History of the New York Police Department
Whether any conspiracy existed against the lives and property of the colonies, is a
question that can never be set at rest now. There can be no doubt, however, that several unfortunates suffered death, just
as if they had been actual conspirators, and that the entire community was stricken with terror at the prospect of pillage
and assassination. One result of the affair was the appointment, in 1741 of thirty-six night watchmen, including three overseers.
They were divided into three reliefs of eleven men each, and these took regular turns in guarding the city. The hours of duty
were from an hour after sunset to the beating of the reveille next morning. The expense of this Watch was defrayed from a
tax of £5741, 2s., which the Municipality was authorized to raise by a special Act of the General Assembly.
About the year 1714 the paupers were
beginning to be both numerous and troublesome, and it was proposed, instead of maintaining them by weekly pittances, as had
hither to been done, to provide a house where they could be cared for at the public expense, and be made to contribute somewhat
towards their livelihood, the scheme, however, was not carried into effect until 1734, when a commodious house was erected
on the commons, in the rear of the present City hall, and on the site of the future "old Alms House." The building
was forty-six feet long, twenty-four feet wide, and two stories high, with a cellar; and was furnished with implements of
labor to the use of the inmates. The churchwardens were appointed as overseers of the Poor, and all paupers were required
to work under penalty of receiving "moderate" correction. As the building as also a house of correction it was used
as a sort of calaboose for unruly slaves, their masters having permission to send them thither for punishment. A number of
police regulations were adopted in August, 1742. One of these ordered that twelve men, with a Constable, constantly watch
every Sunday "from sunrise to sunset, and that such Watch be continued in turn as the Night-watch are." Another
provided that n every Sunday morning from daylight to the time of the setting of the military guard, and from five o'clock
P. M.--when the guard was dismissed--until the evening Watch came on, means be adopted 'to prevent the irregularities
lately so much practices by negroes, children, and others on the Sabbath Day." the method was for one Alderman, one petty
Constable, and four firemen to walk around the city during the hours indicated, while on alternate Sundays the Assistant Alderman,
the High Constable or Marshal, one petty constable, and three firemen should serve.
The rules of 1741 regarding the Night-watch
were in effect renewed, the ground being states that of recent years great numbers of convicts had come into the city, and
it was necessary to provide against "insurrections and the plots of slaves." Constables who failed in their duties
were to be fined ten shillings; no boys or apprentices were allowed on the Watch; and the Constable in charge was to send
out the first rounds precisely an hour after sunset, and immediately on the return of the first rounds should send out another.
The rounds consisted of four Watchmen, and their duty was to walk the streets, lane, wharves, and alleys, and they were not
to return to the watch-house in less than an hour, except upon extraordinary occasions. Upon the return of the second round,
the Constable in charge was obliged to g out himself with the remaining three Watchmen and so just as his predecessors. The
process was then repeated, and in the morning the Constable called the roll to see that all his men had done full duty. The
actual expense of the Watch department was thereby increased from about £50 to £448.
In this year, Robert Bowne, a Quaker,
being elected Constable for Montgomerie Ward, refused to serve, on the ground that Quakers were, by law, exempt from such
duty. The case being carried to the Chief Justice it was decided in favor of the Quaker, and a new election was therefore
Our Police Protectors
Holice and Debbie