Saturday, 18 March 2017

1886 - Hamilton's Police Force


In the morning edition of the Hamilton Spectator,  May 29, 1886, it was announced that annual inspection of the police force would be held that afternoon.

          Prompted by the inspection, the following day’s Spectator contained the following editorial on the state of the Hamilton Police Force in the spring of 1886:

“The annual inspection of the Hamilton police force was held yesterday. The appearance of the men comprising the force was quite satisfactory, and it is a satisfaction to know that in the matter of zeal and attention to duty they are worthy of all praise. The sergeants are intelligent and capable men who take much of the work of supervision from the chief, and the whole force has been so well-drilled and is so successfully handled by Mr. Stewart that it is in the very highest state of efficiency. The work of a good police force is felt in the absence of professional criminals from the city rather than in their frequent arrest. Prevention is much better than cure. The very best testimony to the efficiency of our force is found in the fact that Habitual criminals give Hamilton a wide berth.

“The force comprises 45 men all told, including the Chief. But several of the men are too old for ordinary duty. They are retained because they have done good service in times past and because light work can be found for them now. It would be most unjust to turn these old servitors out now that their best days are past. But it must not be forgotten that the really effective strength of the force is hardly so great as it appears on paper. The men are well-equipped, except that there are only 15 revolvers and twenty lanterns for the whole force. Each man should have a revolver and a lantern for the proper care of which he can be held responsible. The hours of service are eight daily; but in addition the men must attend at the police court when their testimony is needed; and all are required to hold themselves in readiness as at all times for emergent calls. Two-thirds of the roundsmen are on duty at night, and one-third in the daytime. The patrol wagon has proved a valuable addition to the police force as the roundsmen need not now leave their beats when arrests are made. Though the force is fully up to the strength usually considered desirable – one man to each 1,000 of the population – the chief thinks that as the city covers so considerable an area, he ought to have more men. Our knowledge of the situation does not enable us to express an opinion on that matter.

“The appearance of the men yesterday, the reports of their conduct on duty, and the freedom of the city from serious crime, warrant a belief that the police force of Hamilton is one which citizens have every reason to be satisfied.”1

1 “Hamilton’s Police Force.”

Hamilton Spectator. May 29, 1886





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