Our Police Protectors
History of New York Police
Chapter 10, Part 2

By Holice and Debbie


Inspector James Leonard--As a gallant, faithful and zealous officer, Inspector Leonard's record stand second to none in the department. It has been commented on as a remarkable fact that the officers, without a single exception, who personally led their command against the rioters, not only displayed great bravery, but a practical knowledge of strategy and tactics that won the day against overwhelming odds. After Inspector Carpenter had left Police Headwaters with his command, shortly after Superintendent Kennedy's arrival, maimed and insensible, Inspector Leonard, under orders from Commissioner Acton, was constantly employed massing and organizing such of the forces at Headquarters as was not in actual conflict with the mob. Throughout Monday Inspector Leonard had several brushes with the enemy. On Tuesday he was mainly engaged in the neighborhood of Printing House square in repeated hand-to-hand encounters with the rioters. Wherever the fight was the hottest, there was Inspector Leonard and his intrepid force of blue-coats. Truly Superintendent Matsell's famous encomium "the finest Police force in the world," is not an overstrained estimate of the officers and men who took part in those fierce and deadly street encounters. In one of the several emutes that took place in the vicinity of the City Hall, the Inspector, as usual, took a leading part. Says one who had personal knowledge of the facts: "A hand-to-hand fight ensued, heads were broken, men prostrated and laid in heaps, and, in less time than it is recorded, those who a few minutes before were eager for and intent upon the lives of the three daring officer (Inspector Leonard and two of his men) were scattered like sheep before the gallant charge of the Police, or lay as slaughtered. Inspector Leonard was boldly in the fray, his stalwart form being conspicuous, his rapid, earnestly-meant and muscular blows falling with telling effect."

And again: "He had immense interest to guard; himself a host, his officers and men true as steel, they saved the district committed to their care from the consummation of well-concocted plans of violence and pillage. Of active intelligence and proved courage, Inspector Leonard's name shines brightly on the record of honor."

An Act passed April 25, 1864, entitled an Act to amend an Act passed April 15, 1857, and an Act passed April 10, 1860, provided that the unexplained absence without leave, of any member of the Metropolitan Police who for five days should absent himself without leave, should be deemed and held to be a resignation by such member and be accepted as such. The Act also established the following officers: A Treasurer's Bookkeeper, a Secretary to the President, a Chief Clerk, a First Deputy Clerk, And Deputy Clerks not exceeding ten, Surgeons not exceeding ten, and a Drill Captain. The Superintendent and each Captain, the law declared, should possess powers of general Police supervision and inspection over all licensed or unlicensed pawnbrokers, venders, junk-shops, junk-boatmen, cartmen, dealers in second-hand merchandise, intelligence offices, keepers and auctioneers with the district. In like manner the following places were brought under the ban of the Police: Gaming houses, playing for wagers of money at any game of chance, selling lottery tickets or policies, etc. The Superintendent could authorize any member of the force to enter the same and arrest all persons found offending against the law, seize all implements and carry the person so arrested before a Magistrate; the articles so seized to be deposited with the Property Clerk. The selling of liquor on the Sabbath, or on election day, was also prohibited, under a penalty of fifty dollars for each offense. It was made a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment not less than one year nor exceeding two years, or a fine not less than two hundred and fifty dollars, to use personal violence upon any elector on election day. The Board of Police were empowered to appoint all Poll Clerks. The Sanitary Company, as a part of the their duties, were to visit all ferry boats, manufactories, slaughter houses, tenement houses, hotels and boardinghouses, deemed unsafe, and report thereon; complaints to be made under oath, before any Magistrate who issued a warrant for the apprehension of the offending party. If the Magistrate was satisfied that the charges preferred were well founded, he could, in writing, command a ferry boat to cease running and such other nuisances complained of to cease or be closed.

The Metropolitan Police District comprised the counties of New York, Kings, Westchester, and Richmond, and the towns of Newtown, Flushing, and Jamaica, in the county of Queens, as provided by Chapter 403 of the Laws of 1864.

The county of New York comprised the whole of the Island of Manhattan, and is bounded on the west by the Hudson River, north by Spuyten Duyvel Creek and Harlem River, and on the east and south by the East River. Westchester County lies adjacent and to the north of New York County, and is bounded on the west by the Hudson River, eats by the East River, Long Island Sound, and the State of Connecticut, and on the north by Putnam County. Kings County comprises the southwest portion of Long Island, being bounded on the north-east by Queen's County, and on the rest by the waters of the ocean, East River and New York Bay. Richmond County embraces the whole of Staten Island. The Towns of Flushing, Newtown, and Jamaica, are in Queens County, Long Island, adjoining King's County, on the north-east.

That portion of the Metropolitan Police District consisting of the cities of New York, and Brooklyn, were divided into two Inspection Districts, surgeons Districts, and Precincts; the Precincts were divided into Patrolmen's beats or posts.

The Police force was divided into four divisions, and an Inspector was assigned to the command of a division, and in case of riot or nay other cause, when the force was called out in a body, he had command over the division to which he was assigned.

The First Division was under the command of Inspector Folk, and comprised the whole force of Brooklyn, including the Sanitary Squad and Atlantic Dock Police.

The Second Division was under the command of Inspector Leonard, and comprised the First, Second, Third, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, Fifteenth, Twenty-sixth, Twenty-seventh, and Twenty-eighth Precincts of New York City, and Second Police Court Squad.

The Third Division was under the command of Inspector Carpenter, and comprised the Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Tenth, eleventh, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Seventeenth, and Twenty-fifth Precincts of New York City, the First and Third Police Court Squads, and the Sanitary Company.

The Fourth Division was under the command of Inspector Dilks, and comprised the Twelfth, Sixteenth, Eighteenth, Nineteenth, Twentieth, Twenty-first, Twenty-second, Twenty-third, Twenty-ninth, Thirtieth, Thirty-first, Thirty-second, Thirty-second (Sub.), and Thirty-third Precincts of New York City, and the Fourth Police Court Squad.

The Police force was divided into companies, one company being allotted to each precinct; together with the addition of the Metropolitan Police Sanitary Company, and such squads as were ordered by the Board of Police.

The full dress of the members of the Metropolitan Police force, excepting the Surgeons, was of navy blue cloth indigo-dyed, and all wool.

The dress for the Superintendent was a double-breasted frock coat, the waist extending to the top of the hip, and the skirt to with one inch of the bend of the knee; two rows of Police buttons on the breast, eight on each row, placed in pairs, the distance between each row being five and one-half inches at the top and three and one-half inches at the bottom; stand-up collar, to rise no higher then to permit the chin to turn freely over it, to hook in front at the bottom; cuffs three and one-half inches deep, and buttoning with three small buttons at the end seam, two buttons on the hips, one button in the bottom of each skirt-pocket welt, and two buttons intermediate, so that there would be six buttons on the back; skirt, collars, and cuffs of dark blue velvet; lining of the coat black. The trousers plain. Black neck cloth. The vest single-breasted, with eight buttons placed at equal distances. The cap of navy blue cloth, and of the form of the pattern in the office of Superintendent, having a band of dark blue velvet, with a gold-embroidered wreath in front, encircling a silver star.

The Patrolmen detailed as Roundsmen, in addition, had the word "Roundsman" in white metal letters, in lieu of the wreath.

The dress for Harbor Patrolmen was a sailor's jacket, rolling collar, to come down halfway between the hip-joint and the knee, five buttons on each side of the breast, two buttons on the under seam of the cuff, pockets inside; vest, single-breasted, nine buttons; trousers, plain; shirt of blue flannel; cap, same as other Patrolmen, with wreath and number the same as in the office of the Superintendent; pea jacket, overcoat three inches above the knee, five buttons on each side, side pockets with flaps.

The dress for Doorman was a double-breasted round jacket extending two inches below the hip, with five Police buttons on each breast and one on the inside seam of each cuff; pantaloons of cadet mixed cloth, plain; cap, the same as Patrolmen, without wreath, but with the word "Doorman" in white metal letters placed in front.

The dress for Inspectors the same as Superintendent, except that there were seven buttons on each row on the breast of the coat, placed at equal distances, and the gold wreath on the cap enclosed the work "Inspector," in silver.

The dress for Captains and Sergeants was the same as for the Superintendent, except that there were eight buttons in each row on the breast of the coat, placed at equal distances; the collars rolling, the collar and cuffs of the same color and material as the coat; the band of the same color and material as the coat; the band of the same color and material as the body of the cap, welted, at the edges, and the wreath enclosing the word "Captain" or "Sergeant," with the number of the precinct to which the officer was attached, in gold. The Captain of the Harbor Police had a gold anchor, and the Sergeants silver anchors, enclosed in the wreath in lieu of the number of the precinct.

The dress for Patrolmen was a single-breasted frock coat, with rolling collar, the waist extending to the top of the hip, and the skirt to within one inch of the bend of the knee; nine buttons on the breast, two buttons on the hips, two buttons on the bottom of each pocket, and three small buttons on the under seam of the cuffs. Trousers had a white welt in the outer seam. Black neck-cloth. Vest, single-breasted, with nine buttons placed at equal distances. The cap of navy blue cloth, corresponding with the sample in the office of the Superintendent, with wreath surrounding the appropriate number in white metal.

The summer uniform consisted of blue flannel sack coat and blue flannel trousers. The coat of Patrolmen was a single-breasted sack with short turnover collar, buttoning close up to the chin, and reaching to half-way between the articulation of the hip joint and the knee, with four buttons on the front, no pockets to show on the outside, and the trousers made same as those worn in winter.

Flannel sack coat and flannel trousers, made like the above, and Sennet hat, was the uniform of the Harbor Police.

Coats for Captains were double-breasted, and buttoned close up to the chin, with short rolling collar, with two rows of buttons of five each on the front, the coat reaching to a point half way between the articulation of the hip joint and the knee; trousers without welts in the seams.

For Sergeants same as Captains, except that there were two rows of buttons of four each.

The officers were permitted to wear (in the station house) while in the discharge of desk duty, an undress coat, the same as the summer uniform.

The Superintendent of Police was the chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Police force, subject to the orders, rules and regulations of the Board of Metropolitan Police.

An Inspector was designated by the Board of Police to perform office duty at the general office in the city of New York, and an Inspector was designated in like manner to perform office duty in the city of Brooklyn. They were called Office Inspectors.

District Inspectors reported in person, daily, at the office of the Superintendent, and on the first Wednesday of every month they submitted reports, in writing, to the

Superintendent, setting forth the condition of each station house in their respective districts, with such suggestions in regard to them as might conduce to the comfort of the officers and men, and insure a thorough performance of duty.

The commissioners of the Metropolitan Police and the Comptrollers of the cities of New York and Brooklyn convened as a Board of Estimate and Apportionment, annually, on or before July 1, and made up a financial estimate of the sums required for the ensuing year.

The estimate was then submitted to a committee of revision, composed of the Presidents respectively of the Boar of Supervisors of the counties of New York, Kings, Westchester, and Richmond, and of the Board of Aldermen of Brooklyn and the respective towns of Newtown, Flushing and Jamaica in the county of Queens. If objection to the estimate was made, it became the duty of the Board of Estimates and Apportionment to consider the revise the same, such action being final.

This Act established the House of Detention of Witnesses:

Following are the annual salaries paid to the persons named:

President of the Board




Other Commissioners
















No member of the force was permitted to accept for his own benefit, or share in, any present, gift, reward, etc. The Board, however, could permit any member to accept such gift or present for any extraordinary service rendered.

The sum of thirty-five thousand dollars was provided by the legislature for purchasing and fitting up a station house for the Twenty-seventh Precinct; but this amount was found to be inadequate, an addition of fifteen thousand dollars being required to secure suitable premises. The sum of twenty-five thousand dollars remained in the hands of the Comptroller, applicable to rebuilding the station house of the Eighteenth Precinct, which was fired and destroyed by the mob in the draft riots. It was found that there was a pressing need for a station house in the Twenty-ninth Precinct, the old premises being inconvenient and insufficient. The station house of the Twenty-third Precinct had also been fired and destroyed by the mob, and provisions were made for the accommodation of the precinct by fitting up suitable premises and leasing them for five years.

The Thirty-second Precinct consisted of the upper portion of the city, and as the needs were great and pressing for a station house, two lots were bought on the corner of Tenth Avenue and One Hundred and Fifty-second Street, in Carmansville, each 25 X 100 Feet, and a station house erected thereon, 25 X 60 feet, three stories high, and a stable for horses 20 X 50 feet, at a total cost of Twelve thousand five hundred dollars. There being no prison or lodging rooms for vagrants and disorderly persons, all persons arrested and requiring to be retained, were from necessity taken to the adjoining precinct.

Patrolmen in the regular routine of duty, passed over every portion of the graded streets of the city each hour of the day and might, and in the thickly settled streets much more frequently. It was their duty to become acquainted with every tenement on their respective beats, and to familiarize themselves with the habits, business, and characters of the permanent inhabitants.

Then, as now, robbery, burglary, and larceny were pursued by a large class of remarkably acute persons. The impossibility of wholly suppressing such offences against the law, did not then, no more than at present, prevent the Police from making honest and earnest efforts to make those operations neither safe nor profitable. The professional thief seems to have preserved the same traits through all ages. He is not restrained by the disrepute attached to his calling, nor does the law possess sufficient terrors to exert a restraining influence, so long as detection is difficult and conviction uncertain.

It was observed that during the war there was a marked tendency to crimes of violence towards persons, and other crimes of a still greater character, while petty offences had not increased in proportion. There were arrested by the Metropolitan Police, for crimes of violence of a serious character in 1863 and 1864, respectively:




Felonious assault



Assault on Policemen



Attempt at Rape



Insulting females in the street















Threatening life







A small portion of this mass of high crime received the punishment provided by the law. The fault, if any existed, was somewhat beyond the power of the Police. During the year ending thirtieth of November, five members of the Police force had met their deaths by violence from the hands of desperate ruffians, great numbers of whom infested the city.


The names of the Policemen killed were

George W. Duryea

John O'Brien

Joseph Nulet

Charles Curren

Austen Esterbrook




Thirteen had been seriously injured and wounded by collision with the same violent class. The names of the wounded were:

James Kiernan

William Delameter

Ellsworth F. Hoagland

James Leary

John H. Polly

Robert Thompson

John H. Arnoux

William P. Teller

Thomas Hawkins

James McGowan

James Gannon

Thomas Sweeney

Stephen Shea

. . .

A much larger number, not reported, received injuries of a less serious character.


This, too, occurred during a year which had not been marked by any serious riot or mob. Concert and energy on the part of all good citizens and honest officials, to resist and subdue these elements of violence and crime, were urgently demanded by the Boar of Police. It was claimed by President Acton that it would greatly conduce to the good order of society, and to the personal safety of the citizen, if a law were passed rending it a crime to carry concealed deadly weapons.



Our Police Protectors, History of the New York Police, Published for the benefit of the Police Pension Fund, by Augustine Costello, Published by Author, 1885.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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