About the 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 Department.
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