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A Cop's Life: Philadelphia, 1953-1983
Allan Cole  More Info

About the Philadelphia Police Department

The history of the Philadelphia Police Department traces its origin to Hans Block who, in 1663, established the first system of patrol in the city's Swedish settlement.  By the year 1700, Philadelphia had increased its population to 4,400. As a result of this growth, the citizenry established a method of citizen participation known as "Town Watch." This system remained the basic form of police protection until 1751.

 

Today, Philadelphia, with approximately 6,900 uniformed police, has the fourth largest police department in the country. Philadelphia is also the fourth largest per capita among the twenty largest cities in America. Department sizes among major cities vary greatly, from Indianapolis with 1,030 to New York City with 36,800. Philadelphia’s own department has fluctuated in size over the years, from a peak of 8,500 in 1979 to just over 6,000 in the early 1990s.

 

The Police Department of Philadelphia, as in other cities, is a military-like organization in which each sworn officer holds a rank. Ranks begin with patrol officer and end with police commissioner. The job of managing and directing the department rests in the hands of the Commissioner, who reports directly to the city’s Managing Director and ultimately to the Mayor. The Commissioner is appointed by the Managing Director with approval by the Mayor, and has no fixed term of office (Charter Section 3-206). The Charter allows for two Deputy Police Commissioners to be appointed by the Commissioner, as well as an executive secretary. In recent years several Deputy Managing Directors have been appointed to assist the Commissioner as well. The 1998 fiscal year budget for the Philadelphia Police Department is $352 million, 14% of the city’s entire General Fund revenues.

 

All of the members of the Police Department, except the Commissioner and his deputies, are civil service employees. Civil service as a system was adopted in Philadelphia in 1885 to recognize the capable, not just the politically connected, in the awarding of city jobs through merit-based exams. Since that time, the system has been revamped three times, most recently in 1951, in an effort to bring it closer to its ideal. All sworn members of the force also belong to the Fraternal Order of Police, its collective bargaining unit. Police Department civilian employees (who are not sworn uniformed officers) are also protected by civil service and handle a great deal of administrative tasks for the department but are not members of the FOP.

 

Each of the Commissioner’s deputies is responsible for different bureaus of the operations and administration of the department. Each bureau is commanded by a chief inspector, and most officers are within the patrol bureaus, which are further subdivided into six geographical patrol divisions and twenty-three patrol districts to encompass the entire city. Patrol divisions are commanded by an inspector, and patrol districts are commanded by a captain. A patrol district is staffed by four platoons, each consisting of a lieutenant, two sergeants, and approximately forty officers.

 

Major "off-street" functions of the Police Department include the training bureau which operates the Police Academy; the communications bureau which manages radio and 911 operations; the staff services bureau which coordinates such functions as laboratory work, evidence tracking, and the maintenance of criminal records; the internal investigations bureau which is charged with ensuring the integrity of the police force; and other bureaus and units that provide administrative functions such as human resources, information systems, and research and planning.

 

Source:

ppdonline.org

Thomas Grubb, a thirty-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, co-authored an autobiography with his nephew, Allan Cole.  According to the book description, “Christmas, 1953: While the rest of Philadelphia sings "Jingle Bells," Tom Grubb gets his first taste of a cop's life. Before he cashes his first paycheck he encounters: A man gutted by a knife-wielding mugger; A fighting-mad mental case intent on destroying a hospital emergency room; The hushed-up shooting death of an undercover cop. That first week is nothing compared to what lies ahead during the next thirty years. A Cop's Life is the remarkable story of a truly remarkable man.”

One reader of A Cop's Life: Philadelphia, 1953-1983 said, “This book is a departure from my normal reading genres, but a friend recommended I read it and I'm glad he did. It is written in an unpretentious, personal narrative writing style of an uncle to a nephew (Grubb to Cole). The book draws you into the world of a rookie cop, poorly equipped and trained by today's standards, in Philadelphia in the 1950's. Mr. Grubb takes us back into his world and provides lessons in both history and humanity. What impressed me most was the quiet, unassuming professionalism and personal character Mr. Grubb demonstrated while working in some of Philadelphia's toughest neighborhoods peopled with pimps, prostitutes, pushers and junkies -- good cops and bad. This book is nothing like the sanitized TV cop shows of today. It is instead an accurate account of a difficult job in a different time. Check it out. I think you'll enjoy it.”

Another reader of A Cop's Life: Philadelphia, 1953-1983 said, “I thought it most interesting that Mr. Cole and Mr. Grubb have won highest praise possible - the good opinion of police officers themselves. Here are just a few of the comments I read on the back of the book: "'A Cop's Life'" is a must read by anyone who ever wore the uniform or badge!" - Robert V. Eddie, Recording Secretary Philadelphia Lodge #5 Fraternal Order of Police; "If you like the inside story, if you like dealing with facts and not fluff, then you will love reading 'A Cop's Life!'"- Michael G. Lutz, President, Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police; "I thoroughly enjoyed 'A Cop's Life.'" It was both witty and right on target." - Bill Pawley Inspector, Retired, Philadelphia Police.”

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