William Powers

On June 13, 2010 The Massachusetts State Police posthumously named William F. Powers Historian Emeritus of the Department. A ceremony was held at the General Headquarters in Framingham prior to the Department's annual Memorial Service. Colonel Marian McGovern, Mr. Paul Matthews of the Former Massachusetts State Troopers Association and Mr. Richard Barry of the State Police Museum and Learning Center were joined by Commissioner Powers' wife Lois, who travelled from Virginia for the ceremony.

William Powers rose through the ranks of the Department, culminating his State Police career with his 1969 appointment by Governor Francis W. Sargent as Commissioner of Public Safety. The appointment marked the first time since the founding of the State Police that a uniformed officer had ever been elevated directly to the Department's top office. Commissioner Powers served in that capacity until 1971, when he was appointed as the Justice Department's New England Regional Administrator for the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. In 1977 he became the founding director of the federal National Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program, where he served until his retirement in 1994.

During his State Police career, Commissioner Powers was first stationed at the State Police Barracks in Holden, and later was assigned to field barracks throughout southeastern Massachusetts. He later served in the Traffic Bureau, the Public Affairs Unit, and the State Police Academy, where he was an adjunct professor. He was the first police officer to matriculate in Boston University's College of Communication.

Commissioner Powers authored three volumes on the Massachusetts State Police. His first work, 1965's One Hundred Year Vigil, written when he was a lieutenant, marked the centennial of the founding of the Massachusetts State Constabulary, the nation's first statewide law enforcement agency. In the foreword to that volume, then-Governor John A. Volpe wrote:

"The Massachusetts State Police has a long and honored tradition. Its record of achievement is a source of pride to every citizen of the Commonwealth. Founded at the close of the Civil War, America's first statewide police agency has matured through one hundred years of public trust ... Lieutenant Powers had made a significant contribution to his organization by writing this informative account of its birth, growth and fulfillment."
In 1979, Commissioner Powers wrote French and Electric Blue, which focused on the 1921 beginnings of the State Police Patrol. Commissioner Powers wrote in his author's foreword:
"A history of the State Police ... has no ending. Rather, there is an inexorable evolution. In that sense, this work itself represents an intersection of biography and history. It is, in one view, a termination point, written in the final year of the state force's first six decades. From another perspective, it is a point of departure, one from which new achievements will be authored by men and women not yet selected for a career in the Commonwealth's statewide enforcement agency."

The trilogy concluded in 1998 with Enforcement Odyssey, which chronicled the department up to the last years of the last millennium. The then-head of the State Police Association of Massachusetts noted on the book jacket, "As a career officer, [Commissioner Powers'] prose provides unique insights into the personal sacrifices, organizational achievements and cultural dynamics that have created and nourished a fascinating enforcement journey."

The Department would like to thank the Former Massachusetts State Troopers Association for their assistance in making this honor possible.


Colonel Marian McGovern, Commissioner Powers' wife Lois, Mr. Paul Matthews of the Former Massachusetts State Troopers Association, Mr. Richard Barry of the State Police Museum and Learning Center and other members of the Former Massachusetts State Troopers Association.