Charlestown Police Department - Established 1931

The first Town Meeting of the newly incorporated Town of Charlestown was held on September 4th, 1738. At that meeting, the first Town Sergeant (Nathaniel Potter) and the first Town Constables (James York and John Kenyon Jr.) were elected.

No known documents exist referencing law enforcement in the Town of Charlestown from that first meeting in 1738 to the mid 1800’s. Town documents again begin showing the appointed “Constables” and/or “Town Sergeants” in Town Council records in 1876. Constables and Town Sergeants were appointed yearly by the sitting Town Council to deliver paperwork and monitor town roads for deficiencies.

In 1881, the Town Council began officially appointing 3 to 6 Constables and Town Sergeants a year as the town grew and more official duties were added to their responsibilities. There was no organized Police Department during this period and the Constables and Town Sergeants answered directly to the Town Council.

In 1912, the Town Council appointed a part-time Chief of Police to oversee the Constable and Town Sergeant responsibilities. Chief Robert P. Day, who had been a Constable for years, was appointed the first Chief of Police. From 1912 to 1931, the Town Council continued to appoint several Constables and Town Sergeants a year under the supervision of Chief Day.

In 1931, the Town Council official organized and established the Charlestown Police Department under the command of Chief Day. Records show the Town Council added a $900.00 funding line into the new budget for “Police Protection” and authorized the purchase of new police badges, supplies and uniforms. Chief Day continued to serve as Chief of Police for the newly organized Charlestown Police Department until 1943.

After serving 31 years as Chief of Police, Chief Day retired in 1943 and Octavio Panciera was appointed Chief of Police. Chief Panciera served as Chief of Police from 1944 to 1948. Very little is known about Chief Panciera. There are no known photographs of him or where he lived in town. He was replaced in 1949 by Chief Raymond Richards. Chief Panciera would do a short 2nd term as Chief of Police from 1951 to 1953 before Chief Richards took charge again in 1953 and remained Chief for another 23 years before retiring in 1976. During his tenure, Chief Richards was promoted to full-time making him the first full-time Charlestown Police Officer in 1961. In 1962, Chief Richards hired two full-time Police Officers bringing the department to three full-time Officers along with several part-time Officers.

Two high-ranking Rhode Island State Troopers, Captain Louis Clark and Lieutenant Richard Quinn would oversee the Police Department as Interim Police Chiefs in 1976 and 1977 before State Police Lieutenant Gerald DiChristofaro was appointed Chief of Police in 1977. Under Chief DiChristofaro’s term, the Charlestown Police Department hired several more full-time Police Officers, shifting the department to a full-time, 24-hour Police Department.

Narragansett Police Lieutenant Michael Brady, hired as Chief of Police in 1988, continued to increase the size of the Police Department to 18 full-time members before his retirement in 1998. Charlestown Police Sergeant Thomas Sharkey was promoted to Chief of Police in 1998 and oversaw the construction of the departments current Police Headquarters on Old Post Road across from Ninigret Park. During Chief Sharkey’s tenure, the department increased to 20 full-time Police Officers.

Charlestown Police Lieutenant Jack Shippee was promoted to Chief of Police in 2009 and served 3-years as Chief retiring in 2012. South Kingstown Police Captain Jeff Allen was hired as Chief of Police in 2012. Under Chief Allen’s tenure, the Charlestown Police Department received Rhode Island Police Accreditation status under the Rhode Island Police Accreditation Commission.

The current Police Department, under the command of Chief Michael Paliotta, consists of 21 full-time Police Officers, 8 part-time Police Officers, 5 Emergency Dispatchers, 15 Traffic Constables, 4 Harbormasters, 1 Animal Control Officer and 2 Administrative Assistants.