Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Early History of the First Years of the Pelham Manor Police Department

I have written before about the early days of the Pelham Manor Police Department as well as a few of the police officers who served the Village and its citizens.  See, e.g.:  

Thu., Jan. 07, 2010:  Pelham Manor Police Establish Speed Traps on Shore Road in 1910 to Catch Those Traveling Faster than Fifteen Miles Per Hour.

Wed., May 04, 2005:  Philip Gargan, Chief of Police of Pelham Manor, New York.

Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes an article published in 1910 and provides the image that appeared with the article.  The article recounts the early years of the Pelham Manor Police Department and provides statistics for the first few years of the formal operation of the Department.

Pelham Manor Police Department in 1910.  Caption Reads:
"R.H. Marks, Chief of Police (sitting)
Left to Right -- John J. Flanagan, George Booth, Joseph Colgan,
John McGuire, A.D. Savage, Phil. Gargan, James Butler."
Source:  Pelham Manor Police Dept., The Pelham Sun 
[Pelham, NY], May 21, 1910, Vol. I, No. 7, cols. 4-6.

"Pelham Manor Police Dept.
Pelham Manor is one of the most progressive villages to be found anywhere.  Its citizens are justly proud of the Police Department, which for a small place is out of the ordinary in all details.  It is, in face, modeled after the most modern system in vogue in the largest cities, and in some respects contains improvements upon these in several important details.

The department was organized in August, 1905, when then President Frederick H. Allen appointed R.H. Marks chief of the force, consisting of three men.  At this time the so-called clock system was in use, but this was abolished and a police telephone system installed the following year during President Pond's term of office.  There are now all told fifteen telephone stations from which the officers report at stated intervals.

A regular headquarters was established in the old Fire Headquarters on a private street opposite Wetherbee Black's residence, and two more patrolmen were appointed in 1906.  

In 1907 Chief Marks and his men took possession of the comfortable headquarters in the new village hall.  Up-to-date fixings and accommodations for prisoners, as well as for members of the police force are features of this new home.  The main reason for organizing a compact police force was to be found in the fact that many burglaries had been committed among the well-to-do residents, and while of course cracksmen and thieves occasionally do appear at Pelham Manor, their number has been greatly decreased, and in most cases all offenders are caught by the ever-vigilant policemen.

The force is composed of the following men:  R.H. Marks, Chief of Police (appointed August, 1905); Patrolmen Joseph Colgan (appointed December, 1892), A.D. Savage (appointed October, 1906), Philip Gargan (appointed October, 1907), James A. Butler (appointed Octomber, 1907), and John J. Flanagan (appointed December, 1908).

The town policemen attached to the Pelham Manor headquarters are George Booth, who was made a policemen in December, 1909, and John McGuire, appointed April, 1910.

The number of arrests made since the organization of the department totals 982.  The offenses were varied, such as violations of the village ordinances, misdemeanors, and felonies.

As a result of these arrests, 143 prisoners were sent to the Kings County Penitentiary, their combined time of service being 372 months; 39 persons were sent to the County Jail at White Plains to serve a total of 880 days; one woman was sent to the Bedford Reformatory for a term of 3 years; two excise law violators were fined $200 each in the County Court; 6 prisoners were sent to Sing Sing State Prison for terms totaling 64 years.  Besides, several prisoners were turned over to other police departments.

The amount of fines imposed by the several Justices of the Peace and turned over to the Village Treasurer run into comparatively large figures:

1906. . . . . $251.60
1907. . . . .2,145.60
1908. . . . .1,638.27
1909. . . . . . 532.10

Total. . . . $4,567.57

The fees of the trial justices were deducted from these amounts, showing that the village of Pelham Manor took in pretty nearly $5,000 in fines during four years time.  The large amounts for 1907 and 1908 were derived mostly from heavy automobile speed fines, which were inflicted with a view of stopping the nuisance, and it has now been reduced to a minimum.

Chief Marks has charge of the Bureau of Licenses.  During the term stated above the sum of $227 was collected in fees for hackmen's licenses.

Of more important crimes, with which the police have had to deal, may be mentioned the case of Henry Thomas, who committed a daring burglary and was finally arrested ten days later in New York by Chief Marks and Officer Colgan.  Upon conviction in the County Court he was sentenced to serve four years in Sing Sing prison.

The case of Pual Miller, the 'mid-night burglar,' who was arrested for burglary in 1907, by Officers Savage, Lyons, Callahan and Chief Marks, ended in his being sent to serve 4 years and 9 months in State's prison.

Four Italians arrested in 1907 for grand larceny were also sentenced to terms in Sing Sing.

Upon a charge of grand larceny a woman named Tilly Fisher was sent to Bedford Reformatory for a three-year term.  

The burglary case, in which officer Savage was shot, was one of the most important the Manor police had to deal with.

One of the prisoners, William Snow, alias William Bender, was sent to Sing Sing for a term of 21 years and 6 months again, a charge of burglary and assault.  His pal, Wilson, got 14 years and 6 months on similar charges, and the third of the trio, Joseph White, alias Frank Costello, who was caught in New York by Chief Marks and Officer Butler, was also sentenced to State's prison for a term of 14 years and 6 months.

It will thus be seen that the usefulness of the department has been demonstrated and the residents of the Manor feel that their lives and property is [sic] well guarded by an efficient, ambitious, and wide-awake force."

Source:  Pelham Manor Police Dept., The Pelham Sun [Pelham, NY], May 21, 1910, Vol. I, No. 7, cols. 4-6.

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