Our Police Protectors
History of New York Police

By Holice and Debbie



In the fall of 1883 fears were entertained that the Police Pension Fund would soon have become depleted. Under the decision of the Court of Appeals in the case of John Ryan against the Board, money to the amount of $77,420.29 was paid for judgments obtained against the Board for sick time deducted from the pay of Policemen for six years prior to 1883. Had not the Legislature opportunely stepped in and provided the remedy, within ten months a dollar of the Pension Fund would not have remained. It was during this period of depression--in October, 1883--that the writer conceived the idea of doing something which, while helping the Police pension Fund, would serve to perpetuate in durable form the historical achievements of the Police force. The writer was then a reporter in charge of the Herald Police Bureau, an office that is located opposite Police Headquarters, and, day and night, collects news that comes over the Police wires, or through Police channels, for publication. He had been so employed for a number of years, and such employment necessarily brought him a great deal in the society of Police officials and Policemen. After thinking the matter over carefully, he made known his views to the late Sidney P. Nichols, who was then a Police Commissioner and Treasurer of the Police Pension Fund. Mr. Nichols entered heartily into the project, and encouraged the writer to go ahead. With his characteristic promptitude, he waited on Commissioner French, in whose presence the writer again unfolded his plans. Mr. French also cordially approved of the scheme. It was then decided to put those ideas into practical shape, and it was also settled that the book should be published for the benefit of the Police Pension Fund. Permission to this effect was granted by the Board.

The writer continued his connection with the Herald, and, when opportunity offered, he went about the collection of his material for the book. But the work was slow and tedious, and, at the end of some six months, the writer found that if the book was to be published within a reasonable period, he should devote all his time to it, and "take off his coat" to the task. Work on the book was thenceforward shoved with all proper diligence.

Mr. Nichols' interest in the book never abated. He kept a constant intelligent supervision on the progress made, and, by his kindliness, encouraged the writer to press on, to be industrious, and to fear not. The compiler was naturally diffident of his ability to do justice to so important an undertaking; and, now that the book is printed, his diffidence has not in the least abated. He is well aware that in more able and experienced hand the story of "OUR POLICE PROTECTORS" would have been more pleasantly, accurately, and intelligently told. But he has done his best to do justice to the subject, and for this, if for nothing else, he is, perhaps, entitled to a little praise.

"Who does the best his circumstance permits, does well, acts nobly; angels could no more."

Mr. Nichols, early in the fall of 1884, was stricken down with a fatal illness, which, to some extent, retarded the progress of the work, as it was usual to consult him a good deal, particularly on business and financial affairs, in connection therewith. Had he survived, we are satisfied that he would have continued his friendly and fostering interest in the book.

It is usual for a writer to gratify the curiosity of his readers by making known to them, wither in foot-notes, or in some other form, the sources of his information. Well, this is proper, but in the present case, it would be somewhat difficult to comply with this rule, as the authorities consulted are not exclusively such as are to be found in libraries. However, it may be stated that the early historical facts were mostly obtained from the Dutch and English manuscript records in the City Hall library; also, the following authorities were, among a number of others, consulted: the Proceedings of the Common Council, City Ordinances, State Laws, various histories, Hand books, Guide Books, and Gazetteers of New York; Valentine's Manuals, O'Callahan's Documentary History of New York; and such other facts were gleaned as were to be obtained by diligent study in the Astor and Historical Libraries.

The writer is under many deep obligations to George P. Gott, Treasurer's Bookkeeper of the Police Department; Captain Kipp, Chief Clerk; Superintendent Walling, and Inspectors Murray, Dilks, Thorne and Byrnes. He also desires to extend his acknowledgments to Mrs. Frank Leslie, who kindly allowed the use of a number of valuable cuts; "New York Illustrated"; and to the Century Publishing Company for similar favors. His thanks are likewise die to George B. Taylor, of the Times, who has aided the writers in the compilation of the chapters on Inspector Byrne's Staff of Detectives, and "The Duties of a Policeman," and who had also supplied a portion of the material used in the description of the various precincts.

Mr. Thomas mast, by permission of the Messrs. Harper Brothers, has kindly furnished the clever drawings which forms the frontispiece of this book. Mr. C. de Grimm, the Telegram artist, by kind permission of Mr. James Gordon Bennett, has also supplied us with the clever sketches which are so readily distinguishable.

Valuable tables of arrest and other police statistics had been prepared, but these have been crowded out, owing to the unexpected size to which this volume had grown and the desire to go to press. In a subsequent edition these statistics will be inserted.

A. E. Costello
New York
Sept. 1, 1885.



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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