John Adams Warner

Dec. 1, 1923 - Dec. 21, 1943
John Adams Warner

When Superintendent Chandler resigned in 1923 to return to medical practice, Gov. Smith asked him to recommend his own successor. Chandler named Capt. John A. Warner, the commander of Troop K. Smith sent Warner's name to the Senate without ever having met him, and the appointment was approved.

John A. Warner was born Sept. 17, 1886 in Rochester, NY, and graduated from Harvard University in 1906. He achieved renown as a concert pianist, learning to play the piano at the age of four, and studied music professionally in Paris, Vienna and Italy. He later appeared at Carnegie Hall, and played at the Eastman Theater with the Civic Orchestra. In later years he used this musical talent to good advantage, playing a Schumann concerto before a nationwide radio audience in 1934 as a return compliment to the station for airing a series of programs based on the exploits of the NYSP.

Among his many notable achievements was his marriage to Miss Emily Smith, daughter of Gov. Alfred E. Smith. The Warners were the parents of two daughters.

Warner served three years in the New York National Guard, 1st Cavalry, and saw active duty during the U.S. Army's 1916 incursion into Mexico in pursuit of the bandit Pancho Villa. On June 9, 1917, he enlisted in the New York State Police, becoming the fourth man sworn into its ranks. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant two days later, and to captain on June 15, 1918.

By the time he assumed the mantle of Supt. Chandler in 1923, Supt. Warner was well versed in the ways of the NYSP, and clearly was determined to leave his mark upon it, a fact attested to by the improvements under his tenure and the length of his stewardship -- 20 years -- the longest by far of any superintendent.

A thorough disciple of Col. Chandler's philosophy, Supt. Warner maintained and institutionalized the operational principles and procedures of his predecessor. Under his leadership, the state police continued to expand. In the governmental reorganization of 1927, the Department of State Police became a unit of the Executive Department and was thereafter known as the Division of State Police.

Troopers gradually assumed more responsibility for vehicle and traffic safety, taking over all enforcement from the Motor Vehicle Bureau in 1926. Because of this new duty, 17 men were added to each troop, bringing the authorized strength to 584, more than double the original complement. In 1928, the state police began policing the parks and parkways on Long Island for the first time, the beginning of what came to be informally known as Troop L.

Supt. Warner continued to modernize the division. By 1928, each troop had its own identification section, which not only gave the state police fingerprint and photography capabilities, but also made them available to local police departments. The number of division automobiles and motorcycles also increased; by 1929, 112 troopers on motorcycles were assigned strictly to traffic enforcement duty.

The second decade of Supt. Warner's administration saw similar improvements, including the establishment of the:

  • Statewide teletypewriter system and NYSP Aeronautics Division (1931);
  • Pistol Permit Bureau and NYSP radio communications (1932);
  • NYSP Diving Unit (1934);
  • BCI and and first NYSP bloodhound unit (1935);
  • State Police Laboratory System (1936);
  • NYSP Traffic Bureau (1937), and
  • Numerous other initiatives which today are taken for granted.

Supt. Warner's long, successful NYSP career came to a close on Aug. 24, 1943, when he was called to active duty with the U.S. Army during World War II. He passed away on Aug. 19, 1963.