Policing in 1890s Boston

There isn’t all that much information on the history of the Boston Police Department drifting about the internet, and I rely mostly on newspapers from the 1890s. From my far-away view, it appears that the BPD was much better organised than the Police in London at that time, mostly because there were less (or no?) turf wars between the different districts and jurisdictions. And honestly, the London police forces were a f**king chaos.

So this is what Anna Kronberg would have seen in 1895:

Headquarters of Boston Police Department, located at Pemberton Square. Credit: Boston Public Library

Headquarters was home to the detective squad, which was fifteen men strong and officially designated as the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The detective squad’s fourteen Inspectors reported to Chief Inspector James M. Coulter, who reported directly to the Superintended Eldridge.

Source: Boston Sunday Post

The BPD had officers on horseback, bicycle, and on foot (two decades later Boston was the first city in the US to use police automobiles!), plain-clothed or uniformed. Officers carried a club, and some, but not all, detectives carried revolvers. Interestingly, BPD officers also provided charitable services. They transported the sick and injured in police ambulances to the City Hospital, and served soup to the poor at police stations.

And of course, there were the Police Call Boxes (nope, they didn’t look like the Tardis):

An early 1900s photo of a police box, which is very similar or identical to the ones used in the 1890s.

More on 1890s gruesome murder cases and how they were investigated, and on police officers in nightshirts catching criminals is coming soon!  Don’t want to miss my next post?

Sign up to my Zero Budget Backstage Pass.

Add a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.