New Badges for City Police (Sept 26, 1898)
John Young, Patrolman
Remember the term the “Pottsy” ! Some will say it was Jay Irving’s syndicated comic strip which appeared in New York newspaper from 195S to 1970.
Other old-timers will say “it’s the silver shield that has been carried by New York City Patrolman and Police Officers since 1902. The original “pottsy” was the patrolman’s Shield (1889-98) that resembled a folder tin-can that city children would use as a tossing Implement in the sidewalk game “potsy” played on city streets during the 1890s.
Years ago, someone sent me the following New York Times article:
“Bundles of new badges for the police force of the greater city were sent from headquarters to all stations houses yesterday and each new squad was sent out last night the new badges were worn. The policeman’s badge is of white metal, smaller and thicker than that was in use in Manhattan. It is a shield bearing on a field roughened with dots the city’s coat of arms with the legend “City of New York-Police” above it and the number of the policeman below on a scroll. They are enameled and cheap looking and they cost 94 cents apiece.
There are twelve kinds of badges and there are 7576 of these in all. Four kinds of shields are of gold and three of gold gilt, resembling gold. The rest are German silver or white metal, silvered.
The gold badges are those of the chief, the deputy chief, the inspectors and the Police Surgeons. The captains, sergeants and detective sergeants are of yellow metal, fire gilt. The patrolmen’s, roundsmen’s, Central Office detectives, precinct detectives and doormen’s badges are of white metal.
The roundsman’s shield is the same as the patrolmen’s except it is surmounted by an eagle. The Central Office detective’s badge is the roundsman’ s with different lettering. The sergeants’ and detective sergeants’ badges are the same as the roundsmen’s and the detectives, excepting that they are made of yellow metal and have different lettering.
The precinct detectives’ badges are the same as the badges they have been using and the doorman’s shield is very much like the policeman’s. The four gold badges resemble the former badges and the captain’s is almost identical. The slight difference, however, makes it necessary for a number of captains to give up their handsome jewel studded badges of the old pattern, the gifts of friends”.
In 1908, the rank “roundsman” was changed to sergeant, and those sergeants became lieutenants, while precinct doorman became patrolman. This was the same year that the grey helmet (lunch bucket) WCTe replaced a blue cap with black visor. Salaries were the same, $1400 per annum. Patrolmen got a hundred dollar raise from the city’s Board ofEstimate in 1918. Top pay for Patrolman, First Grade was $8,090 in 1964.