The police logs from the 1930s in Highlands are a fascinating read and a peek into how close knit and community oriented everyone was.
Howard Monahan, later to become Chief Howard Monahan, Kyril Parker, probably the longest serving of any officer in Highlands, and Howard Johnson were on the department in 1931 and kept their logs all neatly handwritten and being very specific on times, not only for door inspections and general patrol, but also for a 45-minute lunch period and street light inspections.
But when it came to death and accident, they are all devoid of any emotionalism or in depth investigatory detail.
Take Ptl. Johnson’ report of Sept. 7, 1930, for instance. He must have either completed his log at the end of his duty that day or simply momentarily forgot to include one occurrence first, since he put a 3:45 p.m. incident before the record of a 3:30 incident. But the official report reads: At 3:45, Paul J. Bartck of Fort Hancock, NJ was driving a car with a permit but no drivers license. And caused an accident by hitting a car on Bay Ave in front of Straus’s Restaurant. The car that car hit was driven by Edward F. Halligan, 37 2nd St, Rumson, driver’s license NO. 36021. Reg. No 10198 owned by James F. Halligan. Reg. No of car driven by Paul J. Bartck Reg No 12523 owned by Fred W. Shrerich Fort Hancock. “
There’s no report on whether there were injuries, summons issued, tests taken for sobriety or any other action. Until after the next report. Which reads: “At 3:30 p.m. was called to Franklin’s Restaurant as Franklin dropped dead in yard back of restaurant. The local doctors were not in town. Mayor Hardy got Dr. C. Woodruff of Atlantic Highlands.”
That’s all the report says about poor Mr. Franklin.
But Officer Johnson continues: “while Dr. Woodruff was here, he examined Paul Bartck. He did not find him sufficiently under the influence of Liquids as to be unfit to drive a car.”
Officer Monahan’s reports are equally devoid of many details but just as fascinating to read in the 21st century. His report shows that even in the 1930s, residents called police for any number of reasons, including to collect some rent.
On Feb. 12, 1931, Officer Monahan, on duty from 10:30 p.m. to 9 a.m., listed his routine duties of general patrol, door and light inspections and a half hour of directing school traffic beginning at 8:30 a.m., then wrote:
“At 11 p.m. was called to Mrs. Dempsey on Bay Avenue and Cedar St. about a fellow who was going to leave town and owed her two dollars for a room. He said he had no money but would send it to her. His name is Sergeant Erkman of US Marine Corps, Lakehurst, NJ. No arrest made.” And one wonders whether Sgt. Erkman ever sent the $2.
On one of his door checks, Officer Monahan noted the door was open at the Highlands Garage, but when he notified Frank Weinheimer about it, he was told “it was alright.”
Ptl Kyril Parker’s log showed the cooperation police enjoyed with telephone operators…. those ladies who manned the switchboards and connected two parties who wanted to talk on the phone…
On one summer’s night, while Parker was on duty from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., he received a call at 3 a.m. from a man on Navesink ave. The log notes he “would not give his name, but we got it from the operator that it was George Schmidt that called. Was in regard of some noise there. Officer Rubley took me there and we found some fellows having a party. We told them to stop it and they did so.”
It was Depression, prohibition and a less sophisticated time. And it was fun. Today’s Highlands Police Department is still as helpful, still as conscientious, but far more skilled, far more sophisticated and far more capable of handling the far more intricate problems officers face on a daily basis. But they still do an outstanding job in a still charming community in the 21st century.