Scarsdale Police Department History

On September 3, 1908, a public meeting was held at the former Scarsdale Town hall to hear a report from the Committee on Police Protection. The committee, which consisted of David Welch, Charles Carpenter and Cleveland Dunn, reported that in view of large public improvements being conducted in and abut the town and other contemporary changes, the hiring of a policeman was justified. One of the main public improvements was the paving of the post road, which became an instant attraction to those owning an automobile. This frightened the town’s people who wanted their own policeman to enforce the traffic laws . The committee asked for a contribution of $15.00 per household for the purpose of hiring a policeman. The first Scarsdale officer to be hired was Benjamin V. Ruggerio in the spring of 1909. Ruggerio, an Italian immigrant from Salerno, resided in New York City. One of officer Ruggerio’s qualifications was that he had the ability to ride a motorcycle, which was a requirement. Officer Ruggerio also attended a prepatory school in New York City taking courses in detective studies and he was fluent in Italian. The town purchased its first motorcycle for under $300.00 (which included spare parts) to accommodate Officer Ruggerio, who patrolled the Post Road and arrested speeders. In those days fines could be as much as $50.00 . The second police officer to be hired was a former Westchester County Deputy Sheriff named Steven Smith (Nicknamed, Old Bejeesus) who began his career at 49 years of age. It has been said that Officer Smith made it a habit of visiting each new family as they moved into town. In 1910, Ruggerio was appointed Captain of Police (Chief) and Smith was appointed Sergeant. Ruggerio resigned in 1920 after a series of motorcycle accidents, which disabled him. As for Smith, he was promoted to lieutenant in 1921 and stayed on up until his death in 1934, he was 75 years old.

Three of Scarsdale's finest made the ultimate sacrifice while performing their duties.

In 1923 Sgt. John J. Harrison was shot and killed while trying to apprehend two automobile thieves. That same year, Ptl. Alonzo Doty was struck and killed by an automobile on Post Road. In 1956 Ptl. Charles Ackerly was shot and subsequently killed in the early morning hours while on a traffic stop. Since our inception ninety years ago, we have grown from a department of 2 men, 1 motorcycle and 1 phone, to a State and Nationally Accredited 45 person Law Enforcement Agency on the cutting edge of police technology.