From 1782 to 1860 Northampton residents relied on the services of the Northampton Society for the Thieves and Robbers for their protection. This was an organization of businessmen, comprised of a Clerk, a Treasurer, a Board of Directors and twelve pursuers. For a fee of $2.00 per year, this group provided protection for your property against thieves and robbers. Unfortunately, this organization was no longer in operation when in January of 1876, the Northampton National Bank was burglarized. The notorious and skilled burglars were able to pull off such a heist because the two night patrolmen employed by the town had gone home at 4:00 AM. In 1884, one of the early acts of the first Mayor of the newly chartered City of Northampton, was to establish a police department. Mayor Benjamin E. Cook appointed Colonel Joseph E. Parsons as the first Chief of Police in February of that year. Along with his two night policemen, his mission was to keep order, to remove all suspected persons and to protect property from loss or damage.
As the City of Northampton grew and changed, so too did it's police department. In 1917 we received our first police automobile. In that same year the Center Street School was converted to a police station. In 1965, the second police station was constructed in an adjacent lot on Center Street. In 2012, the department moved into the current building at 29 Center Street.
In its history the Northampton Police Department has led the way in many advances in the field of police services. Northampton was the first police department in Western Massachusetts to have the 911 phone system and among the first to offer videotaped booking for use in court proceedings. In more recent years, Northampton was the first community in Massachusetts to replicate the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program (DARE). In 1994, Northampton offered its first Citizen Police Academy.
In 2012 we transitioned into our new, state of the art, police facility. The building has allowed us to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of police operations and administration.
In 2015 former Chief Russell P. Sienkiewicz ended his 37 year career with NPD. He retired after serving as chief for 21 years. At that time Jody D. Kasper, the Captain of Operations at the time, was selected to lead the department. She was sworn in on June 30, 2015, and became the first female Police Chief of NPD and only the ninth active female Police Chief in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Since 2015, the Department continued to lead the way in many areas of policing. In 2016, embracing a harm reduction approach to addiction, NPD introduced the Drug Addiction and Recovery Team. The DART program provides support and referral services to individuals facing addiction. In 2016, committed to accountability and transparency, the Department became only the 55th police agency in the nation and the first in Massachusetts to join President Obama's White House Police Open Data Initiative. In 2017, the Department implemented a Comfort Dog program to assist with de-escalation and support for victims and witnesses of trauma. Also in 2017, the Department joined and completed the IACP's One Mind Campaign. This national initiative required that the Department train100% of our staff in Mental Health First Aid and have policies that support best practicies when responding to those in crisis. In 2019, in support of transparency and data collection specific to how officers respond to resistance, the Department joined the FBI Use of Force Data Collection effort and began contributing information in order to provide clear data on how often police use force that results in death or serious bodily injury. In 2020, recognizing the need for justice alternatives, the Department implemented a Restorative Justice program. This enables the Department to use a community based program as an alternative to traditional case resolution through the court system.