December 2021 – Post 13 Trivia
Metropolitan Police Force 1857-70
John Young, Patrolman
The New York State Legislature established a Metropolitan Police District that included the Police of New York, Kings, Westchester and Richmond counties. All members of the Municipal Police of New York and Brooklyn were to continue under their existing arrangements until the first meeting of the Board of Commissioners. They shall be members of the new Metropolitan Police Force.
The Republican Legislature passed the Act (15 APR 1857) because of corruption allegations and the Democratic and Tammany Hall’s control of police. The same act was amended (10 APR 1860) the towns of Newtown, Flushing and Jamaica in Queens County. All elected constables or assistant police constables in villages (Yonkers & West Farms) within said metropolitan became members of the Metropolitan Police Force.
Throughout May and June the patrolman of the various wards (precincts) case their lots with either the municipal (Mayor Woods) or the metropolitan police. Fifteen captains and eight hundred men stayed with the Municipals, while the Metro Police had seven captains and three hundred men. Almost all of the “silk stocking” Fifteenth Ward were native born and agreed to obey the new commissioners. In Democratic wards with many were foreign born (Irish & German)- policemen remained faithful to the Mayor.
Guess, Democratic mayors took care of their cops back then! Remember FDNY were only volunteers back then! There was no parity and G-men didn’t make 90% of a patrolman’s salary. The 1857 yearly salaries were: Doorman ($700), Patrolman ($800), Sergeant ($900) and Captain ($1200)
After some fisticuffs (Police Riot) between the Municipals and the Metropolitans at City Hall and Independence Day Riot (1857) between the Dead Rabbits versus Bowery Boys, the State Court of Appeals ruled that the Metropolitan Police Force (2 JUL 1857). Patrolmen Thomas Sparks was killed (3 JUL 1857) and Horatio Sanger, later died of his wounds (22 NOV 1857) received from rioters. Their deaths resulted in the Police Life & Health Insurance Fund (Chapter 569, Laws of 1857)
The Metropolitan’s top cop was Superintendent (Chief of Police) John Kennedy who led them for a decade (1860-70). Probably their most famous deeds came during the Draft Riots, July 1863. For saving the city, the newspapers championed “sick pay” for cops. Cops got half-pay for line of duty injuries. How many of you remember getting half pay for the first three days on Sick Report. The other half-day’s pay went into their Police Pension Fund. Same provision remained in Article I (1919) and Article H (1940) funds.
Martin Scorsese got it wrong in his 2002 movie “Gangs of New York.” His Dead Rabbits fought the Native Americans (Bowery Boys) in Five Points, near the present 5th Precinct in 1857. His movie should have shown the Draft Riot (1863) being started by the Black Joke Engine Company #33 .The firemen thought they were exempt from military service. Same thing happened during World War II. Everybody loves a fireman!