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Then and Now: Honoring the Police Department

A weekly look back into Wilmington's history.

Last week, when , it reminded us that The has a long tradition of dedication and honor.

While the department has grown throughout the years, its members have always maintained a reputation for supporting each other as well as the community.  Their pride was, once again, evident as they stood together and on Tuesday, December 13.

The photo from that day, taken as one group of officers attended the wake, shows them standing outside Nichols Funeral Home on Middlesex Ave. The officers in French Blue are wearing their Honor Guard Uniforms while the remaining officers are in their Class A Dress Uniforms. All are wearing traditional white dress gloves.

This week’s “Then” photo shows a similar gathering of Wilmington police officers in 1935. They are in almost the same spot just in front of the funeral home which has been in operation since the 1860’s.

White gloves, along with numerous cars in the background, indicate that it was a special occasion but its unclear whether or not it was a funeral. At the time, Grange Hall was just to the left, outside the camera shot, and used for any number of events and celebrations. Leaves on the trees and shirt sleeves would be indicative of warmer weather and they could easily have been gathering for a Memorial Day or Fourth of July Celebration. 

In 1935, the Wilmington Police Department consisted of the Police Chief along with 2–3 full time police officers. All other police officers worked part time as needed. The recent photo shows a much larger group but even that is only representative of half of the current 45-man roster.

What the photos have in common is the clear sense of dignity and pride that the officers showed as they gathered together. Last week, as the WPD gathered to honor one of their own they did so with the same sense of tradition that their predecessors did.

Officer Shawn Lee, , was a proud member of the Wilmington Police Department as well as a United States Air Force Veteran. 

Historical information and photograph provided by Paul Chalifour. 

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