Arthur Cornelius Jr.

Feb. 9, 1961 - Aug. 4, 1967
Arthur Cornelius Jr.

One era ended and another began with the retirement of Superintendent McGarvey, the last of the original NYSP "camp men". That same day, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller appointed Arthur Cornelius Jr. to be the sixth superintendent in the Division's history. He took office with a mandate to reorganize, modernize and strengthen the state police, a task to which he dedicated the rest of his life.

Born Aug. 2, 1908 in Bayville, NJ., Arthur Cornelius Jr. was a self-made man who labored throughout the first the part of his life to obtain a good education, and devoted virtually the rest of it to public service. As a youth he did whatever labor he could find to earn an extra dollar: delivering milk, shining shoes and shoveling sand; while in college and law school he supported himself by toiling in a chemical lab and a welfare office.

In 1931, he graduated from John Marshall College, and earned his law degree three years later from Rutgers University School of Law. For 25 years thereafter he served as a special agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and supervised field offices across the country. Retiring from the FBI, he worked for a time as vice president of the National Commercial Bank and Trust Company before Gov. Rockefeller named him to head the New York State Police.

The first Superintendent since 1917 to be appointed from outside the Division of State Police, he orchestrated the most extensive reorganization in its history. Centralizing administrative control, increasing efficiency and promoting uniformity of operations throughout the troops were central goals of his plan. Under his direction, the agency's executive staff was reorganized and expanded to help oversee and coordinate field operations. It also received a new, purpose-built, home with the opening of the present Division Headquarters facility on the State Office Campus in Albany in 1964.

In-service and basic school training were upgraded. Plans for the construction of a State Police Academy were approved. Authorized strength during his tenure more than doubled from 1,566 to 3,217, and civilian positions more than quadrupled. This growth included the establishment of two new troops: Troop E, created in 1967 from portions of Troops A, C and D, with headquarters in Canandaigua, and Troop F, headquartered in Middletown, established in 1968 from elements of Troops C, G and K. The work week for troopers was shortened to 40 hours, and salaries were brought up to contemporary levels.

In direct response to Supt. Cornelius's mandate from the Governor, the state police developed a number of specialized units during the 1960s expressly for dealing with the changing nature of crime. One of the first to be formed was the Special Investigatory Unit of the BCI, attached to Division Headquarters, a number of auto theft units and an Accident Investigation Unit to determine the causes of motor vehicle accidents and recommend changes in procedures or patrol activity to improve highway safety.

Expansion and enhancement of the New York State Police Teletype Network continued throughout the decade, and the state entered the computer age in 1965 with the establishment of an Electronic Data Processing Section. In 1967, the NYSP became the first New York State agency to maintain an on-line, real-time computer system when the new Computer Oriented Police System, forerunner of the New York Statewide Police Information System (NYSPIN), was placed in service.

Although he passed away at the age of 59 on Aug. 4, 1967, Supt. Cornelius unquestionably lived to see many of his goals for the state police realized. "In my opinion, he was one of the truly outstanding public servants in the State," Gov. Rockefeller said of him. "The service which he rendered in his leadership of the state police and the reorganization, the change in concept and the standards which he introduced and the increase in the force, in the training for the men, the awareness of the problems we face in society today and his preparation for those has been truly outstanding." Through his stewardship and vision, Supt. Cornelius left behind a modern, professional Division of State Police as his legacy.

Supt. Cornelius and his wife, Betty Jane, had two sons.