Detective Haverford publishes book on fascinating life of Township’s first police chief – Delco Times
HAVERFORD— Detective Albert “Matt” Hufnal recognizes a good story when he sees one. In 2016, as the Township of Haverford Police Department celebrated a ‘century of service’, the Township of Haverford Law Enforcement Officer scoured the archives, researching the history of the department for the 100th anniversary celebration. .
Unexpectedly, he unearthed shocking information that brought him to a halt. Haverford Township’s first-ever chief of police, Ed Hallissey saw his incredible career come to an abrupt and miserable end in April 1921, when he was arrested, drunk and in uniform, after driving on a Philadelphia sidewalk. then threatened the life of a Philadelphia policeman. officer.
“This guy’s story could be a book,” Hufnal remembers thinking, as he continued to pore over the files and newspaper clippings of the legendary law enforcement official. The 25-year-old police veteran and first-time author decided, at that point, that he would be the one to write it, preserving this intriguing piece of Haverford history.
Hufnal published “Hallissey! The Amazing Life and Times of Haverford Township’s First Police Chief ” earlier this year. The 124-page paperback, which includes historical photos and reprinted newspaper clippings, was published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. The book is dedicated to “Hufnal’s” past, present and future comrades who serve and protect the Township of Haverford and its residents, who make it a place worth protecting. “
The author said the book was equal parts local history, police procedure, and human drama.
“Hallissey was 30 on Monday a week ago, so he has a future ahead of him with plenty of room for more glory,” reported a 1913 article about Edward Hallissey, a legendary Pennsylvania lawyer whose exploits with the state police had made him a last name statewide. Sadly, Hufnal said, that bright future would not be fully realized. Appointed first chief of the Township of Haverford in 1916, Hallissey continued his meteoric rise, building on an incredible series of arrests and investigations which made the headlines until his incredible career came to an abrupt end in 1921.
When Hufnal began reading copies of the minutes of the Haverford Township Commissioners’ monthly meetings in 1916 to see what could be found about the origin and early years of the force to be shared with his department, he s is said to find the same current affairs that have barely changed in a century.
“The minutes were pretty dry, with occasional interesting information involving reports from Chief Hallissey to commissioners on hires and layoffs, and notable incidents and arrests,” Hufnal explained. “Having attended dozens of Commissioners’ meetings in my time, I was struck by how much things had not really changed with regard to local government and police operations. Then, having reached the minutes of April 1921, I came across an entry that made me sit down and take note. An emergency meeting was called to deal with Chief Hallissey’s alleged misconduct. “
Drier and more routine, the minutes of that meeting were steeped in drama and tension, Hufnal said. After hearing the passionate calls from citizens to spare the leader, the commissioners unanimously voted for his removal. Whatever her “fault” was, she was so well known that she was not even identified in the minutes. When Hufnal spoke with his colleagues, he tried to get more information.
“I started asking people around me if anyone knew what happened to our first chef,” Hufnal recalls. “No one knew he was fired in a scandal, let alone the cause of the dismissal. Intrigued, I subscribed to an online newspaper archive and began to find story after story after amazing story involving Edward Hallissey. Stories about his dismissal were pretty sensational, but each article seemed to refer to previous stories, which led to other newspaper articles earlier in his career. It was like onion layers. It’s me. appeared that our first boss was not a political hack, but a legitimate law enforcement legend. ”
Hallisey was a highly decorated original member of the Pennsylvania State Police, joining that department in his first year. He then embarked on a famous career as a detective in Reading, then a booming metropolis, plagued by corruption and vice. His involvement in a politically motivated corruption scandal ended his career in Reading, at the opportune time for members of the Haverford Commissioners’ Police Committee who were seeking a leader to form their new department.
“The guys at work were in disbelief that the subject of these amazing stories was our first boss,” Hufnal said, recalling the first time he shared his discovery with his colleagues at HTPD. “It seemed sad to me that his incredible career was lost to history, and I realized there was something I could do about it.”
Hufnal’s colleagues have been of great support and help in researching, writing and promoting his new book.
“When I finished a few drafts and passed them on to the guys in the department, who I know love the story, they were very encouraging, joking that Hallissey’s story could be a Hollywood feature. They started speculating who might play him in a movie or a miniseries – my choice fell on Tom Hardy.
Before embarking on the idea for his book, Hufnal also met with current boss John Viola to assess his thoughts, as he was concerned that Hallissey’s character flaws were not exactly good public relations for the department.
“Chef Viola didn’t hesitate in the slightest,” Hufnal recalls. “He said go – it’s history and it happened, and it’s an interesting story.”
Through genealogical research, Hufnal discovered that Hallissey still has descendants here in Delaware County.
“I contacted a grandson and met him at the Smashburger in Brookhaven,” Hufnal said. “He was eager to read the draft, and I was nervous to hear his comments. He’s been great – very supportive and encouraging for me to post. He “got” exactly what I wanted to convey, that his grandfather was a larger than life character who made an impact wherever he went. He understood that Hallissey’s fall had come full circle in history and made it a compelling story of human interest.
Since the book was published, Hufnal has heard from Hallissey’s descendants from across the country.
“They have all been incredibly supportive,” Hufnal said. “A great-grandson called me to thank me and told me that he had inherited Hallissey’s revolver. The family has always wondered about a date engraved on the side plate of the gun – September 28, 1909. After reading the book, they realized that the date corresponds to Private Hallissey’s adventures in the mountains near Carlisle. , when it infiltrated for weeks. , disguised as a tramp to infiltrate a criminal gang, culminating in a shootout in which Hallissey “shot” the feared gang leader and made headlines statewide. I found this very gratifying, as I considered this story to be the epitome of great police work, and it was nice to realize that Hallissey or his superiors felt strong enough to engrave this date on his gun. The fact that the family was now able to connect all the dots was the icing on the cake. “
Hufnal currently lives in Havertown with his wife Jennifer. The couple have two children, son Hayden, 23, and daughter Shelby, 20. A native of Delaware County, originally from the Ogden Park section of Boothwyn, Hufnal graduated from Chichester High School and Folcroft Vo-Tech in 1985, with career aspirations to work in law enforcement. After high school, Hufnal enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in the security detachment of HMX-1, the “Marine One”. Before returning to Delaware County and joining Haverford Police in 1993, Hufnal worked for two years for the Metro Transit Police Department in Washington, DC.
Hufnal’s experience as a detective helped him with the methodical historical investigation and other organizational tactics needed to write the book.
“I was determined to approach it with the same attention to truth and detail that I would in preparing a probable cause affidavit,” Hufnal explained. “I wanted it all to be true and able to withstand critical examination. This is where period newspaper articles were invaluable, as many stories seem too fantastic to be believed without being able to get straight to the source.
As Hufnal delved deeper into the details of Hallissey’s life, he found himself more and more addicted to finding out more, not only because few people seemed aware of the historical details of the former today. police chief of the department, but because the story is just as intriguing nowadays as it was then.
“The turn of the 20th century was a fascinating time of change and upheaval here in Delaware County, in America and around the world,” commented the new author. “Hallissey lived great during interesting times. The story of the downfall of a man who was at the top of his game and then suffered terrible adversity on his own initiative transcends history and is also relevant today. she was when her arrest made the national news. ”
“Hallissey! : The Amazing Life and Times of Haverford Township’s First Police Chief ” by A. Matthew Hufnal is available on Amazon.com for $ 16 and other online book sites. Readers who want a signed copy can stop by the Haverford Township Police Station and ask Detective Hufnal to sign their book. For more information, send an email to [email protected]