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A Future President On NYC Police Recruiting Standards.

The following is a transcript of a Theodore Roosevelt Article/Press release for Police recruitment written to be published in the New York Times Newspaper in the summer of 1895. The Article states what physical, mental, and moral qualities Theodore Roosevelt who was then the President of the Board of Police, was looking for in potential New York City police officers.

Created by Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt in 1895 to apprehend speeding horse-drawn carriages, the 29-member bike squad, known as the "Scorcher Squad," made 1,366 arrests in its first year. By the end of 1917, the NYPD had 276 motorcycles, 1,025 bicycles, 327 horses and 86 cars, wagons and trucks
Teddy Roosevelt and his original band of Rough Riders aka The Scorcher Squad.

The entire article reads as follows: 

The salary of a policeman at the beginning is $1,000 a year and within five years it rises to $1400 more ever all the higher places, from that of Rollins men to that of chief which are over 400 number and which range in salary up to $6000 are filled by promotion from the ranks. At the end of 25 years the officer is retired on a pension of Half pay for life no member of force can be discharged except after trial and for a good cause. No weakling no man of bad moral character and imperfect physical development need apply we need men of intelligence and sobriety and for men who fill these requirements The chance is one such as rarely offers never before in the history of the city have so many appointments to the police force in open and never before have these appointments been able been open to all citizens strictly on their merits. It is a chance such as does not offer itself once in a generation. All persons fitted for the service or earnestly desired to come forward at once as the appointments must be made within the next four months. All further information and all application blanks, maybe had by mail by addressing civil service board police headquarters, 300 Mulberry St., New York City. Applicants need not apply in person. Absolute fairness is guaranteed and of those that pass examinations all are appointed save in the in frequent cases where subsequent investigation shows some moral shortcomings. I wish this could be published in your paper yours truly “Theodore Roosevelt” President Board of police.


President of the Board of Police, Theodore Roosevelt seated center with officers of the N.Y.C.P.D.

In May of 1895, Theodore Roosevelt became the president of the board of commissioners and radically reformed the New York City police force. Roosevelt was the police commissioner between 1895 and 1897, during which time he implemented regular inspections of firearms and annual physical exams, appointed recruits based on their physical and mental qualifications, rather than political affiliation. He also established Meritorious Service Medals, and closed corrupt police hostelries. During his tenure, a Municipal Lodging House was established by the Board of Charities, and Roosevelt required officers to register with the Board; he also had telephones installed in station houses.

New York Police Man in 1693
New York Police Officer 1693

Roosevelt had a habit of walking officers’ beats late at night and early in the morning to make sure that they were on duty. He made a concerted effort to uniformly enforce New York’s Sunday closing law. By doing this, he ran into trouble with boss Tom Platt and Tammany Hall and was notified that the Police Commission was being legislated out of existence.

Meanwhile, Roosevelt’s crackdowns led to protests and demonstrations. He was invited to one large demonstration, and not only did he accept, to everyone’s surprise he delighted in the insults, caricatures and lampoons that were directed at him, and he reportedly earned a great deal of unintended good will from his detractors. In the end, Roosevelt chose to defer and resign his office rather than cause a rift with his party. Later, as the elected Governor of New York State, he would sign an act replacing the New York City Police Commission with a single Police Commissioner.

Reprinted in part. All rights are reserved and retained for the original author.

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