1960s and 70s
1980s and 90s
mid-1990s to the present
When the 20th century began, Upper Darby’s population was 3,821 and the township government was active only as the need rose. On November 5th, 1906, Upper Darby’s first police officer, Edward C. Agnew, was appointed. His duty was to “arrest all disorderly persons and take them before a Justice of the Peace to be dealt with according to law.” In 1908, four other men were designated as police officers and served at the discretion of township commissioners without compensation and supplied their own horses. By the middle of 1909, each officer earned a salary of $80.00. The first Upper Darby Police Station was established in 1909 on the 900 block of Baltimore Avenue in the Fernwood section.
Since that time, the Upper Darby Police Department continues to evolve. There are currently 133 sworn officers that handle over 60,000 service calls a year in a municipality that now spans 7.62 square miles. There are 23 non-sworn staff members that help with daily operations. In 2016, the department investigated approximately 3,000 criminal offenses. The total number of arrested persons was 1,735 for various Felony, Misdemeanor and Summary charges. Motorcycle duty with the Highway patrol, plain clothes Narcotics duty, assuming K-9 responsibilities, and working the Mountain Bike Units are popular assignments for staff members. Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) and the use of Hostage Negotiation techniques have become effective tools in handling high-risk situations in the safest manner possible.
Rifle-rated ballistic vests have now become part of the body armor program used to protect officers while they work. Cell phones and other forms of digital technology have completely changed the way law enforcement services are delivered. The advent of social media has revolutionized the modes of communication between the police and the public. Videos and still photos of offenders circulated through social media have led to the apprehension or safe surrender of dozens of criminal offenders. Citizens using the internet for private sales can now use the Public Safety Building to complete online transactions without the fear of victimization.
The Upper Darby Police Department continues to expand its interaction with the community. In partnership with the Upper Darby School District, Officers deliver anti-drug, anti-bullying, and suicide prevention education. They mentor members of the 5th grade prior to advancing to middle school. The successful Citizens Police Academy has been expanded to include a junior version at the high school level. Both classes offer a glimpse into the inner workings of the police department. Police presence at town hall meetings is a standard so that we can join with the public in finding solutions to citizens’ concerns.
One initiative gaining momentum is the “Change is Possible” program for persons suffering from drug dependence. The lobby of the Police Station has become a path to recovery for qualified persons through our relationship with a rehabilitation support team. Out in the field, all Officers now carry the opiate-reversal drug Narcan. Hundreds of overdose victims have been revived since the introduction of the medication to Law Enforcement. Recently, another 6 Automatic External Defibrillators (AED’s) were added to the patrol fleet to assist cardiac arrest victims. Rest assured each Officer has a strong desire to protect the residents of Upper Darby Township and to serve with honor and distinction.