Rochester Police Department
The roots of the Rochester
Police Department can be traced back to March 21, 1817, when a growing mill town carved out of the western New York forests
became the village of Rochesterville. The charter of this new village allowed
for a constable. The first night watch was decided upon on December 28, 1819, thus making the birth of the Rochester Police
Stimulated by the Erie
Canal and the railroad, Rochesterville continued to grow. In 1834, it was incorporated as the City of Rochester. The year
1853 marked the hiring of the first Police Chief, Addy Van Slyck, whose salary was $900 per year. Rochester became a leader
in law enforcement and technology. By the end of the Civil War in 1865, the night watchmen and constables were reorganized
into the "Metropolitan Police". Chief Joseph Cleary introduced telegrahic "call boxes" in the 1880's, which were later replaced
with telephones. Mounted and bicycle patrols were added in the next decade; the Betrillon System of identification was adopted
in 1903; and formal recruiting began in 1904.
Police cars and motorcycles
were introduced in the 1920's, along with traffic signals and traffic tickets. Mobile police radios were acquired in 1931,
traffic radar in 1952, and the Police Academy opened its doors in 1953. Police officers were hired through political appointment
until New York State enacted the Civil Service Law in 1900. After that point, the professionalism of the service increased,
as officers were selected and promoted through competitive examination and received increased job security and retirement
benefits. The first female officer, Nellie McElroy, was hired in 1913, becoming only the ninth policewoman in the nation.
Today, the Rochester
Police Department serves a community of approximately 230,000 people and an area of over 35 square miles. Chief Robert J.
Duffy leads an agency of over 850 sworn and non-sworn employees, who are dedicated to fair and impartial enforcement of the
law and improving the quality of life for the citizens of Rochester.