Col. Joseph F. Carroll, the first head of the Baltimore City Police Department's narcotics unit, died Monday of congestive heart failure at Oak Crest Village retirement community in Carney. He was 88.
Colonel Carroll retired in 1977 as commander of the Criminal Investigation Division.
He headed the narcotics squad from its formation in 1951 until 1966, but had earlier been assigned to narcotics in the old Northwestern District, then at Pennsylvania Avenue and Dolphin Street.
Retired city Police Commissioner Frank J. Battaglia described Colonel Carroll as a "fine policeman" who did "an outstanding job."
In newspaper interviews over the years, Colonel Carroll's comments show the growth of the drug problem in Baltimore.
In 1955, he described drug peddling in Baltimore as "minor league stuff," and told of an addict taking a bus to Washington and returning with narcotics to sell.
The colonel said his squad made 264 arrests its first year, among them 18 people in their teens; and in 1954, 107 arrests, 16 involving people under 21, but no juveniles.
In 1959, Colonel Carroll still could say, "There is not one peddler on the street we don't have a hook into or are about to put one into."
However, by 1965, he was complaining, "There didn't used to be the steady flow of drugs into the city like there is today."
Noting, "We used to have this town in the palm of our hand," he said police made about twice as many narcotics arrests involving heroin, marijuana or barbiturates in the first three months of 1965 as in all of 1959.
Colonel Carroll was a Baltimore native who was educated in public schools.
His father, also Joseph F. Carroll, was a police sergeant who was killed Nov. 19, 1929, in a shootout in front of the old police headquarters at Fayette Street and the Fallsway between detectives and a suspect in a holdup and the shooting of a police officer in New York City.
Colonel Carroll, who entered the department in 1942, was a member of the Retired Police Benevolent Association, the Retired Baltimore City Police Association, the International Narcotics Enforcement Officers Association, the United States Section of the International Police Association, and Baltimore City Lodge 3 of the Fraternal Order of Police.
He was a member of Reformation Lutheran Church, the Centre Lodge of the Masons, the Scottish Rite and Boumi Temple and its Provost Guard, the Towson Shrine Club, and the Scimeter Club.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.
He is survived by his wife, the former Miriam Main.