an excerpt from the report, KENTVILLE POLICE SERVICE: STRUCTURE AND ORGANIZATION by Lynda Clairmont and Anthony Thomson. It has been posted with the permission of Dr. Anthony Thompson, Acadia University.

From the appointment of Kentville’s first Police Chief, Robert Barry (1887), until late in Rupert Davis’ term as Chief (1894–1931), the Kentville Police Department was a one-man operation. In 1926, with the hiring of Constable John Brown, the department expanded to a two-person unit. Brown served as a constable for five years and upon Davis’s retirement became Chief. He was to hold that position for thirty-five years. In contrast to the increased specialization of police work today, the early police officer or “guardian” in Kentville was responsible for a sweeping range of assignments that far exceeded his accountability for law enforcement. The “guardian” was charged with enforcing “the every day laws of common decency” (The Acadian, May, 1883). Supplementary assignments included janitorial tasks, serving as Health Inspector and Animal Control Officer and monitoring various town services, such as water and street cleaning (McGahan, 1988). These tasks were often tedious: “The duties of a policeman in a small town are numerous and not always of a more agreeable nature, and it is not to be expected that any man could give unbounded satisfaction” (The Acadian, July 22, 1898). The relatively quiet town of Kentville was, in the early part of the century, characterized as “a raucous and disorderly community” (McGahan, 1988, p. 88) disparagingly referred to as “The Devil’s Half Acre”. With 14 drinking establishments located within the town boundaries it is not difficult to understand the implications for “rowdyism”, vandalism and liquor related offenses. As McGahan (1988) indicated, “the vast majority of offences involved crimes against property; crimes against the person were much less common” (p. 89). In 1966 Archibald Strong became Kentville’s Chief of Police and the former Chief, Brown, was retained on a part-time basis to service and repair the town’s parking meters (The Kentville Advertiser, December 7, 1966). At this time the Chairman of the Police and License Committee, H. L. Woodman, indicated that no formal advertising was done for the position of Chief of Police, but that a number of applicants from across Canada were interviewed (The Kentville Advertiser, November 24, 1966).