Part time police work
During the early 20th century, it was not uncommon for young men
to have a variety of law enforcement positions. In many instances
these positions were but part-time and were not held in high regard.
In Warwick, police constables and officers were hired as security
guards to protect private property and to patrol the various amusement
Chief Theodore S. Andrews
As early as 1902, Warwick was looking for a more substantial force, however, and appointed Theodore S. Andrews as its chief of police. Andrews was given a salary of $500 per year and was empowered to hire officers. One of the men who worked for him was John B. Gendron, who was killed in the line of duty. Andrews, while chief of police in Warwick, was also a deputy sheriff under High Sheriff Michael B. Lynch. Andrews maintained that position until 1929, when Lynch retired and Andrews became High Sheriff of Kent County.
During Andrews’ tenure as police chief in Warwick, the town had four police stations and an officer was placed in charge of each. So minor was that position, however, that it was noted that these officers were to perform janitorial duties as well as to enforce the law.
In 1913, the General Laws of the State of Rhode Island required “Police Commissioners” in the various municipalities and Warwick came closer to having a force which consisted of more than “special constables” at Rocky Point, Oakland Beach and the mills.
Owen on the beat
The late Anne Crawford Allen Holst, one of Warwick’s most meticulous historians, noted that in 1916, “young fellows in Apponaug were chanting a sort of folk song….” Mrs. Holst remembered these words:
Oh, you can’t stand on the sidewalk,
You can’t stand in the street,
You can’t stand under the LEK’tric light
When Owen’s on the beat.
Mrs. Holst noted that the use of the word beat infers a regular
patrol and that the Owen referred to was Owen Lynch, one of the
sons of High Sheriff Michael B.Lynch. The low pay for a policeman
on the beat made it necessary for Owen and his brother Thomas to
spend most of their time in other areas. Owen engaged in construction
and Thomas Lynch conducted a soda manufacturing business in Apponaug,
was a member of the Warwick Town Council, served on the Board of
Tax Assessors and ran a successful farm.
Many young men regarded their tour of duty at Rocky Point as a start of their police careers. Not only did Owen and Thomas Lynch serve in that capacity, but also so did Michael Riley, Eddie McMahon, Forrest Sprague and James F. Lynch. Both Forrest Sprague and James Lynch later served as police chiefs in Warwick. It was not until Michael B. Lynch's grandson, James F. Lynch, became a regular police officer in 1935 however, that a Lynch again made police work his major occupation.
James F. Lynch
James F. Lynch, like his grandfather, was a special officer at Rocky Point. He began his career in 1933 and within a year, his talent for police work helped place him in charge of the police detail at the resort. James F. Lynch served as a regular patrolman for four years and was promoted to sergeant in 1939. He remained sergeant for the next fourteen years and it was while he held this rank that he purchased the large building at 1331 Greenwich Avenue that had been Carroll's Shamrock Cafe and Bengtsen's Bar and Grill. Along with his wife and five children. Sergeant Lynch moved into the rambling house and converted the former bar and grill into an ice-cream parlor.
Not long after Lynch opened his ice-cream parlor, another Lynch, Michael W. Lynch, James' brother, also decided to enter police work. Michael W. Lynch became a Sergeant on the Warwick Police Force and was instrumental in helping to organize the Fraternal Order Of Police in Warwick. The Lynch brothers were also active in obtaining the FOP Lodge on Tanner Avenue.