March 2023 Trivia – Origins of the PBA (Part II)

John Young, Patrolman

In the beginning, the PBA identified itself as a “protective society,” also known as a “benevolent association.” In this way, it was able to circumvent city restrictions on trade unions, but it wasn’t long before employee interests were being addressed.

In those days, patrolmen were recruited from the city’s tenements. Applicants were to be less than 30 years of age, not less than five feet, seven inches tall and 138 pounds, a U.S. citizen, a resident of the city for at least one year, able to read and write English, and be of spotless character- which meant no conviction for any crime whatsoever. Also, he was to be of sound mind and body, conditions which were certified after an examination by the Board of Surgeons.

On meeting those qualifications, the candidate then had to pay a tariff of $300 to the local alderman (now City Councilmember.) A sergeant wanting to become a police captain had to pay $10.000- $15,000 after having passed a civil service test.

The salary schedules for three grades of patrolmen—a minimum of $1,000 and maximum of $1,200— had remained unchanged since 1866.

Promotions required had to be recommended by the Police Board that wielded, accord-ing to one expert, “a discretionary power of some potency that kept the men politically amenable The Police Board was composed of four commissioners, appointed by the Mayor, by and with consent of the Board of Aldermen.

In 1890, the pay of captains had been raised from $2,000 to $2,750 and that of sergeants from $1,500 to $2,000, but it took the PBA two years of intense lobbying, from 1892 to 1894, to get legislation passed in Albany correcting the inequity for patrolmen  the PBA hired the Tammany-connected Wall Street law firm of Kinshur, Newcombe & Cardoza— with a fund of $87,500 reportedly raised through an assessment of $15.00 per member—to draft a wage-increase bill. After the proposed bill was steered arduously through two legislative sessions, the patrolmen were rewarded with a schedule of five grades calling for automatic advancement, with salaries starting at $1,000 qnd increasing to a maximum of $1,400.

Very much involving in the lobbying effort was Patrolman John McGloan, who joined the force in 1875 and is credited as the founder of the PBA, which he served as both vice-president and president from 1892 tO 1897. When he retired in 1908, at the rank of lieut-enant, the force gave him a purse $20,000, and he was hired as the lobbyist for the state association which the PBA was affiliated.

At the time of its incorporation in 1894, the PBA Board of Officers included William Moore (President), John W. McGloin (First Vice President), John T. Nilon (Second Vice President, Thomas F. Walsh (Recording Sec’y), William Gilmartin (Financial Sec’y), Martin Cahill (Treasurer), Henry J. Schryver (Sergeant-at-Arms), and Trustees Thomas Murphy, Gardiner Ruland, Thomas Devine, Norman Sly, John McGinley and William Keating. At the time, the city had 35 precincts- 31 in Manhattan and 4 in the Bronx. The police forces of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island being consolidated into NYPD until January 1898.

The original date of the organization’s incorporation was 30 MAR 1894. Members of the Executive Board gathered in Albany as members of both Houses of the State Legislature enacted a formal resolution commemorating the 100th anniversary of the association. We even had an early breakfast with Governor Mario Cuomo in the Governor’s mansion. He even autographed my place card.