Governor Nelson Rockefeller appointed William E. Kirwan Jr. to be the seventh superintendent of the New York State Police. Born Nov. 7, 1912 in New York City, Supt. Kirwan graduated with a B.S. from Fordham University in 1933. He joined the NYSP as a trooper on June 15, 1936 and served in Troop K until he was assigned to the State Police Scientific Laboratory in 1937, beginning a 25-year association with that institution. During that time he wrote and co-authored many articles on the subject of scientific police service, several of which were subsequently reprinted for foreign-language publications around the world.
After appointments as lab assistant director and director (1941), he served as acting chief inspector until Supt. Cornelius appointed him to be the division's original first deputy superintendent in 1961.
During his tenure, the Division of State Police continued its trend to progressive change and development. The State Police Training Academy, located adjacent to Division Headquarters in Albany, was dedicated in 1970. The first women entered state police service in 1973. That same year also witnessed the establishment of the first NYSP minority recruiting detail, a measure designed to ensure the agency reflected the growing diversity of the public it served.
The program of replacing old buildings with new, purpose-built, facilities continued, including construction of new headquarters for Troops F, D, A and K. Finally, State Police Aviation was reborn Sept. 1, 1967, when the Thruway Authority purchased a fixed-wing Cessna Sky Hawk aircraft for use by the state police in traffic enforcement. The following year, the agency acquired its first helicopter, a Bell 47 G4A bubble type, followed by three Bell 206A Jet Ranger helicopters in 1969.
Supt. Kirwan and his wife, Josephine, made their home in Cohoes (Albany County), NY. During his 39-year NYSP career, he was known in the field of law enforcement, and he kept the state police in the forefront of police excellence. He retired to enter private life on June 25, 1975, and passed away on Nov. 24, 1986.