1918-World War II
At the incorporation in 1908, Floral Park had a police force of two men-their names were Gilbert L. Wright and
George Hurrel. Their equipment consisted, according to best available records, of a pistol, a night stick, and a
good pair of shoes. They must have loved their work because they didn't get paid. They were not called policemen
at the time but deputy sheriffs. They worked on a part-time basis and were called out only when needed, they
were supplemented by the Nassau County Sheriff's Office. Prior to incorporation, two private groups known as
"Protective Associations" had formed and charged $1.00 per month to offer protection to residents. Many
residents opted to join both groups.
In 1918, the Floral Park Police Department was established as the first full-time police officers, Al Surprise and
James Peterson, were appointed. A booth on the southeast corner of South Tyson Avenue and Jericho Turnpike
was set up as Police Headquarters. In 1926 Robert Ferris was appointed the first Police Chief. Prior to his
appointment the department was headed by Sergeant Al Surprise from 1918 to 1924, and then by Sergeant
James Peterson from 1924 to 1926. In 1927 Police Headquarters was moved to a vacant store at 160 Jericho
Turnpike in the Pickenpack building with equipment consisting of a desk and detention cell.
Al Surprise, Floral Park's first and only mounted policeman, was quite a noticeable figure directing traffic at the
intersection of Tyson Avenue and Jericho Turnpike astride his horse, with nightstick in hand. Unfortunately, one
summer day the horse broke loose, wandered onto the Long Island Railroad tracks where he was struck by a
train and killed. His horse was replaced with a one-cylinder motorcycle that he used to become a reported
"nemesis to speeders" on Jericho Turnpike. However, misfortune came Al's way again as the motorcycle's engine
seized into a hunk of set steel after a lengthy pursuit of a speeding motorcycle that led him down Jericho Turnpike
into Westbury, where the speeding cycle was finally able to evade apprehension.
At a special meeting in 1927, the Village Board appropriated $100 for the purchase of a used Model T Ford
roadster. This was the first police car purchased by the Village and it served the department until 1929, when the
first new car, a Chevrolet roadster, was purchased for its use.
Chief James Humphrey took charge of the police department in 1928, succeeding Chief Ferris. During his tenure
in 1936, Police Headquarters was moved again to its current location in Village Hall which had been completed
that year. At the time of his appointment, the Village had been steadily growing. The population had increased
from 2,097 in 1920 to 10,016 in 1930, roads were being paved around the village and the Police Department
continued to grow. There was little growth, however, through the 1930's due to the Great Depression. The first
years of the 1940's remained quiet in the village as well, as many of the residents served in the armed forces during
World War II.