Our Police Protectors
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
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:
In the city of New York, the proportion of Patrolmen to the population was, in
The necessity for an increase of the Police was demonstrated by the arrests made in a series of years. Arrest made from:
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:
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:
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:
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:
|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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