The North Tonawanda Police Department was organized April 20, 1888, with 2 patrolmen under the command of Chief Charles Kohler, with the primary functions of improving the quality of life for the residents by controlling drunks and vagrants, and to watch for fire in the mighty lumber yards at night. The police station was located at the YMCA building, at the corner of Main and Tremont Streets. Born in Wheatfield, August 5, 1857, Charles Kohler served on the police force of North Tonawanda for six years, some reports stating five of which he was chief. There are conflicting accounts however that say in 1892 he was elected police justice for four years and in 1896 he was re-elected for four years more. In the spring of 1897 he was legislated out of office by the incorporation of North Tonawanda as a city and six weeks later elected supervisor in the First ward.
Other reports show a man by the name of John Kelly being appointed chief of police April 16, 1890, his predecessor Charles Kohler then being assigned as a constable along with John Ryan, historically thought to be the city's second police chief (see excerpt from the Buffalo Evening News above-left). By 1896, the force consisted of 6 patrolmen and a sergeant, under the leadership of Chief John F. Ryan. Formal rules and regulations for the department were adopted by the Village Board on April 24, 1900. The City’s first traffic signal was installed around this time to control the influx of vehicular traffic. On May 22, 1919, the department obtained its first mechanized patrol vehicle, a motorcycle operated by patrolman Albert Kasbaum. Approximately three months later, on August 18, 1919, the machine contributed to his death, when he was shot by the operator of a stolen vehicle on Niagara Falls Boulevard.
On November 1925, Frank X. Kinzly was appointed Chief to oversee 4 sergeants and 6
patrolmen. Prohibition was in full swing and the department was busy enforcing the unpopular law. Reports indicate Kinzly was under investigation for aiding and abetting liquor smuggling, a charge Kinzly emphatically denied. He was a thirty-three year veteran of the police department. It was reported that he would be charged and a trial would be held in October 1925, but little has been found indicating if such actions took place. However, in November 1925, officer Frederick Hoefert was appointed acting chief, a position he would maintain until his official appointment on May 6th, 1927.
In May 1927, Frederick Hoefert was appointed Chief. In May 1929, the police station moved from the YMCA building at Main and Tremont to the new City Hall at 216 Payne Avenue. One of the great controversies over the move was complaints from citizens that the outside lights at the old station were green while white lights had been installed at the new station.
In January 1946, Norris E. Gillespie was named Chief, the rank of sergeant was abolished and 3 Civil Service Captains were appointed. One such captain, Captain Beilein, died in the line of duty on his 58th birthday, October 10, 1949, when he was overcome by toxic fumes in a house on Lousia Parkway. A one-way radio transmission system, from the police station to the police car, was installed. This was soon replaced with 2-way radios.
Patrick F. Grimaldi was appointed Chief May 1, 1951, to head a force of 40 officers. The present Auxiliary Police organization was formed in May 1951, with over 85 citizen volunteers under the leadership of Captain Robert E. Butler. The New York State standardized Basic Police Training was instituted in 1965 and the first canine, “Prince Von Bruno," a German Shepherd joined the force. School crossing guards replaced the four-way stop signs that police officers had to roll in and out of the street on school days. Modern communication systems put to rest the antiquated hardwire call box with a flashing red light atop and the police shoulder patch became part of the uniform in 1969.
Under Chief Frank P. Malone, appointed April 5, 1971, further modernization took place. The New York state-wide teletype system was replaced with a nationwide computer based system for motor vehicle and operator information, and "wants and warrants" on individuals. DWI breath testing equipment came into use and radar was used to check the speed of motor vehicles. Compact, hand-held two-way radios were becoming available and a tape recorder captured telephone and radio messages to and from headquarters. The jail was remodeled and a pistol range was built. (Officers previously practiced in the garage at City Hall, much to the annoyance of the neighbors.) The position of Drug Enforcement Officer was instituted to combat a new social and criminal problem, use of illicit drugs.
The eighth* chief, Lloyd C. Graves, was appointed July 26, 1985 to a department with 6 captains, 4 lieutenants, 34 uniform patrol officers, 4 detectives (including drug enforcement), 2 juvenile aid officers, a public safety officer, a range officer, a court security officer, a traffic enforcement officer, a police automotive mechanic, 3 full time clerks, 4 part time police matrons, 2 part time clerks, 23 school crossing guards, and 35 auxiliary police officers. On November 25, 1986, the Enhanced
9-1-1 emergency telephone system became a reality. The first Neighborhood Watch meeting was conducted in the fall of 1987 by a group of Wurlitzer Park residents. The concept and results were so outstanding that the program spread city wide. The first D.A.R.E. class in the city was conducted in the fall of 1990. On April 6, 1990, the Common Council authorized the second Departmental canine, “Abby," a bloodhound.
In December 1999, Carl W. Stiles was appointed chief of police. Chief Stiles came through the ranks of the department as patrol officer, range officer, traffic officer, Emergency Response Team leader, lieutenant, and captain. Immediately upon taking office, Chief Stiles began a total restructuring of the department including the hiring, training and implementation of civilian dispatchers, relieving more officers for patrol duty.
Believing that morale is based on proper leadership, discipline and personal recognition, Chief Stiles created NTPD’s current motto of “Second to None”. He created an officer recognition and awards program, and implemented an official swearing in ceremony for all new hires along with a recognition ceremony for all promotions. With a plain, outdated patch on officer’s uniforms, Chief Stiles selected a committee which designed a new patch unique to our city to replace the old ones.
Chief Stiles secured a grant to fully fund the creation of a full-time K-9 officer, providing the department with a dog capable of searches, apprehensions, and drug detection.
Working with the City of Tonawanda Police, Chief Stiles created a multi-jurisdictional Emergency Response Team, ensuring the immediate availability of an adequate number of trained officers to handle emergency situations.
Chief Szukala became the 10th chief on August 22, 2003 after the retirement of Chief Carl Stiles. Continuing the tradition of moving the department forward, Chief Szukala obtained a grant from New York State to refurbish and outfit a room at the newly acquired Niagara County Building to be used as a police training facility; not only for the North Tonawanda Police Department but for the Western New York police community. Training that was rare to the western part of the state was now available.
Following many years of dormancy, the Neighborhood Watch program was restarted after meeting with influential residents that wished to be part of making their community safer. During the restart of this program new technology was presented to the public. Street mounted cameras were purchased and installed at strategic downtown locations to better monitor a revitalized Webster St.
Accountability was also a main focus when, for the first time, officers began wearing body cameras while on duty.
Chief Hall, who grew up in North Tonawanda, started as a patrolman in 1990 and worked his way up to chief of detectives before being selected as police chief by Mayor Ortt, in 2013 to succeed Randy Szukala, who left to pursue other opportunities. Hall’s resume stretches more than 30 pages, and includes multiple commendations for his work over the years, but he is humble in demeanor.
He was instrumental in obtaining state and federal grants to improve equipment and programs to better the department. He brought back staff meetings to improve communications in the department.
Roger Zgolak began his career with the North Tonawanda Police Department August 23, 1985. Soon after his hiring, he attended and subsequently graduated from the Erie County Central Police Services Law Enforcement Training Academy. Roger was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in 1998 and worked as the Officer in Charge for the afternoon shift. Four years later, in 2002, Roger attained the rank of Captain and was assigned as the Captain of the Patrol Division. In July 2017, Zgolak was sworn in as North Tonawanda's newest Police Chief, taking over for retiring Chief William Hall.
In October 2017, Zgolak worked with local school officials to establish an anti-bullying law.
In 2018, along with Senetor Rob Ortt, North Tonawanda Superintendent, Gregory Woytila, and Mayor of the City of North Tonawanda, Arthur Pappas, Zgolak was instrumental in securing state funds for the North Tonawanda School District’s use toward a School Resource Officer (SRO).
Tom Krantz began his career with the North Tonawanda Police Department on January 21, 1991, a patrol officer assigned badge #147. In 1999, Tom was promoted to Detective and worked in the bureau until January 21, 2002, the 11th anniversary of his career with NTPD, when he was promoted to Patrol Lieutenant. After 19 years with the Department, Tom was promoted to Captain of the Training Division on April 30, 2010, where he remained until further promotion to Chief of Detectives and another return to the Bureau.
Six months into his 29th year on the force, Tom replaced Roger Zgolak as the newly appointed Chief of Police on June 26, 2020. It was during Tom’s much earned time as Chief that he saw the conviction of Joseph Belstadt for the 1993 murder of Mandy Steingasser, a 25 year old cold case that Tom had spent countless hours investigating over the course of his career.
Without Tom’s dedicated police work, which included painstakingly going over every detail of the case spanning that 25 years, the City of North Tonawanda’s most notorious crime may have never been solved.
In March 2022, Keith T. Glass was appointed provisional chief of police. During his time, he has re-designed several areas of the police department which were in desperate need of updating.
Along with the mayor, he brought active shooter training to the residents of North Tonawanda and surrounding cities. This quickly gained popularity and the program continues to grow within our city, as well as other local departments conducting similar training in their communities.
Under Chief Glass, the police matron program was restructured, beginning with a pay raise that was sought after and secured. Wages which better reflected our current times, and the importance of the position caused less turnaround in the program. Matrons were also given the responsibility of overseeing male prisoners, as well as females, a move that would secure the safety of all prisoners, as well as being a cost savings to the city.
In December 2022, Chief Glass assisted in forming a committee to evaluate the safety and security of employees and residents in the city hall building. Due to age of the building, much needed security updates are needed and changes are due to be rolled out in 2023.