A Brief History of Canaan Law Enforcement  

Long before Canaan saw its Police Court established in 1895, law and order was maintained on the streets of our town. As early as 1869, when the first Mascoma Valley Fair was held, special police were appointed to keep things orderly during the entertainment. It was not uncommon for some of our local boys to indulge in too much cider among other things. After spending a night in “Lock-Up” and paying $1.00 for costs, they were on their way.

In the 1880’s and 90’s, Napoleon J. Hill, Charles O. Barney and Warren B. Richardson comprised the town’s law enforcement. By 1900, Canaan’s own Claude M. Murray was Sheriff and was noted as Special Police. He also served the community as Selectman and Treasurer. Murray was our first Chief of Police, a position he held for over three decades. Some of our Special Police of those days were; Thomas B. DeCato, Frank Hill, Nathan J. Derush, George W. Chase, Frank H. Bogardus, Charlie Ruggles, Arthur W. Hutchinson, Perley J. Columbia, Alfred M. Shackford, and Harris J, Goss to name only a few.

In 1933, Eugene F. Lorden, another Canaan native, became our second Chief. During Lorden’s term in office, James Q. Ricard and Betty Fleetham served as Grafton County Deputy Sheriff’s. Ricard, along with Gordon “Rip” Lary, were both long time Special Police Officers. When Gene retired in 1962, he was the oldest Police Chief in New England. He had compiled 40 years of Police work in Canaan with 29 years as Chief.

n March of 1962, E. John Zani was elected Chief of Police with a salary of $500 and his police dog named Seba. Chief Zani served until 1970 when Ernest Smith was elected the Chief of Police.

In 1971 under Chief Smith, Canaan attained its first cruiser; a 1971 Ford Galaxie. By 1979, Chief Smith retired for health reasons. Raymond Merritt assumed Chief duties until Jonathan Putnam took over the role in 1980.

Under Chief Putnam the police department moved from the basement of the Town Hall to the old fire station located next door. Putnam served until 1994 when Chief William MacDonald was elected as Chief of Police. MacDonald served until 1995 when Jim McGonigle came in on a temporary basis.

In 1996, Anthony Piscopo was elected Chief. At the time, he was the youngest Police Chief in New Hampshire. Canaan now had 3 full-time and 7 part-time officers at full strength. Also in that year, Canaan added the 1 st four-wheel drive vehicle to its fleet. In 1998, Canaan added its 1 st full-time K9 Unit with K9 Kipper and then K9 Carmen, both under Sgt. Timothy Cohen.

Chief Piscopo served until 2000 when Timothy Cohen was appointed interim Chief. Chief Cohen was appointed Canaan first full-time officer for the Mascoma School system in 2000 and the fourth full-time officer on Canaan’s roster.

In January 2001, the Police Department moved from the Church Street location to 52 Route 118 next the Canaan Fire Department.

April 2006 Chief Cohen moved onto Lebanon Police Department as Lieutenant. Sgt. Samuel W. Frank II was appointed as Chief of Police.

The Overdreamer