Boston Police Department

Infobox Law enforcement agency
agencyname = Boston Police Department
abbreviation = BPD
patch = Boston Police patch.jpg
motto =
established = 1854
country = United States
countryabbr = USA
divtype = State
divname = Massachusetts
divdab =
subdivtype = City
subdivname = Boston
subdivdab =
jurisdiction = Municipal
sworntype = Officer
sworn = 2,015
non-sworn = 808
electeetype = Commissioner
minister1name = Edward Davis
minister1pfo =
chief1name = Robert Dunford
chief1position =
stations = 11
jails =
helicopters =
policeboats = Yes (Harbor Patrol & Dive Team Divisions)
The Boston Police Department (BPD) has the primary responsibility for law enforcement and investigation within the city of Boston, Massachusetts. It is the 20th largest department in the United States and is one of the oldest.


The first night watch was established in Boston in 1631 with an officer and six men. By 1635 the watch consisted of property owning males over 16 who were required to take turns at the duty without pay. In 1703 pay in the sum of 35 shillings a month was set. In 1796, the Watch was reorganized and the watchmen carried a badge of office, a rattle, and a six-foot pole, which was painted blue and white with a hook on one end and a bill on the other. The hook was used to grab fleeing criminals, and the rounded “bill” was used as a weapon. The rattle was a noise-making device used for calling for assistance.

In 1838 the Day Police was organized, having no connection with the Night Watch. The Day Police operated under the city marshal and had six appointed officers. In 1853, the Harbor Police was created in response to the increase in robberies of occupied vessels in the waters of Boston Harbor. They were furnished with rowboats and armed with Colt revolvers. This was the first unit furnished with firearms.

The Boston Police Department was formally founded in May 1854, at which point the Boston Watch and Day Police were disbanded, and the Boston Police department came into being. The old hook and bill, which had been in use for one hundred and fifty-four years, was replaced by a fourteen-inch club.

At the time of its founding, the Boston Police constituted the first paid, professional police service in the United States, but its roots can be even further traced back to the 18th century and Boston's appointment of an "Inspector of Police." In 1854, the department was closely organized and modeled after Sir Robert Peel's (London) Metropolitan Police Service.

In 1871 Boston Police Relief Association was founded.

1919 police strike

On September 9 1919, the Boston Police went on strike, signaling a dramatic shift in traditional labor relations and views on the part of the police, who were unhappy with stagnant wages and poor working conditions. When Police Commissioner Edwin Upton Curtis refused to allow the creation of a police union, 1,117 BPD officers went on strike. The city soon fell into riots and public chaos as over three-fourths of the department was no longer enforcing public peace. Governor Calvin Coolidge intervened to quash further chaos. Coolidge announced that the police did not have the right to strike against the public safety and brought in the state national guard to restore order to Boston. The strike was broken, permanently, when Coolidge hired replacement police officers, many of whom were returning servicemen from World War I, and the former officers were refused re-entry into the department. Ironically, the new officers hired in the wake of the strike received higher salaries, more vacation days and city-provided uniforms, the very demands the original strikers were requesting. The BPD strike set a precedent for further movements to stymie police unionization around the country.

Coolidge's intervention in the strike brought him national fame which, in turn, led to his nomination as Harding's running mate for Vice-President in the 1920 presidential election.

First Boston Police Officer Killed in the Line of Duty

On October 18, 1857 about 5:15 AM Boston Police Officer Ezekiel W. Hodsdon was doing his duty for the Boston Police Dept walking his beat on the Corner of Havre and Maverick Street in East Boston. Officer Hodsdon was attempting to arrest two suspects for a burglary, a struggle ensued and one of the suspects was able to get behind Officer Hodson and shoot him in the head. Officer Hodsdon died about 10AM, becoming the first Boston police officer killed in the line of duty at 25 years of age. The murderers then ran away. The citizen of East Boston were talking of a Lynch Law. Thousands of people vistied the station house during the forenoon, and were admitted, twenty or thirty at a time-men, women and children, to view the body of the deceased officer. The scene was one which will make a lasting impression upon the minds of the visitors (quoted from the Newspapers on Oct 18, 1857) Officer Hodsdon left his wife Lydia and infant son Eekiel who was born just 13 days prior to his death. Police Officers were not armed and carried a Rattle and Billy. Officer Hodsdon was buried in Woodlawn in Everett.

1863 first Police Department to be issued Pistols

Busing callout

In 1974, the BPD was involved in maintaining order during the public disturbance over court-ordered busing to racially-integrate Boston's public school system. Unrest was particularly focused around schools, requiring the BPD to increase patrols and maintain readiness for much of the mid-1970s.


On August 23, 1995 the BPD became the first police agency in the world to send fingerprint images to the FBI electronically. The first set of fingerprints were for a suspect arrested for armed robbery. Within hours of the receipt of the fingerprints, the FBI determined that the suspect had a number of prior arrests, including one for assault with intent to kill. [ [ Chapter II Supporting Law Enforcement in the Community ] ]


On December 31, 2006, 31 Boston Municipal Police Officers were merged with the Boston Police. On January 1, 2007, the rest of the Muni's were either laid off or transferred to the city's Municipal Protective Services, which provides security to the city's Property Management Department.

The merger was planned in mid-2006 by Mayor Thomas M. Menino. It was met with heavy protest from the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association. The BPPA's argument was that the Municipal officers were not qualified to be Boston police officers due to lack of training, political patronage, nepotism and the fact that the Muni's were not civil service tested. [According to Pat Rose. [ 37 Boston Municipal Officers don't qualify for merger] ]

2006 corruption case

In summer 2006, the department was rocked with scandal when officers Robert Pulido, Carlos Pizaro and Nelson Carrasquillo were arrested in Miami, Florida and charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Pulido was also charged with hosting parties at which other BPD officers fraternized with drug dealers.Fact|date=May 2007 ["Boston Globe", July 22, 2006.]

The scandal came at a particularly bad time for the BPD, as Boston's homicide rate had increased drastically in 2006. The majority of these murders remain unsolved, a fact that many community leaders attribute to a lack of trust between the city's police and its residents.

2007 Mooninite Scare

The January 31, 2007 Boston bomb scare (Boston advertising security scare, Aqua-Gate or Boston Mooninite ad scare) occurred when 911 callers mistakenly identified small electronic promotions found throughout Boston and the surrounding cities of Cambridge and Somerville as possible explosives. Upon investigation by Boston Police and other agencies cite news | author = Smalley, Suzanne | coauthors = Mishra, Raja | title = Froth, fear, and fury | url = | work = The Boston Globe | publisher = The New York Times Company | date = 2007-02-01 | accessdate = 2007-02-02] the suspicious devices turned out to be battery-powered LED placards with an image of a cartoon character called a "mooninite" used in a guerrilla marketing campaign for "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters", a film based on the animated television series "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" ("ATHF") on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim late-night programming block.

The BPD's handling of this incident has been criticized by Boston residents: "We all thought it was pretty funny," said one student. "The majority of us recognize the difference between a bomb and a Lite-Brite," said another. [ [ Blown out of proportion - Framingham, MA - The MetroWest Daily News ] ] One resident said that the police response was "silly and insane", and that "We’re the laughing stock". [ [ Young Bostonians think city overreacted - Security - ] ]

BPD today

The Boston Police Department currently has approximately 2,015 officers and 808 civilian personnel, with patrol services covering an area of 89.6 mi² (232.1 km²) and a population of 589,141. The BPD currently requires all employed officers hired since 1995 to live within Boston city-limits, and this has led to calls for pay raises to help officers meet the city's high cost of living. The BPD currently is divided into three zones and 11 neighborhood districts spread across the city, with each zone supervised by a Deputy Superintendent and every district headed by a Captain.

The Boston Police Department is organized into bureaus under the Office of the Police Commissioner. The Chief of Staff, media liaisons and the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) also operate out of the Commissioner's office.

The Bureau of Field Services (BFS) consists of the zone commands and police districts, the Special Operations Unit and Youth Violence Strike Force (gang unit). It is the largest bureau and its main responsibility is tactical patrol and crime prevention. Superintendent Daniel Linskey is the current commander of BFS.

The Bureau of Investigative Services (BIS) consists of the Homicide Unit, Drug Control Unit, Family Justice Center and Forensic Science Division. Superintendent Bruce Holloway is the current head of the BIS.

Other bureaus include the Bureau of Administrative Services, led by a civilian, Christopher Fox, and the Bureau of Professional Standards and Development, which encompasses the Training and Education Division, Internal Affairs and Anti-Corruption, headed by Superintendent Kenneth Fong.

The Boston Police rank structure is as follows:

*Police Officer/Detective
**Detective is not a rank but a rating bestowed upon the patrolman after passing a written test and the newly established Career Review Board.
*Sergeant/Sergeant Detective
**Certain jobs within the department are designated as Detective Supervisor jobs (District Det. Supervisor, Sexual Assault Unit, Domestic Violence, etc.), thus, Detective Supervisors earn their "rating" after serving a certain amount of time in said role.
*Lieutenant/Lieutenant Detective
**Certain jobs within the department are designated as Detective Supervisor jobs (District Det. Supervisor, Sexual Assault Unit, Domestic Violence, etc.), thus, Detective Supervisors earn their "rating" after serving a certain amount of time in said role.
*Captain/Captain Detective
**Certain jobs within the department are designated as Detective Supervisor jobs (District Det. Supervisor, Sexual Assault Unit, Domestic Violence, etc.), thus, Detective Supervisors earn their "rating" after serving a certain amount of time in said role.
*Deputy Superintendent
*Superintendent In Chief (This position is not always utilized)
*Commissioner (civilian)

Deputy Superintendents and above serve at the pleasure of the Police Commissioner and in the case of the Commissioner, the Mayor.

The current Superintendent In Chief is Robert Dunford, a career BPD officer.

Boston's former Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole was the first woman to serve in that position, until she resigned from her commissionership on June 30 2006 to take a new position as Inspector General of the Irish national police force, Garda Siochána. Upon her departure, Albert Goslin was appointed acting commissioner.

The current Boston Police Commissioner is Edward Davis, who was Chief of Police in Lowell, Massachusetts prior to this appointment. Davis was known in Lowell for his effective Community Policing efforts, andhis appointment to the Boston Police Department brought in a renewed era of policing in the city of Boston.

Community Policing

In the 1990s the Police Department resurrected an old idea, the Walk & Talk strategy. Police Officers assigned to patrol cars are required to walk a particular area for up to 45 minutes or longer per their tour of duty. The establishment of other initiatives like "Same Cop Same Neighborhood" and "Safe Street Beat Teams" have contributed widely to the continued success of community policing. These types of direct patrol are used even more widely today under the leadership of Police Commissioner Davis. Under his command Police Officers that are even assigned normally to administrative duties or Patrol Supervisors are encouraged to perform a foot patrol. This type of patrol assignment is referred to as a Code 19.

With the renewed emphasis on placing the Police Officer back in the community through the use of foot patrols and other community related police initiatives the city of Boston saw a drastic decline in part one crimes and other crimes. The community policing philosophy that the Boston Police so well integrated into its daily operation is now used across the city and the nation.

Sections of Boston,such as Allston had an established walking and bicycle patrol in the late 90's and continued this type of patrol indefinitely. It was eventually expanded to all three patrol shifts. Other areas of Allston and Boston also received similar patrols with the establishment of the newer initiatives such as Beat Teams. Each part of the city assigned one or more Police Officers to these areas as dedicated foot or bicycle patrol officers.On Harvard Avenue the department's effort to keep the same Police Officer in the same neighborhood paid off tremenduously. One aspect of Community Policing program is for the Police Officers on patrol to come up with new and effective ways to resolve concerns or problems in their area. By keeping the same Police Officer in the same neighborhood the department allowed creative problem solving methods, same officer recognition in neighborhoods and a greater commitment by Police Officers. As a result of this effective manner of police patrol-- public drinking, loitering and homelessness is no longer an acceptable social behavior at those specific locations of concern. Local social services are commonly called upon to assist where necessary and the hard line approach of "Arrest and Forget" was nolonger a common practice. The end result are fewer 9-1-1 call and fewer citizen complaints. Still other problems still exist or may arise and it is imperative for walking patrol officers to immediately recognize and deter future destructive behaviors.


By Sex:
*Male: 87%
*Female: 13%

By Race:

*White: 68%
*African-American/Black: 24%
*Hispanic: 6%
*Asian: 2% [ [ Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics, 2000: Data for Individual State and Local Agencies with 100 or More Officers] ]

ee also

*List of law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts


*Francis Russell. [ "A City in Terror: Calvin Coolidge and the 1919 Boston Police Strike"] (Boston: Beacon Press, 1975).

External links

* [ Boston Police Department official web site]
* [ Boston Police Department blog,]
* [ Boston Globe Article on the Merger]

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