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NCJ Number
Date Published
9 pages
The history of New York City's Police Department is traced from 1625 up through the 1990's, and changes in police organization and response to crime are noted.
In the Dutch era from 1625 to 1664, the first professional police department was created in New Amsterdam. Police officers used hand rattles as they patrolled the streets to discourage crime and apprehend criminals. Under British rule from 1664 to 1783, constables were charged with keeping the peace. They focused on such offenses as excessive drinking, gambling, prostitution, and church service disturbances. During the Revolutionary War, the British appointed a military governor and employed citizen patrols to protect New York City residents. After independence, New York adopted the London police model and established a paid professional police force in 1828. The first set of printed rules and regulations was issued to the police force in 1845, and full uniforms were adopted in 1853. The Metropolitan Police District was subsequently established by the Metropolitan Police Act. During the Civil War, violent crime increased in New York City, and a police insurance fund was established in 1864 to guarantee financial security to the families of police officers killed or disabled in the line of duty. Between 1870 and 1894, New York's police department was restructured. In 1898, the department assimilated 18 smaller police agencies and later began to use plain clothes police officers for the first time. The department experienced a period of modernization from 1900 to 1920. Following World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, and civil unrest in the 1960's, the focus in 1970's was on rebuilding police-community relations. An effort was made in the 1980's to strike a balance between rapid response and police-community relations, and community policing was adopted in the early 1990's.