Until the end of the 19th century the town of Ludlow had no Police Department and no Fire Department. Most issues were handled by those involved or perhaps a neighborhood. For example, in these early days the only way to fight a fire was to have a line of people passing buckets of water from a source of water to those fighting the fire. If a serious crime were committed, an elected constable or perhaps the county sheriff would deal with it. At this time there was also no hospital that the sick could be taken to and families relied on family doctors that would make house visits. This all changed once the Ludlow Mills started to transform what was a small rural town into a busy mill town.
The first constables in the town of Ludlow were elected during the first town meeting. They were John Sikes and Jacob Cooley. These constables were charged with collecting unpaid taxes, keeping the peace, serving papers issued by judges and to notify those in the town when town meetings would occur. It wasn't until 1870, that the first police officer, Storrs Stebbins, was hired by the board of selectmen. For the next few decades more police officers would be added to the force, all part-time until 1900 when the first full-time police officer was hired. This was Hall E. Storer, who had already been a constable in Ludlow for about 3 years. The selectmen also bought a steel cage during the same year for police use and had it installed in the Joy Building. In 1907, William Consedine was also hired as a full-time police officer and Storer was promoted to chief of police. To ensure that these two police officers made their patrol routes, the police would carry watchman's clocks with them and visit each of the watchman's clock stations around town at least once for every two hours of the day (for a more detailed description of how this system worked you can visit this site). The first annual police report filed by the Ludlow Police was in 1913 and included such offences as possessing watered down milk with the intent to sell it and catching short fish. In 1924, the police department gained a standing under state law, having been only a town agency since then and in 1925 they obtained their first police car and also started to use motorcycles at around this time. At this time the police department was comprised of a sergeant, seven patrol officers, and four reserve police officers. The next year the watchman's clock system was discontinued as the police now had call boxes for the officers to report in to the station, which was located in the building that is at 109 Center Street near Allfaze Auto Repair today. Flashing beacons located around the town would later be installed as well. These would signal the police officers to return to the station, when they were flashing.
The prohibition of alcohol from 1920 to 1933 had a very large affect on the town of Ludlow and the police department at the time. During this time bootleggers, those who made or sold alcoholic beverages illegally, would become much more common. Even today residents believe that certain old roads in the woods of Ludlow were used by bootleggers. During this time, what was probably the biggest scandal in Ludlow took place. In 1927, the state police led a raid on a Ludlow farm on Rood Street in which they discovered a very large amount of alcohol along with big, expensive stills. Evidence collected during the investigation led to charges being brought against the chief of police (Joseph Fouche), a fellow police officer (Thomas Laughran), two selectmen (James Flynn and Thomas Hyland) and a highway surveyor (Ashley Boucher). It was believed that this group of men had conspired to allow the operations to continue unhindered by the police and that a bribe was also accepted. In the end, only the two selectmen and the police officer were found to be guilty and the police chief and highway surveyor were exonerated. Unfortunately for the police chief, however, shortly after getting his job back he was fired by the remaining selectmen due to pressure from the town's citizens.
After Fouche was fired from his job, Sergeant Henry Benway became the acting chief of police until the selectmen gave Raymond Miller the position in 1928. During the time that Miller was police chief, the selectmen had control over the police department. Due to this, the relationship between the chief of police and the selectmen started to deteriorate. The selectmen told Miller not to hand over any cases to the prosecutors without first informing the selectmen (although there is a reason for this action under the trial court section) and also demanded that he return a motorcycle that was bought by the police department. The selectmen said that it was not approved, while Miller said that it was. Eventually, the selectmen fired Miller in 1933.
The next chief of police to be chosen by the selectmen would be James Raiche from Springfield. During his time as chief of police, Raiche, made many improvements to the police department. Raiche created the first detective bureau, improved the police presence in the more rural parts of town, had a short wave radio installed at the station, and equipped police officers with tear gas. Despite all of these accomplishments Raiche's time as Ludlow's police chief would be brief. Once prohibition ended, there were complaints about the enforcement of the new liquor laws. Due to public pressure, the selectmen told Raiche to "perk up" on enforcing the laws at places where liquor was sold. Raiche then had a police officer stationed at all liquor establishments to report any liquor violations, which subsequently led to complaints by the Ludlow Liquor and Malt Dealers' Association. They believed that the police officers stationed at the establishments was harassment and in 1934 the selectmen fired Raiche.
Finally, in 1937, the selectmen lost its powers over the Police Department at a town meeting and over the years the police department would gain new equipment and undergo many more changes to adapt to the growth of the town. In 1967, the police station was moved to its current location on the corner of Center and Chapin Streets and in the 1990's this complex was heavily renovated and modernized. As Ludlow continues to grow, the need for law enforcement continues to grow. What started just two constables when the town was created has now evolved into a full-time police department with many people working to keep the town safe.
In 1875 the state created a trial court in Ludlow due to the increase in minor offences and the expense of having officers travel to Springfield to attend court. The trial court would handle cases such as disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. The justice of the court also had the power to issue warrants to search property and make arrests. The first justice was John Padelford Hubbard and court sessions would be held once a week in a room in the back of the C. S. Browning Drug Store, which was in the Joy Building on Center Street (then North Street). After Hubbard died, the next justice, Charles Grosvenor, moved the trial court to his drug store on Hubbard Street until the trial court was disbanded in 1892 due to a drop in court cases. Then in 1905 as the population in Ludlow grew due to the mills, the trial court was reactivated in Ludlow.
The trial court would later become the center of attention when George Haas became appointed its justice. After repeated attempts by the selectmen failed to prevent Haas from being reappointed, due to allegedly abusing his powers, the selectmen did the only thing that they could do. Although they could not remove Haas from power, they were able to refuse him services. In 1930, the selectmen had the locks changed on the courtroom (located in the Joy building), refused to give Haas a prosecuting attorney, and ordered the chief of police (Miller) to get approval before taking any cases to Haas. Miller was also told to deny Haas the use of the telephone in the building. Eventually Haas was allowed to set up his courtroom on a different floor of the Joy Building where the courtroom would remain until the trial court of Ludlow was discontinued. Despite all of the selectmen's efforts to dispose of Haas, he was appointed to a fourth term by the state, after an investigation found no evidence of him abusing his powers. Finally, in 1937 Haas was not reappointed by the new governor of Massachusetts. Only two more men would serve as justices (Edward Kane and James Cormack) before the trial court of Ludlow was discontinued in 1953 due to a reorganization of the court system.
For about 100 years, the town of Ludlow had no Fire Department. Instead, if a fire were to occur in Ludlow, anyone nearby would come to the scene with a bucket and form a line to the nearest source of water. The buckets were filled with water and passed down the line to be poured onto the fire and then passed back down a different line to be refilled. This method of fighting fires was usually ineffective but was the only thing that the residents could do at the time. The first organized fire fighters in Ludlow were organized in the late 1880s as the Ludlow Manufacturing Company's fire brigade. Their purpose was mainly to protect company assets and consisted of hand-drawn hose carts, some with ladders, that were stored in 6 to 8 houses built for them near the mills.
In 1895, four fire hydrants were installed on what is today Center Street and in 1896 the town bought its own hose cart to fight fires with. The town would still, however, have to depend on the firefighters from the Ludlow Manufacturing Company brigade to use the new equipment as there was still no town run Fire Department at the time. In the subsequent years, more hydrants were installed and more equipment was bought to fight fires. This eventually led to the creation of the first town run fire department in 1910, called Hose Company Number 8. A fire station was also constructed at the corner of Mero and North Streets and 12 volunteer firemen were elected by the town. After 3 years of having two fire departments, the town decided to have only one town run Fire Department in town. In 1918 the town acquired all of the Ludlow Manufacturing Company's fire equipment. The first motorized fire truck in the town was built by Knox Motor Company in Springfield and bought by the Ludlow Manufacturing Company. In 1924, the town officially organized its own Fire Department under state law with Edward Stone as the first fire chief of the town Fire Department. It was not until 1967 that a new fire station would be constructed where the current Police and Fire Complex today stands.
Due to the large increase in the population of Ludlow and the lack of nearby medical facilities, the Ludlow Manufacturing Company built the Ludlow Hospital, which opened on July 3, 1908 with Dr. James Hannum in charge. Being one of the best equipped hospitals in the area at the time, it saw many patients in it's first few years. The first year it was opened, it saw 41 patients, in the second year there were 85, and in the third year there were 170 patients admitted to the hospital. Although it faced some threats of being shutdown in the 1950's, the Ludlow Hospital managed to stay in operation until the mid 1990's when it was closed after serving Ludlow for many decades. The building is currently being used by HealthSouth as a rehabilitation hospital although they plan to move into a new building to be constructed at the Ludlow Mills complex.