The decade of the 1940's began with unsettled world conditions and threatening
clouds of war hanging overhead. The role of the New Jersey State Police, as
primarily a rural crime-fighting agency, would soon change as many new functions
and responsibilities would be undertaken as the United States moved even closer
to war. Troopers would soon be pulled from their normal duties and assigned
many diversified roles.
In the spring of 1940, Governor Harry Moore established a Civil Defense Council
to coordinate all state facilities in a civil defense plan. Colonel Mark O.
Kimberling was appointed chairman of the very important subcommittee on civil
protection. He immediately assigned Troopers to conduct surveys of the resources
available in each community, including police, fire and first aid services.
Plans were then formulated on the protective measures that would be needed to
take care of almost any emergency that might arise. A police war plan and mutual
aid fire plan were formulated to coordinate mutual aid during an emergency so
that men and materials could be transferred from one place to another. The Department
also assisted other agencies in the establishment of a statewide air raid warning
During the pre-war period, the Department, in cooperation with the FBI, Army
and Naval Intelligence Services, conducted numerous investigations into the
activities of suspected or potentially subversive groups. A considerable file
was developed on the German Bunds and German-American Bunds, which met regularly
at Camp Nordland near Andover in the hills of North Jersey.
In September 1941, Colonel Kimberling retired and shortly thereafter was elected
Sheriff of Mercer County. Charles Schoeffel was appointed the third Superintendent.
The US became directly involved in World War II with the infamous attack on
Pearl Harbor by Japan on December 7, 1941. In anticipation of the Nations
involvement in the war, the Organization had been well prepared for the many
new responsibilities which would be undertaken during a conflict.
In addition to the quiet investigations of anti-American groups, numerous investigations
were conducted for selective service draft boards. Investigations were conducted
on water supply sources and feedlines, plants manufacturing war materials, bridges,
highways and other installations important to the war effort.
Uniformed Troopers even served as guards at remote locations safeguarding bridges
and other installations important to the war effort. The Department assisted
in the maintaining of air raid traffic posts, the selection of primary and secondary
routes and the establishment of truck traffic control stations. A disaster control
plan was implemented to safeguard explosive, chemical and petroleum installations.
During the war, there was generally a reduction in the use of automobiles and
traffic in certain Sections of the State. However, truck traffic engaged in
the transportation of war materials, the convoy of troops and the large concentration
of vehicular traffic in areas having war production plants increased the hours
of traffic work conducted by the Department. There was also a reduction of personnel
in the State Police. By December 1943, one hundred and thirteen troopers were
serving in the armed forces.
In 1942, the installation of the two-way radio system greatly increased the
efficiency of the Organization. Once installed, the radios gave the Organization
the rapid effective communications needed to coordinate the many new responsibilities.
As part of the continuing wartime effort, Troopers were assigned to check on
the large numbers of German and Italian prisoners of war being utilized for
agricultural activities. Troopers would conduct inspection trips as a preventive
measure against possible escape or sabotage attempts by the prisoners of war.
Protection of the state farmers was also a high priority. Thefts of crops, poultry,
cattle and farm machinery and related dealings in the black market became common
place. Patrols were increased whenever possible in farm areas especially at
night to check for suspicious persons, unfamiliar cars and trucks cruising the
rural areas with the operators looking for potential easy pickings.
In June of 1943, the first issue of The Triangle was printed and disseminated
to all enlisted and civilian personnel serving both at home or overseas in the
military. The Triangle was an excellent way to keep personnel abreast with newsworthy
events and the happenings of our men serving in the military.
On September 14, 1944, a devastating and destructive hurricane struck the State,
leaving in its wake death, injury and millions of dollars in property damage.
Troopers played a major role in aiding the storm victims, protecting property
and restoring order along the coast.
With World War II slowly winding down, members of the Blue and Gold serving
in the military would begin to return stateside to resume their State Police
careers. By 1946 all but 11 members of the Department returned from active duty
with the military.
The war years had brought the Department many new responsibilities; from civil
defense functions, subversive groups and selective service investigations, to
security of various government installations and troop convoy escorts. With
the end of the war, new challenges would await the organization.
The crime rate would steadily increase, with the return of thousands of servicemen
and the subsequent increase in unemployment. Burglary, larceny and gambling
offenses would show the most dramatic crime rate increases. During the 1940's
the continued violation of liquor laws presented substantially more problems
for the Department.
A change in traffic enforcement philosophy was also instituted in 1946, with
the purchase of twenty-four conspicuously colored black and white patrol cars
with large blue lettering. The vehicles would serve as a visual deterrent to
potential violators. The remaining 163 police vehicles were inconspicuously
painted black and utilized for both patrol and investigative functions. More
black and white vehicles were to be added to the fleet each year.
The opening of the Monmouth Racetrack in June 1946, created additional duties
for the Department, requiring the presence of 18 troopers for traffic and detective
work. Shortly thereafter, Atlantic City and Garden State Racetracks opened,
requiring a similar contingent of troopers.
The 25th Anniversary of the New Jersey State Police was celebrated on September
10, 1946. Department Headquarters and all substations were opened to the public
Accolades were bestowed upon the organization from many diverse groups and individuals.
Governor Walter Edge commended the members for their devotion to duty, their
alertness, and protection of the public over the last quarter century. He went
on to state: No branch of state government has a greater responsibility
to the public in the postwar years than the State Police, which performed such
a notable job of protecting the home front during the war.
Colonel Schoeffel, in congratulating the members, stated: Our accomplishments
throughout this quarter of a century have come at a high price -- 31 of our
colleagues have given their lives serving the citizens of the state, and so
we pay tribute to these men, as well as to their associates -- past and present,
who have made the organization what it is today.
The Department, proud of its accomplishments in handling large gatherings and
protecting dignitaries over the years, was called upon to provide security for
President Harry Truman during June 1947. The President visited New Jersey to
celebrate Princeton Universitys Bicentennial celebration. A large State
Police security detail of 150 members assisted the Secret Service during the
The reorganization of state government, the Department of State Police would
become a Division in the Department of Law and Public Safety. The Superintendent
would still be responsible for the control of the organization, but instead
of answering directly to the Governor, the Superintendent would now report to
the Attorney General. The reorganization was to become effective in 1948.
Beginning in December 1947 and continuing through May 1948, 26 State Police
Broadcasts were aired publicly over the WNJR radio program, New Jersey State
House Calling. Such diversified topics as organization and administrative work,
traffic, communications lab work, recruit training and firearms identification
were discussed by State Police administrators, including Colonel Schoeffel.
The public relations program helped to further acquaint the public with the
services the organization provided.
During 1948, in conjunction with the reorganization of the outfit, the State
Police Headquarters was moved from the city of Trenton to Wilburtha. Also, building
plans were underway to complete a new Headquarters Administration building and
dormitory building. The Headquarters Administration building was completed in
1949 and dedicated to Governor Alfred E. Driscoll. The dormitory building was
completed in 1950.
In February 1949, further modifications of the organization were made, with
the approval of the Governor. The Headquarters staff, formerly composed of several
Bureaus, was reorganized into staff Sections.
The State Bureau of Identification, the State Communications Bureau and the
Academy were designated as Service Commands. The three troops were reorganized
into Region A, South Jersey and Region B, North Jersey. The Regions were divided
into 11 districts, six in Region B and five in Region A.
In January 1949, with a reorganization of the traffic courts and the adoption
of a new uniform traffic ticket, the administration of justice in New Jersey
reached a new plateau of professionalism.
Just as the decade of the 1940's began, the close saw the international situation
again deteriorate as the United States began to prepare for war.