The Sharon Police Department will enjoy cake Friday for capturing a major milestone.
It was 100 years ago Friday, on May 11, 1911 that Sharon's first appointed police chief took office: Hervey Derry, whose great-great-grandson, Richard Derry, is a Sharon patrol officer, Deputy Police Chief J.J. McGrath says.
McGrath says his research into the department's history the past few years uncovered the milestone.
And toward celebrating such history, McGrath has proposed establishing a police and fire museum at the current Sharon public schools' central office building at 1 School St.
The school administration will move to new space at the Sharon Middle School, possibly later this year, McGrath says. The quarters are part of the middle school renovation and addition project.
The police station, on South Main Street, has display cases filled with badges, handcuffs and the like from Sharon and other municipal and state departments. The items were either donated or purchased, McGrath says.
Selectmen have asked to meet with the school committee to discuss the school building's reuse.
Still, Sharon's police history celebration starts Friday.
"Just a few years ago, we didn't even know when the department started," McGrath says.
"The 100-year anniversary, for any organization, for the purposes of pride, it's very important that you have something to celebrate.
"We have grown to the police department we are today, which is my opinion, we're probably the best police department in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for lots of different reasons. We have a fantastic police department.
"And all of this happened because of the officers who served before us and made all the different sacrifices, and the hard work that they put in: the chiefs and the patrolmen and the sergeants and so forth, who made all of the different advances they've made."
McGrath said he determined the department's centennial using three criteria: the presence of "sworn appointed or elected officers"; an appointed or elected chief or department head; and Sharon having an annual police budget.
"A history buff my entire life," McGrath gives Sharon Police history presentations in the community, and says he is writing a book about the department's history.
Establishing a police and fire museum, preferably at 1 School St., is his next project.
"It's the perfect location," says McGrath, who's in his 26th year on the Sharon department.
"We've needed something for a very long time to attract different people to the center of town, something that makes the center of town a little bit nicer. A fire-police museum would bring in all kinds of civic groups."
The Sharon Historical Society museum is one block away, on High Street, he notes.
The historical society has expressed interest in participating, McGrath says.
It's possible that historical society membership dues would support both museums, he says. The police and fire departments also would do an annual fundraiser, something that's "fast-paced and would keep people amused," he says.
Some police stations have "beautiful displays" of call boxes and other historic items in their lobbies, McGrath says.
The Sharon station lacks this feature, he says.
"I've always felt it was something that was missing from this department for the purposes of building morale and espirit de corps, making you feel that you belong to something much bigger than yourself," McGrath says.