Skip to main content

Full text of "[City documents, 1847-1867]"

See other formats

if J. J .'V C. 

City Document — JVo. 24. 


FOE 1855. 




In Boakd of Aldermen, Dec. 31, 1855. 

Ordered, That one thousand copies of the Report of the City Mar- 
shal be printed for the use of the Citizens. 

JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk. 


To the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Roxhury : 

G-ENTLEMEN, — As the year is now fast drawing to a close, 
I submit to your Hon. Board a somewhat general report 
of the Police Department for the time during which I have 
held the office of City Marshal. 

The whole amount of money received by me for the city 
of Roxbury, on account of Fees of Police Officers and for 
Fines, up to this date, is as follows, viz. : 

For fees of Police Officers, $942.72 

■" fines for violation of City Ordinances, . . . 43.01 

" " " Bird Law, .... 12.00 

Total, .... $997.73 

The whole amount of money paid out by me on account of 
Police Department, for conveyance of persons to prison, 
assistance in securing and arresting prisoners, &c., up to 
this date, is : $119.32 

Which deducted from the whole sum received by me, leaves 

a balance in favor of the City of 878.41 


Which balance I have paid over to Joseph W. Dudley, City Treas- 
urer, as follows, viz : 

June 11th, . . . $132.36 

Sept. 5th, . . . 150.00 

Nov. 1st, . . . 200.00 

" 19th, . . . 230.00 

Dec. 3l8t, . . . 166.05 



It is made a part of my duty as Marshal to collect and 
pay over to the City Treasurer all moneys accruing in the 
shape of fines for violations of City Ordinances, which I 
have done, as well as all fines arising from complaints made 
by me for violation of the Bird Law, as by the provisions 
of the law itself all fines arising therefrom shall go to the 
prosecutor thereof. 

The fines received by me are not reckoned in the amount 
of Police fees. 

The balance of Police fees paid to me up to this date, after 

deducting the amount paid out by me, is . . $823.40 

The amount of Police fees now due the City, up to this date, 

not yet paid over to me, as far as I can now ascertain, is 292.15 

Which added to the balance of Police fees, will make the 
sum total for fees, since the third of last April, of . $1,115.55 

The whole number of arrests since the first of April 
last, is 506 ; and for the following offences, viz. : 

Drunkenness, 214. Assault, 76. Disturbing the Peace, 
36. Larceny, 37. Stealing Fruit, 19. Violation of City 
Ordinances, 20. Violation of Liquor Law, 18. Violation 
of Bird Law, 13. Vagrancy, 12. Burglary, 9. Tres- 
pass, 6. Breaking Street Lamps, 5. Suspicious persons, 
5. Lewdness, 3. Playing cards, 3. Begging, 3. Carry- 
ing loaded Pistol, 2. Pitching coppers on Sunday, 2. Ma- 
licious mischief, 2. Setting fire, 2. Firing crackers, 2. 
Stubborn children, 2. Attempting to pass bad money, 2. 
Violation of Sunday Law, 2. Violation of Billiard Law, 
1. Stealing a ride, 1. Playing at ball on Sunday, 1. 
Crazy, 1. Fast driving, 1. Embezzling money, 1. Ob- 
taining Goods by false pretences, 1. Bastard warrant, 1. 
Indecent exposure, 1. Raising a false alarm of Fire, 1. 
Obtaining Board by false pretences, 1. 

As far as 1 have been able to ascertain, out of the whole 
number of arrests but 59 were born in this country; and 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 24. 5 

of these a large proportion were the children of foreigners ; 
and out of the remaining, but 18 were born in Eoxbury. 

• It "will readily be seen where mo&t of the business of the 
Police Department is derived from. 

Intemperance and the foreign population furnish nearly 
all of it. 

There is growing up in the community a class of Boys 
and Girls, the children of foreign parents chiefly. They 
do not attend school, and have no regular or useful occu- 
pation, but are being trained in vice and crime ; and from 
this class nearly all the cases of Burglary and Larceny are 

Intemperance will always be a fruitful source of crime, 
wherever it exists ; and the City of Eoxbury is not exempt 
from its curse, or its sources. 

The liquor traffic has not yet ceased in Roxbury, though 
it may seem an easy matter to some to put a stop to it ; 
but such should recollect that it is one thing to say a per- 
son sells liquor contrary to law, and quite another to pro- 
duce the legal evidence of the fact before a Court of Jus- 

The liquor drank now-a-days has such a curious effect 
upon the minds of some of those persons who drink it, that 
when they are called upon to testify, their memories of 
certain facts seem to be all gone, or so wonderfully obli- 
vious that they cannot tell whether they have drank milk 
or Gin, Spirits of Turpentine or Brandy. 

Nearly all the persons arrested for drunkenness, when 
questioned, say that they procured their liquor in Boston, 
or had it given them by friends ; so not much can be made 
out of disclosures ; and, at any rate, the evidence of drunk- 
ards is not much to be relied upon in procuring convictions. 

I have had to rely principally upon the efforts of the Po- 
lice in procuring evidence ; and they say that liquor is sold 
in so sly a manner, and in such dark corners, they cannot 
get hold of any legal evidence themspl^'^^' 


I determined that if the rum-shops could not be shut 
up, some of their customers should be. 

Accordingly, the Police have had special instructions to 
arrest every person found by them drunk in the Streets or 
public places, and commit such to the Lock-up, there to 
remain until sober, and then trie"^d for drunkenness. 

What effect such a course has had, I will not pretend to 
say. I will only state the fact, that, for the nine months 
last year ending the last day of December, the whole num- 
ber of arrests for drunkenness was 291; while for the 
same time this year the number is 214; being 77 less this 
year for the same time than last : from which the citizens 
must draw their own conclusions. 

It has been made a part of the duty of the Police to act 
as "Truant Of&cers." 

Accordingly, all truants and absentees from school have 
been looked after as well as circumstances would admit — 
all cases being attended to as soon as possible after receiving 
notice from the several teachers in whose schools such 
cases existed. I believe the Police have endeavored to do 
their duty in this respect ; and I leave it for the teachers 
themselves to say how far they think truancy has been pre- 
vented by their efforts. 

Fruit Pilferers have not been so plenty in Roxbury this 
season as last. 

Although the Sunday Police were doubled in numbers 
this year, and went on duty earlier in the season, yet more 
persons were arrested last year for stealing Fruit than on 
this; a fact going to show the good effects of having a 
Sunday Police to look after the outskirts of the City. 

It may well be supposed that the knowledge of the vigi- 
lance and activity, as well as increased numbers of the Sun- 
day Police, caused many of these fruit pilferers to shun the 
City of Roxbury, as a place where many favors w;ould not 
be shown them, if caught in the act of stealing Fruit from 
any Garden or Orchard. 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 24. 7 

The new " Bird Law," I believe, lias been pretty effectu- 
ally enforced in this City during the past season. 

The excitement of last Spring, in consequence of quite 
a number of Burglaries being committed within a short 
space of time, has subsided ; and the stupid fellow who 
committed quite a number of them, was caught by means 
of his own stupidity, and is now safe in prison. 

Some few other Burglars have been caught, by the efforts 
of the Police, and are not now at large. 

Also, several cases of Larceny have been detected, and 
the perpetrators properly disposed of; as well as some 
minor offences against the City Ordinances, &c. 

At the present time the City of Roxbury is believed to 
be in a quiet and peaceable state. 

The Police Court of Roxbury has been in operation 
since the tenth of May last, and in my humble opinion has 
met, and will continue to meet, the expectations of that 
portion of the citizens who wish to see an uniform admin- 
istration of justice, where trials can be conducted in a 
proper manner, fairly and impartially, the Court held at 
regular hours, and the Justice who presides receiving a 
fixed compensation, in nowise dependant upon the number 
of cases brought before him. 

As far as my observation has been able to extend, the 
Police Court of Roxbury, thus far, has been a successful 

The idle and the dissolute do not congregate around the 
Court Room, for they receive no encouragement and find 
no sympathy there. 

The "baneful influences of a Police Court," heretofore, 
predicted, have not as yet been fastened upon us^ 

The Police Department is an important affair in any 
City or Town where its organization is called for. 
The duties of a Policeman are arduous, and oftentimss 


very unpleasant ; lie lias to deal with all sorts of persons, 
and there are those who are always ready to find fault 
with and to censure him, either for doing or not doing, 
just as the case may seem to suit the purposes of these 

A Police Officer should he a man of strict integrity, one 
who will do his duty in a fearless, independent and humane 
manner, one who on all occasions will scorn a bribe, wheth- 
er offered in the shape of money, monied influence, or the 
popular favor. He should go about his duty in a quiet 
way, laboring as well to prevent the commission of offen- 
ces, as to catch the offender after he has committed the 

He should be willing at all times to impart information 
where it is his duty so to do, and never attempting to make 
the execution of a law or an order odious or difficult in any 
way or manner. He does not always wait to be told what 
to do, but is ever active, and always laboring for the 
welfare of the community as his primary object. In short, 
he should be a man of moral, as well as physical courage, 
active, intelligent and humane. 

Low cunning, roguish shrewdness, or a previous acquain- 
tance and fellowship with rogues themselves, are not nec- 
essary qualifications for a Policeman. 

There is no good reason why the office of a Policeman 
should not be considered as honorable a position as that 
of any Public Officer whatever. 

The right kind of men should be selected, and they should 
be made to feel that the community appreciate their servi- 
ces and are willing to pay them liberally for them. 

And also they should be surrounded with good influences, 
and act under an honorable Police system ; and this leads 
me to say a few words about the Fee system, which was 
abolished in April last. 

I am well convinced that the old fee system was calcu- 
lated to corrupt and deprave those who acted under it. 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 24. 9 

It lield out inducements to make such arrests as should 
promise the greatest amount of fees, with the least trouble 
to the officer, and also to let those offenders go unpunished 
in whose cases the. fees did not promise to pay. 

Its tendency was to lower the officer in his own estima- 
tion, and also that of the public, by having it constantly 
thrown in his face, when he made an arrest, that his pro- 
spective fee was the paramount object ; and I am some- 
what of the opinion that such a charge has not been 
altogether without some foundation, from the recent decla- 
rations and conduct of individuals, not now members of 
the Police department. 

While the honorable and high-minded officer would scorn 
to make an arrest for any other object than that of the 
faithful performance of his duty, yet his feelings and repu- 
tation are made to suffer, while he is to derive a part of 
his compensation for his services from the fees accruing 
from the arrests he makes. 

And here let me say that, as far as I can observe, noth- 
ing could be more repugnant to the feelings of the high- 
minded men who belong to the present Police department, 
than the restoration of the old fee system. 

It gives me great pleasure to say, that I believe that 
there are belonging to the present Police department of 
Roxbury, as faithful and efficient officers, and as high-minded 
and honorable men, as can be found in any city or town 
where a Police force exists, notwithstanding the efforts of 
the short-sighted, the disaffected and the malicious to bring 
discredit upon the Police department. 

And it will also give me pleasure, on all proper occa- 
sions, to commend each one individually, in such terms as 
his faithfulness and efficiency in the performance of his 
duty, and the prompt and willing manner in which he has 
aided and assisted me to perform mine, and make my task 
as easy as possible, shall justly merit. 

In the performance of my duty as City Marshal, I have 


not confined mv attention to any particular locality ; but 
have endeavored to look after all parts of the City, and to 
act impartially, courting no favors and fearing no frowns. 

Having in view the enforcement of the laws, in such a 
manner as should best promote their true object in secur- 
ing the welfare of the community, willing at all times to 
carry out your directions, and feeling that when I could 
not conscientiously do so, the only honorable course for me 
would be to resign my ofi&ce at once. 

Gi-entlemen, my official connection with you is now draw- 
ing to a close ; and permit me to thank you for the confi- 
dence which you have reposed in me by placing me in the 
ofi&ce which I now hold, an appointment which you can each 
one bear witness was not made in accordance with any 
promise from you, either collectively or individually. 

How far I have merited your confidence, it is not for me 
to say. I can only say that, with the aid derived from my 
Assistants, I have endeavored to perform my duty in a con- 
scientious manner, according to the best of my ability ; — 
and I beg of you that, whatever errors you may think I 
have committed, you will attribute to the head, and not to 
the heart. 

Yery Respectfully, 

BENJ. MERIAM, City Marshal 
Roxbury, Dec. Blst, 1855.