Francis Simpson McGarvey

Jan. 24, 1955 - Feb. 8, 1961
Francis Simpson McGarvey

On January 24, 1955, Governor W. Averill Harriman appointed Chief Inspector Francis S. McGarvey, head of the BCI, to replace Supt. Johnson.

Born Dec. 15, 1896 in New York City, Supt. McGarvey was a true American success story in the Horatio Alger mold. A self-made man whose formal education ended with one year of high school, Supt. McGarvey was one of the original NYSP Camp Newayo "camp men". He enlisted with the state police July 12, 1917, after serving a three-year hitch with the U.S. Army, which included active duty on the Mexican Border in 1916.

During his long career, he held, in succession, every rank it was possible for a New York State Trooper to achieve: trooper (1917), corporal (1918), sergeant (1919), first sergeant (1921), lieutenant (1923), BCI district inspector (1935), BCI division inspector (1936), captain-troop commander (1939) and chief inspector-BCI (1944).

Supt. McGarvey's experience and expertise was acquired in a lifetime devoted to professional law enforcement, and his knowledge of the New York State Police was comprehensive. Police officer training and continuing education were high among his priorities, as was a desire to ensure field personnel were equipped with the latest tools: high-performance troop cars, modern inter-state teletype connections, the replacement of blood-testing equipment with the Breathalyzers for DWI enforcement, and the introduction of SCUBA equipment for state police divers.

By the late 1950s, however, the state police still operated under a quasi-military system that required troopers to live in barracks and work 120-hour weeks. Supt. McGarvey was slow to appreciate that such demands, while contemporary for troopers of the 1920s and 30s, were increasingly out-of-date in the post-war era. He refused for two years to act on new rules governing time and attendance for troopers, and it required a direct appeal from the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) to the governor in 1958 before the Division of State Police adopted a revamped 12-hour day and five-day work week.

Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller retained Supt. McGarvey after he took office in January 1959. He followed his predecessors into retirement on February 8, 1961 and died July 3, 1969, having dedicated 44 of his 73 years to the service of the New York State Police and the people of New York State.