Our Police Protectors
History of New York Police
Chapter 12, Part 3

By Holice and Debbie


Table of lodgers for a series of years from 1861 to April 5, 1782:


# of Lodgers

New York City

























1869 (to Nov. 1)



From Nov. 1, 1869 to April 5, 1870











Average per Year




There was delivered by the several Precincts, Detective and Court Squads, from April 5, 1871 to April 5, 1872, property consisting of animals, carriages, trucks, carts, and merchandise, and with money and valuables taken from prisoners as personal property, a sum aggregating one million one hundred and ninety-three thousand, none hundred and eighty-seven dollars and seventy-two cents. The Property's Clerk's returns for the same period amounts to one hundred and one thousand and seventy-five dollars, and ninety-three cents; making a grand total of one million, two hundred and ninety-five thousand, and sixty-three dollars and sixty-five cents.

A committee, representing the business, professional and commercial interest of New York, desiring to pay a market tribute to the heroism of the Police Force, and their devotion to duty, sent the following communication to the Police Board:


NEW YORK, Oct. 5, 1872.


The commercial bodies, represented by the undersigned, together with certain other corporations, and sundry private citizens of New York City, wishing to show their appreciation of the fidelity, discipline, and gallantry shown by the Police force on many occasions of public disturbance, notably during the riots of July, 1863, and 1871, have provided to be made an appropriate flag, and commissioned the undersigned to present it in their name to the Department.

They wish it to be regarded and preserved by the Police Department as the "Flag of Honor," and stipulate that it shall only be carried at the annual parades, and at the funerals of members of the force who die in consequence of injuries received in the line of duty.

The undersigned feel pleasure in being selected to perform this agreeable duty on behalf of the body of their fellow-citizens, for they are satisfied that this testimony has been earned by the good behavior of the guardians of the public peace in times of great peril. They feel confident that the officers and men under your control will in the future, as in the past, be always ready to respond to the call of duty, and thus continue to deserve the approbation and respect of their fellow-citizens of the city of New York.

Requesting you to acknowledge receipt of this communication, and to designate a suitable time and place for the ceremony of presentation, we are gentlemen,

Your Obedient Servants,

W. E. Dodge
George W. Savage
A. S. Jewell
--- King
F. Y. Lattroop (?)
Mr. Al. .--
H. L. Olcott
Alexander Shaler

To the Board of Police Commissioners of the City of New York

An Act to re-organize the local government of the city of New York was passed by the legislature, April 30, 1873. The most important heads of which are as follows:

The Police Department to have for its head a Board, to consist of five persons: the Police force to consist of a Superintendent, three Inspectors, Captains, Sergeants, Patrolmen, Doorman, and as many clerks and employees as the Board might, from time to time, determine, and the funds appropriated allows; the Patrolmen not be increased in any one year more then one hundred. The board might appoint twenty-two Sergeants.

The qualifications for membership on the force were: Such Policeman should be a citizen of the United States, never convicted of crime, must read and write, and reside in the State one year.

A Police officer could not withdraw or resign except by permission of the Board of Police; unexplained absence for five days was to be deemed equivalent to a resignation.

The Police Department (Chapter 137, April 5, 1870) made the salaries of the Police Commissioners equal to the salary of the Recorder, namely, fifteen thousand dollars. By a subsequent Act (April; 26, 1870; chapter 383) the Treasurer of the Police Board received an additional salary of one thousand five hundred dollars. This lasted until the framing of the Charter (April 30, 1873), which designated the salaries of the Commissioners as follows: President of the Board, eight thousand dollars; other Commissioners, six thousand dollars.

The remainder of the Act simply recapitulated the leading features of preceding bills.

Mayor Havemayer, in pursuance of the above, appointed the following Police Commissioners: Oliver Charlick, Abram Duryea, High Gardner, John R, Russell, Henry Smith, the latter being President of the Board.

George W. Matsell was appointed Superintendent of Police by the Board of Police, on the twenty-third of May, 1873, vice James J. Kelso removed.

A subsequent Act (Chapter 755, June 13, 1873) provided for four Inspectors, the Board to fix the salaries of all clerks and employees.

Promotions were to be made by the Board on grounds of meritorious conduct and capacity; no person was to be appointed on the force who was over thirty years of age; the Police Department, through its Treasurer, in pursuance of orders of the Board, was to pay salaries, etc.

A revised manual was promulgated in 1873, from which the following facts are obtained. The "Department of Police" of the city of New York, consisted of a "Broad of Police composed of five Commissioners: and the "Police Force" and officers appointed by said Board. The Board of Police was the head of the Department of Police; governed and controlled the Department, its business and affairs, and was invested with, and exercised all, the powers conferred by law upon the Department of Police. The government and discipline of the Department of Police were such as the Board of Police, from time to time, by rules and regulations, prescribed. The territorial jurisdiction and authority of the Board of Police, and of the Police force under this direction, were co-extensive with the territorial limits of the city of New York. For the purposes of Police government, the territory of the city of New York was divided into Inspection Districts, Surgeons' Districts, and Precincts, subject to alteration, from time to time, by the Board of Police. Precincts were divided into patrol beats or posts, by the Captains, with the approval of the Superintendent, subject to alteration, from time to time, by like authority.

The territory of the city of New York was divided into two Inspection Districts, which were called and known respectively as the "Eastern District" and the "Western district." "The Eastern District" consisted of the following precincts, to wit: First, Second, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-first, Twenty-third, and Twenty-sixth. "The Western District" consisted of the following precincts, to wit: Third, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, Twentieth, Twenty-second, Twenty-fourth, Twenty-fifth, Twenty-seventh, Twenty-eighth, Twenty-ninth, Thirtieth, Thirty-first, and Thirty-second.

The Board of Police assigned the Inspectors to office duty in the Central Department, and to district duty in the Inspection Districts.

The Police force of the city of New York consisted of a Superintendent, three Inspectors, Surgeons, Captains, Sergeants, Patrolmen and Doormen, Clerk and employees, to the number of each rank authorized by law.

The Police force was divided into two Divisions, known and called respectively "the Eastern Division," and "the Western Divisions." The members of the Police force assigned to duty in the "the Eastern Division" constituted "the Eastern Division" of the force. The members of the Police force assigned to duty in "the Western District," together with the members of the Court Squads, Sanitary Company, Special Service Squad, and the Detective Force, divided into as many companies as there were precincts, such other Companies or Squads as the Board of Police might order, and the Sanitary Company in addition. A company consisted of the members of the force assigned to duty in a precinct, and in the Sanitary or other company, and comprised One Captain, Sergeants, patrolmen, and Doormen. A Squad consisted of members of the force assigned to duty in such Squad.

Meetings of the Board of Police were held as often as any three of the Commissioners might direct; but all meetings of the Board should be private, unless a majority of the Commissioners should otherwise determine. The Chief Clerk, or Deputy Clerk should be present and record its proceedings in books kept for that purpose. The ayes and noes were taken on all judgments dismissing members from the force, and on such other questions as might be required by law, or by the Board of Police, and formed part of the record. The Board was empowered to enact, modify, and repeal, from time to time, orders, rules and regulations of general discipline affecting the force, provided that they did not conflict with the Constitution of the United States, or with the constitution or laws of the State of New York. The Board made all appointments, assignments to duty, transfers of members, and all derailments; but the Superintendent might make detailment for any period not longer than three days. Certificates of appointments to office should be signed by the President, and countersigned by the Chief Clerk or first Deputy Clerk. The records of all judgments rendered by the Board in relation to members of the force were authenticated by the signature of the Chief Clerk. Charges preferred against any member of the Police force should be in writing, and verified by the oath of the complainant, except charges by a Commissioner, the Superintendent, Inspectors, Captains, Surgeons, or Chief Clerk, who might make charges in writing without oath. Charges by Sergeants and Roundsmen against members of the force, were in writing, signed by the officer making the same, and were delivered to the officer in command at the station house, who immediately entered the same in the blotter, and filed the original charge so made. It was the duty of the Captains to transmit to the Superintendent a transcript of each of said charges, on the day the same were entered on the blotter. When written charges were preferred against any member of the Police force, they were filed with the Chief Clerk; whereupon specification of the charges, with a notice of the time and place of trial, were served upon the party charged two days before the day of the trial, the day of such service being counted as one of the two days. The judgments of the Board, upon charges proved true, were duly entered in the records of the department, and a notice thereof read to the force of the precincts to which the member belonged.

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

His duties, summarized, are as follows: To make quarterly reports in writing to the Board of Police, on the state of the Department of Police, and of the Police force thereof; with such statistics and suggestions for the improvement of the Police government and discipline as he should deem advisable; to repair in person to all serious or extensive fires in the city of New York; also to all riots or tumultuous assemblages within said city, and take command of the Police force present; to enforce in the city of New York all the laws of the State and ordinances of the city of New York; and also to abate all gaming-houses, rooms and premises; and places kept or used for lewd or obscene purposes and amusements; and places kept or used for the sale of lottery tickets or policies; to communicate to the Board of Police information of the presence of any dangerous epidemic or contagious or infectious disease; and any nuisance detrimental to the public health in any part of the city of New York; to inspect, from time to time, each station house and Police prison in the city of New York, and the House of Detention of witnesses; and report to the Board in relation to their order and cleanliness; and whether the books were properly kept, and the business of the station house properly conducted

He was authorized to promulgate orders to the officers and members of the force not inconsistent with law, or the rules and regulations of the Board; and all members of the force should observe and obey them.

The Superintendent, and each Captain within his precinct, possessed general Police supervision over all licensed and unlicensed pawnbrokers, venders, junk-shops, cartmen, intelligence office keepers, and auctioneers with the city. Whenever, under Section 41 of Chapter 403 of the Laws 1864, the Superintendent should cone into possession of implements of gaming, he should retain the same until the prosecution against the arrested parties should be finally concluded.

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

For the Superintendent.--The dress was a double-breasted frock coat; the waist extending to the top of the hip, and the skirt 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, five and one-half inches on the top, and three and one-half inches at the bottom; stand-up collar, rising no higher than to permit the chin freely to turnover it, to hook in front at the bottom; cuffs, three and one-half inches deep, and buttoning with three small buttons at the under-seam; two buttons on the hips, one button on the bottom of each skirt-pocket welt, and two buttons intermediate, so that there were six button on the back; collars and cuffs of dark blue velvet; lining of the coat, black. The trousers plain; black neck cloth; white gloves and collar; 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 Superintendent's office, having a bank of dark blue velvet, with a gold embroidered wreath in front embracing a silver star.

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

For Captains and Sergeants.--The same as for Superintendent, except that there were eight buttons in each row on the breast of the coat, placed at equal distances; the collar rolling; the collar and cuffs 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 work "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 a wreath in lieu of the number of the precinct.

For Patrolmen.--the dress 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 having a while welt in the outer seam; white shirt collar, and white gloves; black neckcloth; vest, single-breasted, with nine buttons placed at equal distances. The cap of navy blue cloth, to correspond with sample in the office of the Superintendent, with wreath surrounding the appropriate number in white metal.

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

For Harbor Patrolmen.--the dress was a sailor's jacket, rolling collar, coming down half-way between the hip-joint and knee; five buttons on each side of breast, two buttons on under seam of the cuffs, 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; in other respects, same as other Patrolmen.

For Doormen.--The dress 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; trousers of Cadet-mixed cloth, plain; cap, the same as Patrolmen, without wreath, but with the word "Doorman" in white metal letters, placed in front. In other particulars, same as Patrolmen.

The officers were permitted to wear the summer uniforms while in the discharge of desk duty in the station house.

The overcoat was of navy blue beaver cloth, double-breasted, rolling collar, pocket-welts on back, breast pocket with flap on the right side, the waist extending to one inch below the hip, and the skirt to three inches below the bend of the knee, swell edge stitch one-fourth of an inch from edge, flaps on pocket, swell edge stitched one fourth of an inch from edge. Inspectors had seven Police buttons on each breast, and six on the back and shirt, and three on the cuffs. Captains had eight Police buttons on each breast, six on the back and skirt, and three on the cuffs. Patrolmen had nine Police buttons on each breast, four on the back and skirt, and two on the cuffs.

Captains wore the prescribed uniform at all times, unless specially authorized to wear citizen's clothes by the Board of Superintendent of Police.

Sergeants, Roundsmen, Patrolmen, and Doormen, wore the prescribed uniform at all times when their respective platoons were on patrol or reserve duty; and when the off platoon might be called on duty on extraordinary occasions.

When either of the above enumerated members of the force attended at any Court, as witness or complainant; or at regular or special drills for exercise; or at Headquarters, on any business whatever; or at the School of Instruction, he appeared in the prescribed uniform.

Members of the force might, for special purposes, be relieved from wearing uniform, by the Board or by the Superintendent of Police; but at no time, while in citizen's dress, was any member exempted from the performance of Police duties.

Special Patrolmen, during the service authorized by Chapter 383 of the Laws of 1870, wore a shield of white metal, with the Coat of Arms of the city of New York and the words "Municipal Police, Special," with serial numbers, in figures, impressed thereon, in the form to be prescribed by the Board of Police.

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 half-way between the articulation of the hip-joint and the knee, with four buttons on the front, no pockets showing on the outside, and the trousers made same as in winter.

For Harbor Patrolmen, flannel sack coat, and flannel trousers made like the above, and sennet hat.

Coats for Captains, double-breasted, buttoning close up to the chin, with short rolling collar, 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 welt in the seams.

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

No person shall be appointed a Patrolman unless--

He was able to read and write the English language understandingly.

He was a citizen of the United States.

He had been a resident of this State during a term of one year next prior to his application for appointment, and had been a resident of the city of New York for six consecutive months immediately preceding that time.

He had never been convicted of crime.

He was at lest five feet seven inches in height, measured in his bare feet; and weighed not less than one hundred and thirty-five pounds avoirdupois, without clothing.

He was of good health, and sound in body and mind.

He was of good moral character and habits.



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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