Our Police Protectors
History of New York Police
Chapter 7, Part 2

By Holice and Debbie

 

It was a frequent practice, with the Aldermen and Magistrates of the cities of New York and Brooklyn, to proceed to the Police station immediately upon the arrest of disorderly or riotous persons, and discharge them from custody. This emboldened the dangerous classes and tended to bring the law into contempt, while it discouraged the Police in the performance of their duty.

Up to the middle of July there were not, on an average, more than five hundred men (including officers) actually doing duty, whereas, under the old law, there were upwards of one thousand two hundred. On the twenty-first of August, an apportionment was made, giving to each Precinct its allotted number of Officers and Patrolmen. This appointment had to be made from the limited number of eight hundred and sixty regular Patrolmen, from whom had to be take a sufficient number to be detailed at the Court of Sessions and Police District courts, the commissioners' offices , and the General and Deputy Superintendent's offices, and for the contingent and necessary duties.

It had been a year of riots and disturbances, of financial panic and business disaster. Prior to he end of December here had been nine hundred and eighty-five failures among the merchants of the city of New York, involving liabilities exceeding one hundred and twenty million. There were ominous mutterings of bread riots among the more impoverished part of the population. The arsenal was protected by a strong Police force, and United States troops were placed in charge of the Custom House and Assay Offices.

The Police force was inadequate to the protection of the city. With a population of eight hundred and twenty thousand, and rapidly increasing, the force numbered but on hundred and fifty-seven more than when the population was three hundred and fifty thousand. The disparity of the Police to the population, at this period, may be inferred from the following table of the force employed in the cities of Great Britain:

City

Population

Miles

Area in Miles

Proportion to Population

London (City)

128,851

569

1-3/4

1 to 226

London (Metro)

2,646,278

5,813

700

1 to 455

Liverpool

423,061

906

7-3/4

1 to 467

Bristol

140,000

248

7

1 to 564

Dublin

291,948

775

6

1 to 376

Glasgow

400,000

684

12-1/4

1 to 585

Manchester

337,412

552

6-5/8

1 to 611

In the city of New York, the proportion of Patrolmen to the population was, in

1844

1 to 414

1858

1 to 804

The necessity for an increase of the Police was demonstrated by the arrests made in a series of years. Arrest made from:

May, 1846 to May, 1847

24,851

May, 1847 to May, 1848

24,081

May, 1848 to May, 1849

25,808

May, 1849 to May, 1850

24,756

April, 1850 to January, 1851

26,581

January, 1851 to January, 1852

36,224

January, 1852 to January, 1853

36,257

January, 1853 to January, 1854

40,084

January, 1854 to January, 1855

52,712

January, 1855 to January, 1856

52,815

January, 1856 to January, 1857

18,859

July, 1857 to November, 1857

15,833

November, 1857 to November, 1858

61,455

The commissioners drew the attention of the legislature and the executive to these facts, and argued that the city and is suburbs should be policed by a force adequate to patrol every street and lane by day and by night. Attention was also called to the fact that the beats of the Patrolmen at this time (1858) were in many instances two miles in length, and in several of the precincts, which contained forty thousand inhabitants, there could be detailed for regular duty during the day but eight men. The Act establishing the Metropolitan Police invested the Supervisors of the several counties of the district with the power to determine the number of Patrolmen to be appointed in each. The commissioners had urged upon the supervisors of New York the necessity of an increase of the Police, for that city without effect, and the legislature was petitioned, in view of the pressing importance of the public peace, and for the security of property, to authorize the appointment of three hundred and fifty patrolmen in addition to the number then allowed by law.

This, in fact, was an anxious period, and a trying one, for the recently organized Police force. Its trials and troubles were many and grievous. It was the duty of the Common councils of New York and Brooklyn to furnish the stations suitably, and to warm then light them. This, and other kindred duties, the corporations of the two cities had failed to do. Many of the station houses were so out of repaid as to be unfit for habitation; other were so poorly ventilated, or so limited in size, as to engender disease. Platoons of twenty men were crowded into small and imperfectly ventilated rooms. The Police surgeons designated many of the stations as pest-houses, so fruitful were they of disease. The cellars of the station houses were divided into cells, for the retention of prisoners, and into rooms for the houseless poor. The stench that arose form these rooms poisoned the atmosphere of the whole building.

Truly the contrast with the present commodious and well-appointed station houses is a striking one.

The Police Act required that the Comptrollers of the cities of New York and Brooklyn, the Chairman of the Boards of supervisors of the counties of New York, Kings, Westchester, and Richmond, should meet annually as an auditing committee, and apportion the sums requisite and needful to be raised or Police purposes b y each county. The auditing committee met for this purpose in august, 1857, and made the following apportionment:

To be raised by the County of New York

$868,070.00

To be raised by the City of Brooklyn

206,600.00

General expenses of Police, to be raised by the City and County of New York

20,478,60

To be raised by the County of Kings

4,062.13

To be raised by the county of Westchester

1,503.95

To be raised by the County of Richmond

355.32

The Counties of Westchester and Richmond refused to pay the sums assessed on them.

The Police force of the Metropolitan Police districts on the first of November, 1858 was as follows:

General Superintendent of Police

1

Deputy Superintendent in New York

1

Deputy superintendent in Brooklyn

1

Captains--New York

25

Captains--Brooklyn

6

Sergeants--New York

105

Sergeants--Brooklyn

30

Patrolmen--New York

1.063

Patrolmen--Brooklyn

198

Arrests made during the year ending October 31, 1858: in the City of New York, sixty-one thousand four hundred and fifty-five, exclusive of thirteen thousand nine hundred and eighteen in Brooklyn.

Incidental duties discharged by the Policemen in the city of New York, for the year ending October 31, 1858:

121,5987

Persons lodged in station houses

7,552

Lost children restored to parents and guardians

58

Abandoned infants taken care of

751

Sick or disabled persons in the streets taken home

134

Persons rescued from drowning

180

Fires extinguished by the Police

1,724

Stores and dwellings found open at night, secured

584

Strayed horses restore to owners

 

Property stolen, as reported at station house

$165,825.47

Recovered by Police

96,065.94

Recovered by Detective Force (property stolen elsewhere than in the Police District)

65,025.00

Taken from lodgers and prisoners, and restored to them

55,953.00

Telegraphic Messages

78,336

There were thirteen surgeons attached to the force, whose duty it was to examine and report to the Board of commissioners on the physical condition of candidates for the office of Patrolmen, and to perform such professional duty as might be directed by the General or Deputy Superintendent of Police, without fee or expense to the member of the force.

New York Police Stations were located as follows:

Number

Location

1

Franklin Market, corner of Rector Street and Trinity Place

2

49 Beekman Street

3

79 Warren Street

4

9 Oak Street

5

49 Leonard Street

6

12 Franklin Street

7

Gouverneur Market

8

126 Wooster Street

9

94 Charles Street

10

Essex Market

11

Houston and Second Streets

12

126th St., near 3rd Ave.

13

Corner of Delancey and Attorney Sts.

14

53 Spring Street

15

221 Mercer Street

16

156 W. 20th St.

17

75 First Avenue

18

163 E. 22nd. St.

19

59th St., between 2nd and 3rd Aves.

20

212 W. 35th St.

21

34 E. 39th St.

22

48th St. and 8th Ave.

23

56th St., between 4th and 5th Aves.

24

Corner of State and Whitehall Sts.

25

Basement of Police Headquarters, corner of Broome and Elm Sts.

26

Basemen of City Hall

 

 

Next

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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