The New Student's Reference Work/Police

Police (pṓ-lēs′) are an organized force — especially in towns and cities — for the preservation of peace and order and the prevention of crime.  This definition applies more particularly to the police of the United States and of England, as the police of most European countries have much wider functions, and are often used by rulers and ministers for political purposes and in a more or less oppressive manner.  The existing sytem of police administration in England is of recent origin, and many features of it were introduced during the reign of Queen Victoria.  In the early periods of English history there was no such thing as a separate body of police, the responsibility for the maintenance of the peace being imposed on each hundred or tithing and the individuals composing these divisions being held jointly liable for the consequences of any violations of law which occurred within their limits.  In the larger towns the inhabitants of the various wards kept watch within their limits, special watchmen being gradually introduced; but these duties of watch and ward were performed very inefficiently, and crimes were committed with marked impunity, especially in London and other large cities.  During the 18th century various efforts were made to remedy this state of things in London and to secure a more efficient administration both in the prevention and detection of crime; but the results obtained were very unsatisfactory.  In 1829 Sir Robert Peel organized the metropolitan police, placing the new force under the control of the secretary of state, and since that time the police of counties and boroughs have been organized upon the same principles as the metropolitan police, except that they are under the local authority.  The strength of this body of metropolitan police was 19,761 in 1911; 31 superintendents, 604 inspectors, 2,620 sergeants and 16,506 constables. The City of London police-force numbers 1,180 men, exclusive of those on private service and detective duty and of those known as metropolitan police.  The police-force throughout the kingdom is a civil, not a military body, with the exception of the royal Irish constabulary, which is more military than civil.  This force is directly under the Irish government, and its members are armed and drilled as soldiers.  It consisted in 1905 of 11,338 members under the command of an inspector-general, each county being supervised by a county-inspector and divided into separate districts over which are placed district-inspectors.  Below these officers are sergeants and constables, trained in the use of arms and disciplined as soldiers.  The police-force of Scotland numbered 5,356 and of England and Wales 45,202.

In the United States each town or city has its separate administration; but, in general, the police-system is much like that of England.  The present police organization of New York, which was substituted for the inefficient night-watch in 1845, may be taken as a type of the American system generally.  It consists of a board of police, comprising four commissioners appointed by the mayor, and the police-force, who with their various officers are appointed by the board.  The city is divided into four inspection-districts, which are subdivided into 35 precincts.  At the head of the force are a commissioner and deputies, a chief inspector, under whom are one borough and 12 district-inspectors, a captain over each precinct, sergeants, roundsmen (visiting officers), patrolmen (the body of the force) and doormen at the stations, besides 23 surgeons and 68 police-matrons.  The captains report every morning to the central office.  The roundsmen must see that the patrolmen perform their duties, and the sergeants are responsible for both.  Besides the general force there are several bodies or squads organized for special services.  Among these are the sanitary police, the detective-force, the harbor-police, park-police and two boiler-inspectors.  In 1911 the police-force of Greater New York numbered 10,136 men, of whom 8,564 were patrolmen, the annual cost of the entire force being about 15 million dollars.  The police-force of Chicago—now the second city in the Union—during the year 1910 numbered 4,260 and cost $5,825,454.