George Fletcher Chandler

May 1, 1917 - Dec. 1, 1923
George Fletcher Chandler

George Fletcher Chandler, was born Dec. 13, 1872 in Clyde, NY. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1892 and went on to medical school at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, graduating in 1895. He enlisted as a 1st lieutenant in the New York National Guard, 10th NY Infantry Regiment, and served as an assistant surgeon. By the time of the 1916 Mexican Incursion he had risen to major, serving as adjutant of the 1st NY Provisional Brigade.

He had only recently returned from service along the Mexican border and was just beginning to establish his own medical practice when Gov. Charles Whitman appointed him the first Superintendent of the New York State Police on May 1, 1917.

Without previous police training or experience, Supt. Chandler assumed responsibility for everything from devising candidate selection methods and screening candidates - he conducted the physical examinations personally - to finding facilities, designing uniforms, laying down procedures and buying horses. He even chose the name by which members of the department would be forever known: New York State Troopers.

Supt. Chandler's desire was to develop a professional, non-political police force. To accomplish this, he fought to maintain complete control over the department's hiring and firing practices. Many politicians tried to bully him into hiring their constituents, but Chandler steadfastly refused to accept any candidate who failed to meet his stringent requirements. Each man had to be "physically and mentally capable."

With no authorization to build barracks to house his men, Chandler devised a typically innovative plan: He would convince members of certain communities to build the barracks and rent them to the state. The plan worked so well that it later led to the construction of substations in many towns and villages. He also insisted on proper training for his men and established the first New York State School for Police. It was attended by local law enforcement officers as well as state troopers, and was used as a model for several other states.

On Nov. 1, 1918, Supt. Chandler took leave from his duties with the state police to return to active military service. He served with the U.S. Army Medical Corps at Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia from Nov. 1, 1918 to April 18, 1919. When he returned to Albany he had to convince newly elected Gov. Alfred E. Smith that the New York State Police should be preserved. After a two-hour debate, the governor, a long-time NYSP opponent, had a change of heart, saying, "I have changed my mind; now that we have a state police, let's make it the best there is."

Supt. Chandler remained with the New York State Police until Dec. 1, 1923, when he retired to resume his surgical practice. Under his skillful guidance, the New York State Police had been firmly established as a premier law enforcement agency. His innovations and strong moral character had seen it through its toughest years and made it strong enough to stand on its own. After a fruitful and rewarding life in service to his state, country and mankind, George Fletcher Chandler passed away on Nov. 6, 1964. He and his wife Martha were the parents of two sons.