I love spending time in John Jay College's great Lloyd Sealy Library browsing NYPD annual police reports from 100 years ago. Even older ones are available to the public online.
In 1912 the total force was 10,371 plus 268 civilian.
Three motor patrol wagons were installed during the year 1912 [making 4]. It is proposed to immediately purchase ten additional wagons of the same type. Each of these vehicles replaces three horse-drawn wagons. The savings in salaries of the drivers alone pay for the original cost of the vehicle [$2,840] in about six months.There were the 25 motorcycles, 55 bicycles, and 679 horses (139 patrol wagon, 483 saddle service).
Crime and arrests: 300 homicides, 107,227 misdemeanor arrests (60,493 for intoxication and/or disorderly conduct), and 18,780 felony arrests (242 for cocaine, 2 for opium).
Pay was to be not less than $1,000 for a patrolmen. Pension was requested to be 2% per year after 25 years of service.
In 1919 NYC had 5.6 million people and 10,000 cops, the ratio of which was considered a big low compared to other cities.
In 1925, 453 children under 16 were killed by cars and trolleys. That's a lot! By 1948 this number was brought down to 82. In 2015 there were 250 people of all ages killed by traffic. I guess the 1920s was the first time in human history when kids weren't supposed to play in the streets.
I love the category of "roller skating, etc."
From 1926 to 1933, an average of 7 officer a year "died in the heroic performance of duty." An additional 5.5 died "as the result of accidents while on duty." There were just under 19,000 uniformed personnel.
In 1933, at the end of prohibition, there were 431 murders: 6 homicides from bootleggers’ dispute (down from 16 in 1932), 3 narcotic disputes, 3 slot machine disputes, and 2 prostitution disputes. 997 traffic fatalities. Total arrests 460,484.
There were 12 motorcycles with side cars, armored. 64 2-passenger radio equipped coupes were purchased. There were 240 2 passengers, radio equipped "runabouts." 123 had no radio. Keep in mind there were one-way radios! "Standard equipment, seven tube super-heterodyne radio receivers have been installed in four hundred Department automobiles." Radio Motor patrol made 2,162 arrests.
Under the great Mayor LaGuardia, police re-entered the social welfare game:
The Unemployment Relief Bureau was established to function in connection with the work of obtaining aid and relief for the unemployed.1,780,600 lbs of coal distributed. 16,334 articles of clothing, 220,000 food tickets (redeemed at authorized stores) worth $684,814, $70,799 in cash.
Members of the Force were assigned to investigate applications for the relief cases of distress, visit owners of property whose tenants were in arrears in payment of rent with a view of obtaining monetary relief from the Mayor's Official Committee.
Food checks were issued to families requiring assistance.
The nature of relief rendered through the Mayor’s Official Committee was as follows:
A) monetary assistance
B) distribution of food tickets
C) Distribution of fuel
D) distribution of clothing
E) Securing positions for unemployed
F) cases referred to other agencies.
31,094 (!) pistol licenses were issued (bringing in $286.50). 74 tear gas permits (?!) issued along with 418 religious permits (30 were disapproved). Other permits that the Pistol License Bureau could issue were: "auctioneers, bail bond agents, candidates for admission to the Bar, Hotel runners’ license, loud speaker permits, masque ball permits, massage operators, massage institute license, miscellaneous investigations, piston license, religious permits, tear gas permits, various investigations for the Department of License."
By 1939 homicides in the city dropped to 291 (78 shooting, 96 cutting, 85 assault). There were still 326 motorcycles and 375 horses in service.
In 1948 there were 315 murders. 93 were shootings and 59 were categorized as "marital or passion."
My favorite part goes comes from the 1913 report and the complaint about the lack of "fruit and other food in season" at the canteen, something "that seems to have been completely overlooked"! Well, I say, the Chef does need to up his game!
And here's the official chronology of the NYPD, up to 1900: