The Town of Poughkeepsie was established in 1788 as part of a general organization of Towns in the County of Dutchess. In 1854, part of the western section of the Town, already an Independent Village, became the City of Poughkeepsie.
The Town has a total area of 31.2 square miles, of which 28.8 square miles is land and 2.4 square miles is water. The Town surrounds the City of Poughkeepsie, bordering the Hudson River.
In 1861, Vassar College was founded and had at one time the only residents in that area. It was an all girl’s school and was known as one of the leading elite ladies colleges in America.
In 1924, the Town hired five constables who were elected to that position by the Town elections. Two of them failed to qualify by failing to file a bond and take the oath of office. Two more constables were named to fill those positions until the next Town election.
In 1938, the Town of Poughkeepsie designated four men to the position of Special Town Policemen in and for the Town to serve, without compensation from the Town, at Vassar College for the protection of the property and persons residing at the college. They also appointed Special Town Policemen for the Town to serve, without compensation from the Town, at various different factories and even a Convent in New Hamburg.
In 1941, the Town Board made one appointment as a Special Town Policeman for the Town and paid him $5.00 a day when he worked, but he was not allowed to be armed as were any of the Special Police Policemen before him.
At this same time, the Town Board appointed 18 persons to be Auxiliary Police to serve in the Town for actual air raids, trial blackouts, and when called out by the Committee or Supervisor when either of them considered it best for the interest of the people of the Town. None of these officers were armed. The Town also appointed a Special Policeman for the area of Calvary Cemetery on LaGrange Avenue.
Throughout the years, the Town of Poughkeepsie was farmland with few houses and very little industry in it, and then in 1942, International Business Machines opened its first building in the Town of Route 9 and called it Plant 4.
The first full-time police officers for the Town were Vincent F. Smith and Frank Kilmer, who were paid twice a month at an annual salary of $1824.00. This took place in January of 1946. The Town Board, at the same meeting, rescinded all the positions of Special Town Policemen and appointed all the Auxiliary Policemen who served during the War emergency to that of Special Town Policemen and paid them the sum of $6.75 per day.
It wasn’t until 1951 when the Town had four full-time police officers and fixed their salaries at $3100.00 per year. In 1952 the first Police Chief was appointed. Vincent F. Smith was made in charge as he was the oldest member of the department with time on the job.