Our Police Protectors
History of New York Police
Chapter 11, Part 6

By Holice and Debbie


The Police Department had now entered upon another era of re-organization and development. On April 5, 1870, there was passed an Act to re-organize the local government of the city of New York. The charter is commonly known as the "Tweed Charter." By it, the Police Board was made to consist of four Commissioners, who were appointed for ht respective terms of eight, seven, six, and five years. The Police Department consisted of a superintendent, three Inspectors, Captain, Sergeants, Patrolmen, Doormen and as many Surgeons, clerks and employees as the Board of Police, from time to time, might determine. Members were removable only upon written charges, (except the Superintendent). No person to be appointed who was not a citizen, who could not read and write understandingly the English language, and who did not reside in the State. In case of riot, etc., Special Patrolmen might be appointed to serve without pay. No member could resign without having received the consent of the Board, under penalty of forfeiting his salary. Unexplained absence for five days was deemed and held to be equivalent to a resignation. The Common council was directed to provide office and business accommodations, station houses, etc., for the use of the Police force. The Board of Police was authorized to issue subpoenas for witnesses upon any proceedings sanctioned by its rules and regulations. All persons holding office under the department were exempt from jury duty and arrest. The Common council was ordered to provide accommodations for the detention of witnesses; no witness to be detained longer than ten days. The Board of Police, on conviction for neglect of duty, violation of rules, disobedience of orders, incapacity, or absence without leave, might punish by reprimand, fine, withholding pay, or dismiss from the force. All such fines were paid to the Chamberlain for account of the Police Life Insurance Fund. The department was instructed to detail two Policemen to each polling place. The Board of Police annually, on or before the first of December, were called to make estimates necessary for the conduct of the board of Police for the ensuing year. The Mayor, Comptroller, and President of the Board of Police, on or before December 15, met, and considered and revised said estimated, their action being binding. The Board of Supervisors caused the amount of such estimates to be raised by tax.

Mayor Hall, under the foregoing chapter, appointed the following as Police Commissioners: Henry Smith, Joseph S. Bosworth, Matthew T. Brennan, Benjamin F. Manierre.

The Police Department, in the name of its President and Treasurer, by Act of the legislature (April 26, 1870) was authorized to bring an action at law against the authorities of Richmond County to compel the payment of its share of the Police expenses.

The Board was empowered to increase the Patrolmen, such increase not to exceed one hundred in addition to the number hitherto allowed by law. The Treasure was to give bonds in two sureties of twenty thousand dollars each. He was to receive fifteen hundred dollars in addition to the amount provided by law. The Board appointed a Fire Marshall and clerks. A summary of the remainder of the Act may be noted as follows: Special Patrolmen might be appointed in case of riots, etc., and military assistance might be demanded. Policemen were required to convey arrested offenders to the nearest Magistrate; the Board to prevent the undue detention of witnesses; all witnesses, in default of bail, to be committed to the House of Detention.

John Jourdan, who was appointed Superintendent on April 11, 1870, died October 17 of the same year. James J. Kelso was thereupon appointed Superintendent.

Upon the death of Superintendent Jourdan, the Board of Police adopted unanimously (among others) the following resolutions:

"Resolved, that by the death of John Jourdan, Superintendent of Police in the Police Department of the city of New York, the department and the public have sustained a great and irreparable loss. He entered upon Police service as a Patrolman in 1855, and, excepting a brief period, had been continuously a member of the successive Police organization until his death. He was appointed a Sergeant on the twenty-fourth of April, 1860, and a Captain on the thirty-first of January, 1863, and Superintendent on the eleventh of April, 1870.

"He was always active and vigilant in the performance of duty. He felt a warm interest in the efficiency and good character of the entire Police force, and laudably exerted himself to make the men and officers in his precinct a well-instructed and well-disciplined body. He felt an honest pride in a proper discharge of Police duties by his officers and men, was well as in the performance of his own. He was a model Police Captain. He knew every suspicious characters in his precinct, his associates and places of resort. His capacity as a detective officer was not surpassed, and probably not equaled, by that of any other member of the force. Never compromising with criminals, persistent and untiring in his efforts to secure their arrest and punishment, yet he was popular, and enjoyed unlimited general confidence. He always observed good faith, and his whole official life has been characterized by a uniform purpose to be right and fearless in the performance of duty. He was as sensitive as sensible, and ever frowned upon the suggestion that anything should be done or suffered to be done which, in his judgment, would prejudice the public weal or the proper discipline of the force.

"As superintendent, he undertook more than any man of his nervous temperament can endure. Under the pressure of his arduous and varied duties, and exhausting anxieties which e could not prevent or dispel, his health soon gave way, and the result is his premature death, and the loss to the department and the public of his marked abilities and large and valuable experience.

"Resolved, That in his death each members of the Board and of the Police force has lost an honest and generous friend, the department an invaluable officer, and the community at large an efficient and experienced Police protectors."

At the time the Act of April 5, 1870, "To re-organize the Local Government of the city of New York," went into effect, every person connected with the Metropolitan Police Department (with some few exceptions) was transferred by that Act to the Police Department created by it, and continued in the office which he held at the time of such transfer. On the eleventh of April the Board was organized by the election of Joseph S. Bosworth as President, Matthew T. Brennan as Treasurer, and the appointment of Seth C. Hawley as Chief Clerk. Mr. Brennan resigned his office on the seventh day of October, 1870,m and Henry Smith was thereupon elected Treasurer. Thomas J. Barr was appointed to fill the vacancy.

The Police force, in April, 1870, consisted of one superintendent, three Inspectors, thirty-five Captains, one hundred and thirty-six Sergeants, eighty-three Roundsmen, one thousand nine hundred and ninety-two patrolmen, and seventy-five Doorman. Total, 2,325.

Of the Patrolmen, one thousands seven hundred and thirty-nine were assigned to patrol duty, and two hundred and fifty-three to special duty. Of these, two hundred and fifty-three, twenty-nine were specially detailed on the application of corporations and individuals, who paid for their services, as provided bylaw, the statutory compensation.

On the eleventh of April, 1870, John A. Kennedy, who had been Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police from the twenty-third day of May, 1860, until he was transferred tot he Police Department by the Act of April 5, 1870, resigned his office. The vacancy created thereby was filled by appointing as Superintendent John Jourdan, then Captain of the Sixth Precinct. Superintendent Jourdan died on the tenth of October, 1870. On the seventeenth day of October, James J. Kelso, Captain of the Detective force, was appointed Superintendent of Police.

The new Superintendent, among numerous expressions of good wishes, was presented with the following set of resolutions:

WE, the Detective force of the Police Department of the city of New York, while heartily joining in the general appreciation of the well-merited appointment of our former official Chief, James J. Kelso, to the more elevated and responsible office of Superintendent of Police, while approving the judiciousness of the selection, cannot refrain from expressing our sense of individual loss in the severance of ties of long association in the most delicate and arduous branch of the public service. The duties of this service are most exacting, requiring the exercise of vigilance that knows no rest, patience to overcome obstacles, intuitive perception of character, ready and fearless action in embarrassing situations; these qualities, combined with great natural shrewdness, intensified by experience, being possessed by our late Chief in a remarkable strict discipline, always acting in a kindly and gentle manner, impressed by the force of his own example, his high sense of honor commanded respect, and greatly added to the efficiency of the department. Although by his transfer to a higher position our late association no longer exists, it is still a source of gratification to feel that we still remain under his intelligent supervision, and that we shall be of some extent guided by his counsel. Assured that his new duties will be performed in a manner which will inspire confidence to the whole community, we wish him the enjoyment of every prosperity that should attend the faithful discharge of duty.

C. B. McDougal, Chairman.

James J. Kelso joined the force in June, 1858m, and was detailed for duty as Patrolman at the then headquarters, at the corner of Broome and Crosby Streets.

The New York County Jail (better known as the Ludlow Street Jail) is situated at the corner of Ludlow Street and Essex Market Place, and was first occupied in June, 1862, taking the place of the noted Eldridge Street Jail. It is built of Philadelphia brick, ornamented with New Jersey freestone trimmings. The building is built in the form of an L, ninety feet on each street, forty fee deep, and about sixty-five feet high, leaving an angle of about fifty-five square feet, surrounded by a high wall, for a yard in which the prisoners are permitted to take their daily exercise. The jail contain eighty-seven cells. For light and ventilation it is probably not surpassed by any prison in the United States. the class of prisoners confined herein consists principally of all arrests and commitments upon civil process, with the few arrest made by the United States Marshal for this district.

Ludlow Street jail has become notorious by the escape of William M. Tweed from the custody of the Sheriff, while out driving in company with Warden of the Jail and one of the Keepers.

The Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents (Home of Refuge, Randall's Island), chartered in 1824, to care for and reform juvenile offenders, etc., was the first in the country organize for such a purpose. The first House of Refuge, under the provisions of the Act of Incorporation, was opened January 1, 1825, in the building previously occupied as a United States Arsenal, located on what is now known as Madison Square. At the opening, the inmates were four boys and six girls, committed by the Police Magistrates of the city; the provisions of the law being confined to the city and county of New York. Subsequent amendments extended to all parts of the State, until 1849, when the Western Home of Refuge was established at Rochester. In 1839 the institution was removed to the foot of Twenty-third Street, East River, and occupied the buildings formerly used as the fever hospital, it having outgrown the accommodations on Madison Square. In 1854, the constantly increasing number of inmates compelled the managers to move it to Randall's Island.

The buildings are of brick, and are erected in the Italian style. The two principal structures front the river, and form a facade nearly a thousand feet in length. The larger of the two buildings is for the accommodation of the boys' department, and the other for the girls'. Other buildings are located in the rear of these, and are inclosed by a stone wall twenty feet high.



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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