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Police Department

Page history last edited by John Healey 13 years ago


 Police in a Parade ca., 1913 (Dan Keleher Collection and Personnal Collection of Jean Galvin)


Police  Department 1   


Canton’s Police Department was founded in 1875 with $434, prior to its founding the town was patrolled by constables. Through the 1870s and 1880s the major laws enforced by the department concerned liquor and drunkenness; until 1900 there was no police chief, but in that year John Plunkett was appointed to the position until 1911 when he retired and Henry S. Galligan became chief, but lost the job after being convicted of drunkenness in 1912-1913. He was succeeded by John H. Flood who held the position until his death in 1935, at the time of his appointment the operating budget for the department was $3,000 and the first police car was purchased by the town in 1917 for $378.21 from Taylor’s Garage in Sharon. In the 1920s the department’s budget exceeded $10,000, as it focused on the enforcement of Prohibition and created the position of motorcycle officer to patrol the streets for traffic violations as the number of cars on the road increased. In 1931 the police department had moved from Bolivar Street to a new station on Revere Street, which was designed by Canton Architect Matthew Sullivan. William Whitty (Canton’s first motorcycle cop) was appointed chief in 1935. In 1949 Whitty retired and Joe Cunningham became chief until 1951 when he died and was replaced by Tom Galligan. In 1954 the town’s first sergeants were appointed in the persons of Dan Keleher and Jeremiah Kelleher and by 1959 the operating budget of the department was $106,000.


In 1964 John Ruane was appointed chief of police. In 1965 the town did not renew John Ruane’s appointment as chief and after questions of the appointment of Arthur Fitzgerald as Chief Dan Keleher was appointed chief of police. In 1967 as the operating budget reached $200,000 the town approved plans for a new police station and in 1969 the police department was unionized. In 1971 Dan Keleher (and became deputy chief) resigned as Canton Police Chief and was replaced by former chief John Ruane. In 1974 the police moved into new headquarters that it shared with the Fire Department, as its budget reached $750,000.John Ruane retired in 1976 and was replaced by Jeremiah Kelleher who served until his death in 1980 when he was replaced by Joe Buckley who held the post until 1986 when the department operating budget was $1,650,000. In 1986 John Ruane, Jr. was appointed Chief a post he served in until Peter Bright took over in 1995, overseeing the move of the department into new headquarters in the former Eliot School in 2004, serving until 2005 when Kenneth Berkowitz became chief.


Police Chiefs2



John Plunkett


Henry S. Galligan


John H. Flood


William Whitty


Joe Cunningham


John Ruane


Arthur Fitzgerald


Dan Keleher


John Ruane


Jeremiah Kelleher


Joe Buckley


John Ruane, Jr.


Peter Bright


Kenneth Berkowitz



Resources1and 2


Canton Comes of Age, 1797-1997, by Canton’s Bicentennial Committee, 171-182 (call no. 974.4 C) 


Town of Canton: Annual Town Report 1995


Town of Canton: Annual Town Report 2005


Canton Police Department, “Message from the Chief,” http://cantonpolice.com/index.cfm?pid=10253.


Canton Police Department, “Time Line in History for the Canton Police Department,” http://cantonpolice.com/index.cfm?pid=10264.  


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