Our Police Protectors
History of New York Police
Chapter 12, Part 4

By Holice and Debbie


The police force, on the last day of December, 1873, consisted of the following:

Superintendent, one; Inspectors, four; Captains, thirty-five; Sergeants, one hundred and forty-one; Patrolmen, twenty-two hundred; Doormen, seventy-two. Total force, 2,453.

On the twenty-third of May of this year, Messrs. Oliver Charlick, Hugh Gardner, Abraham Duryea, and John R. Russell were appointed by the Mayor, Commissioners of Police, and, together with Henry Smith, who continued in said office met at the Central Office and organized as a Board of Police by continuing Henry Smith President, and Oliver Charlick Treasurer of the Board. The Standing Committees were created and composed as follows:

Committee on Street Cleaning: Messrs. Charlick, Gardner, and Duryea; Committee on Station Houses: Messrs. Gardner, Duryea, Charlick and Russell; Committee on Rules and Regulations; Messrs. Duryea and Russell; Committee on Finance; Messrs. Russell, Duryea and the Treasurer.

Two special committees were appointed, as follows: Committee on Improvement, Efficiency and Economy, Messrs. Russel and Charlick; committee on Surgeons, Messrs. Russel and Gardner. The President was added as an ex-officio member of all standing committees.

Measures of economy were introduced on the report and recommendation of the Committee of Improvement, Efficiency and Economy, consisting in the dismissal of employees found to be in excess of the number required fro the efficient dispatch of business, and in the reduction of salaries--nine clerk and four telegraph operators being dismissed. The reduction effected in the salaries amount to eight thousand nine hundred dollars per annum.

By the provisions of Section 1, chapter 755 of the Laws of 1873, the Police force was established and limited as to number o and grade of office, and their salaries, as prescribed by law, was as follows: Superintendent, seven thousand five hundred dollars; Inspectors, three thousand five hundred dollars; Captains, two thousand dollars; Sergeants, one thousand six hundred dollars; Surgeons, two thousand two hundred and fifty dollars; Patrolmen, one thousand two hundred dollars; and Doormen, nine hundred dollars.

At the date of the organization of the above Board of Police, there were in office sixteen Surgeons, receiving, as above, two thousand two hundred and fifty dollars per annum each. These surgeons were dismissed, and three Surgeons appointed on salaries established by law, to examine candidates for appointment on the Police force, and to have a general supervisory care of the medical and surgical service of the department. Thirty-seven doctors residing in the various precincts of the city were designated to be sent for to attend such sick Policemen as were adjudged to require medical or surgical treatment, and to treat cases of injury or illness of citizens who might be brought to the station houses. The rate of compensation for the services of this class of Surgeons was fixed at three dollars per visit by Policemen, and for calls to citizens' cases at the station houses four dollars in the day time, and five dollars from calls occurring in the night.

It had become apparent to the Board of Police that the number of Patrolmen (two thousand one hundred) was inadequate to meet the increased and increasing demand for Patrol service of the city in every precinct (and especially in the uptown precincts, where the increase of population was rapid); there was a deficiency of force, and the constant calls from respectable citizens of all classes and conditions for a more complete and perfect Police protection of property and persons and human life, against the increasing menaces of ill-disposed and criminal persons.

The population of New York City was (1873) estimated at one million. The two thousand one hundred Patrolmen of the Police Department gave one Patrolmen to every four hundred and sixty-seven of the population. The Population of London, for the same year, was estimated at three million. The number of Patrolmen was nine thousand two hundred and sixty, or one to every three hundred and twenty-four of the population. The Board had decided to increase the force by one hundred extra Policemen, as authorized by law, but it was found that this increase could not be effected until financial means had been made to pay such an increase of the force.

ON April 30, 1874, the laws provided that the Broad of Police should consist of four Commissioners, the Mayor to appoint without the confirmation of the Board of Aldermen, any person to fill a vacancy caused by death or resignation, or who should be removed for cause.

Abram Disbecker was appointed a Police Commissioner to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Henry Smith. Commissioners Russell's term expired May 1, 1874. Messrs. Gardner and Charlick resigned in May of the same year. George W. Matsell and John R. Voorhis were appointed Police Commissioners July 7, 1874. George W. Walling was appointed Superintendent, July 23, 1874, in place of George W. Matsell.

Henry Smith, President of the Board of Police, died on the twenty-third day of February, 1874. Upon the receipt of the tidings of his death, the Board, consisting of the surviving members, unanimously adopted resolutions of regret at his untimely death, and tendered an expression of their sympathy to the grief-stricken wife and afflicted kindred of the deceased.

The death of Mr. Smith created a vacancy in the office of President of the Board of Police, which office, on the twelfth of March, 1874, was filled by the selection of Commissioner Hugh Gardner.

On the thirty-first of December, 1874, the Police force for all grades was as follows: Superintendent, one; Inspectors, four; Captains, thirty-six; Sergeants, one hundred and thirty-five; Patrolmen, two thousand two hundred and seventy-two; and Doormen, eighty; making a total of 2,521.

The total number of days lost by the whole force for the year 1874, was twenty-three thousand and twenty-six and one-half. Of this, thirteen thousand nine hundred and five and three-fourth days were paid, and nine thousand one hundred ands twenty and three-fourths unpaid, making the amount paid for sick time, forty-five thousand seven hundred and thirteen dollars and eighty-five cents.

The total number of arrests, male and females, for the year, was ninety-two thousand one hundred and twelve.

Mayor Wickham appointed William F. Smith Police Commissioner, May 1, in place of Abram Duryea, whose term had expired.

George W. Matsell and Abram Disbecker were removed, December 31, 1875, and DeWitt C. wheeler and Joel B. Erhardt appointed in their places. Sidney P. Nichols, on the expiration of the term of office of John R. Voorhis, was appointed a Police Commissioner, May 1, 1876.



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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