Tewksbury Police Department History Page

In 1734 the Board of Selectmen appointed Edmond Frost to be the first Constable in Town. At that time, Tewksbury was under British rule, as were the rest of the Colonies. His principal duties were to post warrants, collect the taxes, “run undesirables out of town”, make minor arrests, and to place offenders in the stocks. At that time the majority of police work was done by the military.

The Town of Tewksbury, which was established in 1734 did not have its first Police Officer until 1886, according to Town records.   In 1886 there is a listed police officer, but no formal police department.  The Officer listed is James Manley.  The records indicate that Officer Manley worked as the only Police Officer in Town from 1886-1893 and was the first Police Chief for the Town of Tewksbury.  Manley is listed on town reports as a police officer until 1907.

Tewksbury Police Chiefs

Name and TitleYears Served
1st Police Chief James Manley 1902-1907
2nd Police Chief Frank Farmer 1915-1920
3rd Police Chief Anthony Kelley 1921-1934
4th Police Chief Cyril Barker 1934-1952
5th Police Chief John Sullivan 1953-1987
6th Police Chief John Mackey 1988-2003
7th Police Chief Alfred Donovan2004-2009
8th Police Chief Timothy Sheehan2010-2019
9th Police Chief Ryan Columbus2020 – present

Remembering Officer George Gale

In honor of Black History Month, the Tewksbury Police Department recognizes Police Officer George Gale, who served as a Tewksbury Police Officer in the 1940s. Officer Gale is the first person of color to serve on the Tewksbury Police Department. The Gale family, (John J. Gale, Virginia “Jennie” and their 3 daughters) fled the south around 1868 for a better life. By all historical accounts, the Gale family was not only one of the first families of Tewksbury but also the first family of color to reside in Tewksbury. Based on historical documents, the Gale family were welcomed by the residents of Tewksbury and were provided housing by the Farmer family (Farmer and Dee). John Gale worked as a laborer and had 4 more children, John T. Gale, Ernest Gale, Louise Gale, and George Gale, who was born in 1894. John J. Gale ran his own company, “John Gale and Sons,” in the early 1900’s. George Gale is photographed and given a bio in a 1945 publication of the police department, which states, “George Gale of Main Street is the night clerk at the office in the Town Hall. He is a member of one of the first families in town. His father, John, came north immediately after the Civil War in 1868. George has been on duty only three years but is considered an old standby. He is kind, courteous, and faithful. George has the dubious honor of being the only bachelor officer of the eight mentioned here.” George is also mentioned in a newspaper publication about the Tewksbury Athletic Club in 1932.

George was selected as the Treasurer and was interviewed about the T.A.C. “Everybody in Tewksbury knows George A. Gale,” the article states. “No better man could be picked for the job as Treasurer, of the T.A.C.”. The club, which had 86 members, participated in football, baseball, boxing, wrestling, hockey, and many other sports for the youth of Tewksbury.

George Gale served in the Army in World War I and signed up for World War II. His brother Ernest was also a veteran of World War I. We not only honor our brother, Police Officer George Gale, but his entire family for their service to our
Community and our Country.

This was a tremendous project, which showed that the residents of Tewksbury welcomed this family in the early 1900’s. George lived the remainder of his life in Tewksbury, until his death in 1985 at age 90. George and his family are buried in the Tewksbury Cemetery on First Ave. Our hope is to honor George and the Gale family each year, and possibly even look to raise money at some point to place a historical
stone on their site.

We want to thank Nancy Reed from the Tewksbury Historical Society, who was instrumental in helping us with this story.