Andrew “Andy” Polak served 34 years as a member of the Hudson Police Force, 26 of these years as Police Chief. For the year ending January 31, 1943 the Police Department operated with a budget of $3,200; including $1,826 salary for H.J. Connell as Chief, 13 part time officers earning .50 per hour, and expenses for operating the police cruiser. Of the police officers “Andy” logged the most hours; earning a salary of $350.50 for 701 hours! In April 1946 Officer Polak was appointed Chief after Chief Harry Connell resigned due to poor health. Chief Polak remained in that capacity until his retirement in October 1972.
In this weeks photo we see Officer “Andy” next to the Police Cruiser on the Derry Road in front of Goodwin’s Fried Clam Stand with Saint Patrick’s Cemetery in the background. Visible are the front wall of the cemetery, a house adjacent to the cemetery, and the corner of the roof of Goodwin’s Stand. Perhaps “Andy” was at “the stand” on town business as Fred T. Goodwin, proprietor, was one of the three Selectmen for the Town of Hudson.
Police activities for Chief Polak in the early years was much different than today. In addition to being Police Chief he was also the Health Officer, responsible for recording measles, mumps, and other infectious diseases. The mobile radio installed in the cruiser was receive only. Calls for service were dispatched to the Chief. After completing the call or if he needed additional personnel he would have to find a phone nearly to call in his report.
Chief Polak attended the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy in Washington, DC where he learned about all phases of police work and investigations including fingerprinting, photography, and shooting. The local Lions Club was able to sponsor this schooling for the benefit of the town.
During his time as Chief “Andy” and his department were instrumental in solving many major crimes in Hudson; here are a few. In 1958 a man reported that his wife was missing to an on duty officer at the Hudson Speedway. After investigations and questioning the huspand it was disclosed that he and his wife had argued and she had been murdered and was buried out of state.
The following year Hudson was the site of one of the largest robberies in the state up to the time. Three men entered Benson’s Wild Animal Farm, beat a watchman, bound and gagged an animal trainer, and opened the safe with a blowtorch removing $23,000. After 8 months and a five state investigation the crime was solved. No significant amount of money was recovered’ however a large number of other roberies were solved in connection with this investigation.
In 1968 the first bank robbery in Hudson occurred. The Indian Hean Bank, then located on Ferry Street near the site of the present Santander Bank, was robbed. The investigation of this $1,900 robberd was unsuccessful.
In 2000, during a ceremony to recognize retired Chief Polak at the Historical Society, he donated his police uniform to the Society to be retained as part of our town’s history. Information for this article is from the book Town in Transition, Hudson, NH and from the Hudson, NH Town Report for the year ending January 31, 1943, Copies of the Town in Transition are available for purchase from the Historical Society. The photograph is from the Society’s collection and was a donation from Celia Polak, daughter of the Chief.