EARLY ROOF RACK STORY AS TOLD BY RETIRED TFC CHARLIE OUELLETTE LT.
Cleveland B. Fuessenich was appointed Commissioner of State Police in January 1971.
He immediately instituted many new ideas and policies for the Department. For many decades CSP cruisers were unmarked except for a "State Police" plate or shield displayed on the front and rear bumpers. Except for one marked cruiser assigned to each troop, no assigned vehicles had roof lights. Along with the SP shields troopers were assigned a red rotating light to be used on their dash board. Most all troopers added at their expense flashing grill lights (I had four alternating lights in the grill).
Col. Fuessenich had the quartermaster purchase enough roof racks so that each of the ten troops had one for every patrol. Altogether maybe 60 to 70.
When they arrived they were delivered to the troops with orders that they were to be used by every trooper on patrol. That meant that as each shift changed, the roof racks had to be removed and turned over to the next shift. This process was carried on three times a day until additional lights were purchased and each trooper was assigned his own roof rack. To be caught without a roof rack on patrol was a mortal sin.
At Troop B (Canaan) as was the case in all other troops, it was necessary for the oncoming shift to meet the outgoing shift along the highway to make the switch. Many times they were left at a state highway barn many miles from the troop. Other times outgoing patrols would give their roof rack to an adjoining patrol who would take it into the troop along with his own. Like at most troops, Troop B had/ has two patrols that were 30 miles from the barracks.
The Commissioner lived in Litchfield and commuted each day to HQ in Hartford. He generally left home early and would observe the midnight shifts of Troops L & H between 0600 and 0800 hrs. On more than one occasion he observed cruisers without roof racks. Many teletype and phone messages were sent to the Troop CO's by the Commissioner concerning his orders "that the roof racks to must be used AT ALL times" He would hold the Sgt.'s and Lt.'s responsible for enforcing this order.
Early one morning Trooper Ouellette, on Midnight Patrol # 3, met the Midnight Patrol # 4 trooper to take the #4's roof rack back toward the troop. They met near the the Troop L & B line about 30 miles from Canaan. Both Trooper Ouellette's rear seat and trunk were (as usual) filled with gear and personal items (pillows, teddy bears, etc). Tpr. Ouellette found a new and easy way to transport two light racks at the same time. PUT BOTH ON THE ROOF.
The two troopers left in opposite directions. The quickest way back to the troop for Ouellette was to sneak through a section of Troop L and then head north to Canaan. It was very early and still rather dark. At about the same time the Commissioner began his earlier than usual drive to HQ. Along a stretch of Rte 118 in Litchfield they passed one another.
The Commissioner had his eyes glued on the roof light (s) as they passed. There was no mistake about it, the passing patrol car had TWO roof racks. The Commissioner saw red. Trooper Ouellette didn't pass another cruiser all the way to the barracks. He quickly pulled in, removed both roof racks, and joined the day shift in the troop for breakfast. The Commissioner personally phoned Troop L's CO at 0900 hrs telling him that one of his troopers was "mocking" him. He wanted answers and wanted them quickly. No one at Troop L fessed up and none of the "top" investigators thought to look North to Canaan for the evidence. Tpr. Ouellette was obviously tightlipped about the matter as it became a statewide topic of conversation.
by TFC Dean Hammond (Ret)
Auth: TFC Charlie Ouellette