Changes in Aberdeen Police Department over the years

The Aberdeen Room always enjoys getting assistance with extensive record keeping by donors who have been very active in civic affairs in the Aberdeen area. At times we receive help from those who have worked for city government and are very knowledgeable about their work.

We were very fortunate to have a visit by retired First Sgt. James Testerman from the Aberdeen Police Department. He brought with him, as a donation, a binder containing pictures and information about the Aberdeen Police Department, from which he had retired after 39 years and 28 days. Sgt. Testerman joined the force on June 6, 1972 and retired on June 30, 2011.

The Aberdeen Room has an Aberdeen Police Department exhibit and this donation is an excellent addition. We are very grateful to have some photos that we did not have for our archives.

Our first recollection of law enforcement in Aberdeen is of Chief of Police "Ben" Ray and the donated binder begins with photos of "Ben" who served from 1919 until 1965. The Aberdeen Room has a large portrait of our first "chief" in the exhibit, along with some badges and honors.

Long before we remember, the person who performed the function of law enforcement was known as town bailiff. Now, that position is known as chief of police, and has been held by Charles Thompson, Frank Doyle, John Temple, Charles Shear, John Bowman, Mack Bowman, James "Ben" Ray, Chester Roberts, William Krouse, Arthur Elliott, Lemuel Porter, John Jolley, Randy Rudy and present Chief Henry G. Trabert.

But it was Chief Ray who saw the department grow from just one man to a full service police department.

The first jail was known as the "dungeon" or "station house" that dated back long before 1892, when the town was incorporated. It only contained two cells, because there wasn't that much crime in those days. That building, remodeled, still stands on Howard Street.

After the stone town office was built at the northwest corner of West Bel Air Avenue and Route 40 (now Cecil Bank and former Ripken Museum) the police department moved into that building in 1936. Then, in 1948 the police department moved again to a new jail and court facilities in the firehouse.

We will continue with the progress of our police department in our next column. In the meantime, all are welcome to visit the Aberdeen Room at 18 Howard St., call 410-272-6325 or email at and share some memories of our law enforcement over the years.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad