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City Document — No. 8. 





Police Officers and Watchmen 

T^A.-ST, 1858.. 




Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

Boston Public Library 

To the Police Officers and Night Watchmen of the 
City of Roxbury. 

Gentlemen : 

You have just received your respective appoint- 
ments for the current year, and have been duly qual- 
ified ; and I have thought it would not be inexpedi- 
ent or inappropriate on my part, at this particular 
time, to address to you some brief remarks, faintly 
sketching your various duties, and reminding you 
that the discharge of those duties with fidelity and 
zeal, is important to the peace of the city and the 
welfare of the inhabitants. 

You have been appointed Police Officers, or Night 
Watchmen, and are clothed with the authority of 
Constables. The object of your appointment is to 
secure the safety of the city ; to preserve the peace, 
and suppress disorders ; and it is expected that you 
will use the power with which you are clothed, on all 
occasions, to promote good order, to prevent crime 

and the violation of the laws ; and when crime is 
committed, to detect and secure offenders and bring 
them to justice. 

You will act under the immediate orders of the 
City Marshal, who will receive his instructions from 
the Mayor and Aldermen. You will give close 
attention to his directions ; confer with him in all 
doubtful cases ; listen to his suggestions, and faithful- 
ly execute his orders. Any departure from his di- 
rections, or delay or negligence in executing them, will 
be regarded as a breach of discipline. 

As our City increases in population, and our streets 
are thronged with travellers and passers-by, it becomes 
every year more important that the Ordinances should 
be strictly enforced. This is required for the public 
good. Irregular proceedings that might have been 
winked at or overlooked without much impropriety 
five years ago, may now be regarded as serious offences 
against peace, order or propriety, and call for the in- 
terference of the Police. 

It will be your province to report each day to the 
City Marshal, to be entered on the record, every 
arrest made by each officer, with the circumstances 
attending it ; the names of all suspicious persons, and 
all suspicious places ; all shops, or other places of re- 
sort, kept open at a late hour in the night ; all dis- 
orderly places, gaming houses, and tippling shops, or 

those which arc reputed such, with the reasons for 
such repute ; all disturbances of the peace, violation 
of the Sunday law, cases of drunkenness, or any other 
information which may aid hi preserving the peace 
and safety of the City. 

It will be your duty to arrest all persons detected 
by you while in the act of committing crime, and all 
persons, whom you have good reason to believe have 
committed crime, and are attempting to escape ; all 
persons guilty of gross Sabbath-breaking ; of disturb- 
ing religious or other assemblies met for moral or be- 
nevolent objects ; all who are guilty of a breach of the 
peace, assaults, fighting, disorderly or violent conduct, 
of breaking windows, lamps, or of other malicious in- 
juries to property or persons ; all night-walkers, and 
drunkards found in the streets ; persons stealing swill, 
vagrants and vagabonds ; and all persons guilty of re- 
sistance or abuse to officers or magistrates in the per- 
formance of the duties of their office ; all persons who 
assemble in groups on the sidewalks, obstructing the 
passage and insulting the passers-by ; and all who be- 
ing unlawfully and riotously assembled, refuse to dis- 
perse after proclamation made. 

You will particularly direct your attention to the 
early discovery of fires and the immediate raising the 
alarm for the same ; to the detection of burglars, in- 
cendiaries and other crimes ; to noting violations of 

the City Ordinances and the laws of the State. In a 
word, you will be unremitting in your endeavors to 
preserve the peace and safety of the City, and protect 
the inhabitants from those annoyances, depredations, 
and other evils, incident to a dense population, which 
always furnishes facilities for crime. 

If you should require aid at any critical time in the 
execution of your duties, recollect that you have power 
to command any person or persons to assist you in 
such an emergency ; and any person refusing such as- 
sistance when duly required, is liable to prosecution 
and a penalty. 

Vagrants, and those who are found intoxicated in 
the streets, suffering and helpless but peaceable and 
inoffensive ; persons who are destitute, and those whose 
offences are slight, may be placed in the lock-up any 
time during the night, and retained until morning, 
when they will be discharged, or sent up to the Police 
Court for trial, according to the nature of the case, 
and at the discretion of the City Marshal. But none 
are to be discharged without his direction. 

It may sometimes happen that persons are discov- 
ered in the streets, overcome by sudden illness, and 
deprived of their recollection as well as the use of their 
limbs. Such cases, by a discriminating observer, can 
always be distinguished from cases of drunkenness ; 
and it is hardly necessary to state that it is the duty 

of an officer to interfere promptly under such circum- 
stances, minister to their aid, and ascertain the homes 
or friends of persons so afflicted. 

There are some offences and violations of the City 
Ordinances, of a character, arising from indiscretion 
or ignorance, when a notification or an admonition 
from an officer will produce a salutary effect, and pre- 
vent a repetition of the offence. It will therefore be 
Well to admonish all persons who ignorantly and un- 
wittingly violate the City Ordinances, or laws of the 
State, and particularly those laws and regulations 
which forbid the discharge of fire arms ; the firing of 
squibs, crackers or other fireworks ; the shooting of 
birds ; placing obstructions in the streets or on the 
sidewalks ; fast driving through the streets ; leaving 
horses or vehicles on cross walks, or fastening horses 
to shade trees, injuring trees, lamps, buildings or 
fences ; throwing filth or impure water into the street ; 
digging up the street or sidewalk without permission ; 
blasting rocks without permission ; leaving coal or 
fuel in the street or on the sidewalks at night ; throw- 
ing rubbish in the gutters ; kindling bonfires in the 
open air, and making noises by outcries, singing or 
otherwise. And whenever you find that your admoni- 
tions are disregarded, you will enter a complaint for 
repetitions of the offence, and try what virtue there is 
in the penalty. 

In cases of breach of the peace, fights and riots, you 
will, as I have already said, lose no time in making 
attempts to quell the disturbance, by commanding the 
parties to keep the peace, and arresting them if they 
refuse to obey. If resisted in the execution of your 
duties, call upon the by-standers for assistance if ne- 
cessary, and if peace cannot be restored, or the offenders 
arrested on the spot, carefully observe their appear- 
ance and conduct, ascertain their names and residence 
if possible, and other circumstances, so that you can 
identify them if so called upon to do in a Court of 
Justice, and testify against their offences ; but as soon 
as practicable rally a force sufficient to arrest them 
and bring them to trial. 

When any fires occur in the City, by night or by 
day, threatening loss of property, it is the duty of all 
the Police Officers, not on regular duty, to hasten as 
soon as possible to the scene of action, report them- 
selves to the Engineer in command, and under his 
direction, and with the assistance of the Officers in 
whose district or beat the fire may occur, render 
all possible aid in preserving order, repressing riotous 
demonstrations, and guarding any property which may 
be saved from the destructive element. 

It is important to the peace of the City and the wel- 
fare of all good citizens, that any loud noises or dis- 
turbances in the night time, and particularly any un- 

necessary discharge of fire-arms of any description, and 
especially of field-pieces, without especial permission, 
should be promptly checked, and the reckless offenders, 
who have so little respect for the regulations of our 
City, and the quiet of the inhabitants, should be arrest- 
ed, and brought to justice. 

You will be particular to look closely after all per- 
sons of equivocal character, or suspicious strangers ; 
watch them, and learn their associates, their haunts 
and places of resort ; ascertain their names and places 
of residence, and ostensible occupations, and be pre- 
pared to pursue, detect and arrest them, when in the 
commission of crime, and to testify to their identity, 
their presence, or connection with the crimes of others ; 
and regularly report to the City Marshal all suspicious 
circumstances connected with their appearance and 

Among the pests in a populous community, is a 
class known as receivers of stolen goods, who under 
the guise of dealers in miscellanous articles, encourage 
theft, robbery and crime, of almost every description. 
There is reason to believe that this class has multi- 
plied in this and the neighboring cities within a few 
years, and their nefarious business carried on under 
plausible cover, is reduced to a sort of a system. It 
will be one of the duties of the Police to watch narrow- 
ly all such sinks of iniquity, and keep a strict eye 


on the owners or agents, or all persons in any 
way connected with them ; and whenever a suffi- 
cient pretence offers, the premises should be strict- 
ly searched, which is often the means of detecting 
perpetrators of crime, who have long evaded the pun- 
ishment they deserved: 

In discharging his various and responsible duties, 
every person connected with the police department 
should maintain a firm, considerate, decided manner, 
avoiding all altercation, irritation, or exhibition of 
temper, simply stating the law and his duty in as few 
words as possible, and calmly but firmly requiring 
obedience to the law. He should perform all his 
duties with a due regard to the proprieties of life and 
the usages of society. In all cases notice should be 
given of the authority under which he acts, and under 
no circumstances should he allow resistance to lawful 
authority to go unpunished. 

The conduct of a member of the Police Department 
should be exemplary in all things. He himself should 
strictly obey those laws, the infraction of which he is 
bound to punish in others. He should be vigilant 
and observing, prompt in action and energetic in his 
proceedings, and although the outline of his duties 
may be marked out, much must, of course, be left to 
his discretion ; and although it may sometimes appear 
arbitrary, and be unnecessary, to insist upon the strict 


execution of the law, yet cases often occur when he 
would be justified in going to the full extent of his 
legal responsibility, and enforcing the laws to the 
very letter. 

He should be careful to avoid gossip ; listen and 
observe every thing ; know all that is going on, but 
be cautious in communicating that knowledge to 
others. And while it is presumed that in common 
with every good citizen, he will cherish definite opinions 
in relation to the political questions of the day, it is 
not expected that he will enter into warm political 
discussions, be the mouthpiece of a party, or enact the 
part of a demagogue. 

A Police Officer or a Night Watchman in a City 
like Roxbury, with a numerous population, in the 
very neighborhood of the metropolis, and with but 
few preservers of the peace, will find his business, if 
properly attended to, no sinecure. He will have 
enough to do in perambulating the streets, preventing 
violations of the law, and executing his various duties. 
He should at all times remember that in his care, 
judgment, sagacity and vigilance, are reposed a 
weighty and important trust, the peace and quiet of 
the City, protection of the property and persons of 
the citizens, by day and by night. 

I have thus, gentlemen, endeavored to give you a 
short sketch of the various duties which you are call- 


ed upon to perform, and which you are bound to per- 
form to the best of your ability, and in conformity 
with your oath of office. It will be seen from what 
I have stated, that the duties of a Police Officer or 
Night Watchman or Constable, are manifold and re- 
sponsible, requiring qualifications not found in every 
man. And no one should enter upon the duties un- 
less he is confident in his ability to execute them 
faithfully, and determined to do it. And you may be 
assured that in the strict and vigilant performance of 
your various duties, you will receive the approval, 
sanction and support of the Board of Aldermen, and 
the thanks of every friend of good order, of every 
honest citizen.