Police Books

George W. McWatters

Home | By Police Department | By Police Officer | By Police Subjects | Law Enforcement Books by State | Other Law Enforcement Writers | Poetry, Prayers & Articles | FAQs | Contact Us | Site Map

KNOTS UNTIED: Or, Ways and By-Ways in the Hidden Life of American Detectives.
Officer George S. McWatters  More Info

About the New York Police Department (NYPD):

The first law-enforcement officer began to patrol the trails and paths of New York City when it was known as New Amsterdam, and was a Dutch settlement and fort in the year 1625. This lawman was known as a "Schout – fiscal" (sheriff – attorney) and was charged with keeping the peace, settling minor disputes, and warning colonists if fires broke out at night. The first Schout was a man named Johann Lampo.


The Rattle Watch was a group of colonists during the Dutch era (1609 - 1664) who patrolled from sunset until dawn. They carried weapons, lanterns and wooden rattles (that are similar to the ratchet noisemakers used during New Year celebrations). The rattles made a very loud, distinctive sound and were used to warn farmers and colonists of threatening situations. Upon hearing this sound, the colonists would rally to defend themselves or form bucket-brigades to put out fires. The rattles were used because whistles had not yet been invented. The Rattle Watchmen also are believed to have carried lanterns that had green glass inserts. This was to help identify them while they were on patrol at night (as there were no streetlights at that time). When they returned to their Watch House from patrol, they hung their lantern on a hook by the front door to show that the Watchman was present in the Watch House. Today, green lights are still hung outside the entrances of Police Precincts as a symbol that the "Watch" is present and vigilant.


When the High Constable of New York City, Jacob Hays retired from service in 1844, permission was granted by the Governor of the state to the Mayor of the City to create a Police Department. A force of approximately 800 men under the first Chief of Police, George W. Matsell, began to patrol the City in July of 1845. They wore badges that had an eight-pointed star (representing the first 8 paid members of the old Watch during Dutch times). The badges had the seal of the City in their center and were made of stamped copper.





George W. McWatters was known in some New York social circles as the “Literary Policeman” as well as the “Prince.” Likely born in Scotland, he was raised and educated in Ireland.  As an adult he worked in Ireland as a mechanic and early in his adult life moved to London where he continued to work as a mechanic and met his wife.  George McWatters and his family immigrated to the United States in the middle of the 19th Century and he studies law in Philadelphia between 1848 and 1849.  From Philadelphia he went to California and after nine months returned to the East Coast, settling in New York.  He joined the New York Police Department in 1858, and retired in 1870.  He is the author of Knots untied: Or, Ways and by-ways in the hidden life of American Detectives.

© 2004 - 2018 Hi Tech Criminal Justice