No one was guarding the frozen gates in the cold February of 1690 when a raiding party of French and Indian mercenaries from the north massacred the early settlers of Schenectady as they slept. But in the spirit of Symon Schermerhorn, Adam Vrooman, Alexander Glen, and those who rallied against the invaders in that Dorp of old, today's call to arms for our public safety is taken up by the dedicated and professional members of our Schenectady Police Department.
The current police department shoulder patch reflects that heritage. The foreground of the patch depicts the statue of Lawrence the Indian which stands at the convergence of North Ferry, Green and Front Streets in the Stockade area of the city. Lawrence, a Christian Mohawk and friend of the settlers, lead an expedition to rescue those kidnapped in the attack. He later convinced the survivors to return and helped rebuild the settlement. The background shows the assault on and burning of the stockade fort on the banks of the Mohawk River as it happened that night.
The Schenectady Police Department employs approximately 170 sworn officers, making it the seventh largest police department in New York State. From its humble beginnings it has grown and evolved along with the city, responding to its changing needs, reflecting its diversity and meeting the demands of the community it serves.
In the 1700s, the need for public safety was met by employing night watchmen -- a foot patrol to walk the streets during the night hours carrying a six-foot staff and oil lantern. Their main duties were to watch for fires or any other potential disturbances.
In the 1800s, night watchmen were replaced with constables elected by the city council. Three constables were elected to each ward within the city, with one high constable acting much like today's chief of police. Constables wore no uniforms and were compensated solely from the collection of fees received from serving legal notices. Schenectady's first police headquarters might logically be said to have been a room rented by High Constable Roswell Perry in 1833 in a building which was the former rectory of St. George's Episcopal Church.
In 1867, the NYS Legislature created the Capital Police Force to uphold the law in the cities of Schenectady, Albany and Troy, with commissioners appointed by the governor having jurisdiction over the force. This was the first uniformed police force in the city, and was under the supervision of Chief Daniel J. Caw. The Schenectady precinct was headquartered on Wall Street near State Street until 1870 when the State Legislature gave the city of Schenectady permission to form its own police department.
On June 15, 1870, the Schenectady Police Department was officially created. It consisted of a chief of police, an assistant chief and eight patrolmen who patrolled the lamp district and also responded to calls throughout the county. These officers worked twelve hours a day with one day off per month, and enforced the law by walking foot patrol on their assigned beats. The policeman's uniform of the day was a woolen knee-length blue coat with high collar and two long rows of brass buttons. These coats were required wear even on the hottest of days while on patrol, along with a Keystone Cop or Bobby style helmet. An original uniform and equipment of the period is on display in the lobby of the Schenectady Police Department on a mannequin also sporting the handlebar mustache and mutton chop sideburns which were fashionable at the time.
One of the original officers of the department and one who is hailed by many as the Father of the Schenectady Police Department, Chief William L. Campbell, moved the department into a newly built City Hall in 1880, with horse barns behind it where police horses and equipment were kept. James W. Rynex, who later became chief from 1904-1925, was the first patrolman to ride a horse on his rounds. Horse drawn patrol wagons and the two-horse hitch "Black Maria" were later used. Around this time, officers were only able to communicate with headquarters by means of a call box that sent signals identifying the whereabouts of each officer.
At the start of the twentieth century, the police department introduced a four-precinct system that lasted thirty-eight years. The year 1900 also marked the passing of the first police officer killed in the line of duty -- struck by a train while saving a woman caught between the tracks of two trains approaching from opposite directions.
Although horses were still used, in 1906 motorcycles were introduced for officers on patrol. This new form of conveyance enabled them to respond more rapidly and to perform their duties more efficiently. A drawback to this faster mode of transportation was that officers were unable to keep their caps on at increased speeds. In 1912 the department changed to a round military style cap. Further innovations of the time were the automobiles assigned to each precinct, and tear gas - a result of its successful use in the "Great War".
James W. Rynex was Chief of Police from 1904-1925, during the time of the greatest growth in the city of Schenectady. At the very beginning of his tenure, the city's population more than doubled from 31,000 to 73,000, and by 1925 had jumped to 95,000. Schenectady, with its industrialization and other great advances, had many policing needs as it became a modern 'boom town'. This was the Golden Era for the city of Schenectady as a crown jewel in the Empire State. New trolley lines, theaters, hotels, hospitals, parks, schools, improved utility systems, free trash collection and city welfare
system were prominent improvements during this time. It was also a turbulent and controversial period, with the city's first and only Socialist Party mayor, George R. Lunn, Socialist majority Common Council and Tammany Hall dominated New York State politics.
The Roaring Twenties and Prohibition treated Schenectady little differently from any other part of the country. There may not have been as much violence as depicted in the Elliot Ness television series "The Untouchables", based primarily on Chicago and New York City, but rumrunners, racketeers and hijackers were very real indeed. Bootleggers dealing usually in liquor brought from the Canadian border or the New England coast were often unfortunate enough to be relieved of their ill-gotten gains by hijackers. Attributed to the racketeering element of the decade was the ambush death and later fatal wounding of two more Schenectady police officers killed in the line of duty.
After the ambush murder in 1925, the Department's vice squad was created to concentrate on illegal alcohol and gambling activities. Today's Vice Squad handles illegal drug activities, prostitution and various other criminal acts. September of 1925 saw yet another of our police officers killed in an exchange of gunfire with armed robbers. Also that year, fingerprinting became one of the department's most valuable tools for identification. In 1928 the NYC Police Department implemented an eight-point cap style symbolizing the eight original members of the first Watch in Dutch Colonial New Amsterdam. The Schenectady Police Department followed suit, adopting the eight-point cap still in use today. The department made further advances in 1928 by introducing a formal training program for its officers, with Chief William Funston conducting the training and mandatory exam. Today's Schenectady police recruits, along with other recruits from ten counties in eastern New York, are initially trained at the Zone 5 Law Enforcement Academy in Troy, NY. Once on the job, officers are required to attend annual in-service training and receive specialized training related to their function within the department.
The department was moved from City Hall to its own building located at Smith Street and Clinton Street in the 1930s. Call boxes were upgraded to include a voice capability, two-way radios were used to dispatch patrol cars and electric signal lights were installed at intersections to aid in traffic control.
More technical and sociological advancementssoon followed. The benefit of good health and fitness for officers handling physical situations and to manage the stress associated with the diverse aspects of the profession was addressed in 1942 by Joseph A. Peters, Jr., in creating the department's first gym. Most of the machines were built by hand and fabricated by Officer Peters and fellow officers. Instruction was given in self-defense tactics and self-discipline in handling difficult situations. Peters retired in 1981 as Chief of Police with forty-two years of service and dedication to the city. At the age of 86, he continues to be an example to officers today as he regularly trains
at police headquarters with several other retired officers in their 70s and 80s -- all of whom can best many less than half their age. Chief Peters holds a lifetime of awards and weight-lifting records, including placing second in the 1939 Mr. America competition and placing first in his weight class for having the best-developed chest in America. He is a graduate of several schools including the FBI Academy, and has taught not only fitness, but also police topics and management at many schools and seminars. He has contributed articles to several national and international publications and the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, has been weightlifting chairman of the Adirondack Association of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), and has served in several capacities with the YMCA.
Today, our Schenectady Police Olympic Team exemplifies lessons learned from our precursors as it competes against officers from other departments nationally and internationally, consistently earning medals in events such as boxing, arm wrestling, track and field, wrestling, golf, karate, cycling, triathlon and an eight-event competition called the "Toughest Cop Alive". Officers also participate in exhibition games for the public -- most recently as a fundraiser to help defray medical expenses for a child with leukemia. Clinics in different sports have been given, and a Police Athletic League (PAL) was formed to teach community youth respect, courtesy, fair play and consideration of others. The department is also involved in helping challenged individuals through Special Olympics, with officers volunteering to serve as coaches, Grand Marshals and award presenters.
The department's Youth Aid Bureau (YAB) was formed in 1948
to deal with the growing number of children under the age of 16 who broke the law or were in need of supervision. Patricia McCann (Wellman) Carter was the first officer assigned to the newly created YAB; she later became the first woman in NYS to attain the rank of Police Captain. Assisting her in the duties of the YAB was Joseph Monaco, who later became Deputy Chief. Today more than ever the Bureau is a necessary link between parents, family court and troubled youths.
The first African-American officer, Patrolman Arthur Chaires, was hired in 1953. Two of his sons, Investigator David Chaires and Assistant Chief Mark Chaires, later joined the department following in their father's footsteps. Assistant Chief Mark Chaires, while working to obtain a doctoral degree, also heads the Field Services Bureau.
Advancements in the auto industry and highway development made our society increasingly mobile. In 1957, radar developed by the military during WWII was adapted to police work for enforcing speed limits, and specialized officers trained and dedicated solely to accident investigation were employed. The 1940s and 1950s saw three more officers killed in the line of duty. All three died while involved in vehicle pursuits or auto accidents. In the 1960s, old-fashioned call boxes were replaced by walkie-talkies, which allowed officers to communicate with headquarters. Also around this time, to assist detectives, the Smith and Wesson Company developed the Identa-kit system used by police departments worldwide. Identi-kit is a system of facial feature
slides that replace sketch artists in reconstructing a suspect from witness descriptions.

Formed in 1911 as the Electric City Patrolman's Association and fully constituted in 1922 as the Schenectady Patrolman's Benevolent Association, the Schenectady PBA was originally a social organization and community benefactor. In 1967 the NYS Legislature passed the Taylor Law allowing public workers to form unions, and one year later the PBA received its first negotiating contract with the city acting as a labor union on behalf of its members. The PBA is a non-profit organization involved in sponsoring and assisting other organizations in community service activities -- such as the William F. Eddy Memorial Track Meet held since 1941 -- and is dedicated to the welfare of its members, retirees, their widows and orphans and the entire Schenectady community.
A new police headquarters was built in 1973 at 531 Liberty Street. It is now home to the police department, police and fire dispatchers, city and police courts and county civil defense office. In 1979 our most recent officer killed in the line of duty was shot upon responding to a domestic trouble call. The following year the PBA initiated an award in the memory of the slain officer. The Ptl. William A. Koenige Community Service Award is presented annually to a member of the community who "…with unselfish desire to aid others, accomplishes an act in the preceding year with sincere interest in making Schenectady a better place to live". The youngest winner of this award was twelve-year-old John Bobbitt, who recognized a potentially dangerous situation and prudently acted upon it. He observed a four-year-old neighbor walking away from her home with a man who had her by the hand. Without regard for his own safety, John grabbed the little girl away from the stranger and phoned the police, thus saving her from potential serious harm. Within minutes the suspect was apprehended and charged with numerous crimes. For his courageous act, John Bobbitt was also presented citations from the Mayor, NYS Senate and Assembly and the US Congress.
Today, an enhanced 911 system and computer aided dispatch assists civilian public safety dispatchers by giving preprogrammed computer information on the location from which calls are generated. In an emergency it often is difficult for persons reporting an incident to communicate basic necessary information effectively. The preprogrammed information allows emergency services to be dispatched, along with any caution notes the responders may need to be aware of. Computer terminals in the police cars known as mobile data terminals, or MDTs, can give or receive messages electronically, reducing airtime over the radio and securing messages from being picked up by someone listening to a radio scanner. MDTs are also capable of getting NYS and interstate information on vehicles and persons through the NYS Police information network.
In weaponry, the six-shot revolvers once carried by officers have been replaced with semi-automatic pistols due to the increased use of handguns by the criminal element, and Oleo Resin Capsicum (pepper gas) now replaces tear gas in the officer's arsenal. Officers wear bullet-resistant armor in the form of vests made from Dupont Kevlar, a lightweight material that reduces a bullet's penetration. Specialized units (e.g. a SCUBA team) have been formed to aid the public in specific situations.
In 1829, Sir Robert Peel addressed the problems of law and order in the city of London by reforming the way its policing was administered. Hailed as the founder of modern policing, his reform included the outline of nine principles necessary to police a modern society. Although introduced nearly 200 years ago, these principles are true today, and are used as a guide for police training and evaluation in an effort to better serve the public.

1. The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder. 

2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions. 

3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain         the respect of the public. 

4. The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical       force. 

5. Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial             service to law. 

6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of       persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient. 

7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are         the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to       duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interest of community welfare and existence. 

8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary. 

9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

Today, as it was in the beginning, crime and to maintain peace and order. As a society changes, so should the police to reflect that society's needs and ideology. Our police department today has many areas of function and responsibility that did not exist when our department began and in most countries, were not the domain of the police department. During our over 130 years of service, when a specific need was realized and specialized skills were determined to be essential to address our city's needs, specialized jobs and divisions were created. 

The Field Services Bureau consists of the Patrol Division, Traffic Division and Prisoner Cellblock. The officers of this bureau have the greatest amount of public contact through daily neighborhood patrol and responding to calls for service. The patrol officer is considered the backbone of any police agency -- the first line of defense, the cornerstone on which every department is judged, the first responder to any and all problems our citizens may face. In the last thirty years, radio improvements, base and in-car computers and cellular telephones have put more information into the hands of responding officers than ever thought possible. Years ago officers walked their beats and knew everyone on a personal level. The officer's main duty was to maintain the peace and quality of life of the neighborhood. As society became more mobile, so did officers by being placed into cars. Officers were able to patrol a larger area and handle a greater quantity of calls. Patrol officers came when called, restored peace and order, and left. Until recently, this was still the common way of doing things by most departments. As neighborhoods and demographics continued to change, the public wanted the police to get involved in more than just stopping crime, they wanted the police to again address neighborhood 'quality of life'. This is reflected in the increase in the number of calls for service. In the late 1970s, the Patrol Division of the Schenectady Police Department responded to almost 30,000 calls for service annually. Today, requests number near 130,000 annually with only about a third of them similar to those of twenty-five years ago -- but with no real change in police manpower. To address quality of life concerns, a combination of patrol and community policing is utilized within the patrol division. Community policing philosophy is a proactive approach to policing, not reactive, and the police officer's role is that of problem solver, not just crime fighter. 

Community policing employs a wide range of tactics and strategies. It gives police officers the knowledge and the tools to analyze the reasons that certain incidents arise and helps them devise interventions that will reduce some of the underlying causes. Community policing is a philosophy that promotes a new partnership between the public and police based on the premise that both the police and the community must work together to identify, prioritize and solve contemporary problems. 

To apply a medical analogy to policing, patrol acts as an emergency room physician, giving immediate emergency care. Community policing acts as a family practitioner, dispensing long-term care and advice - but still able to render emergency care if needed. Communications, or dispatch, acts as triage, evaluating and balancing the level of care needed against the availability of the caregiver. 

Officers assigned to specific community policing positions act as liaisons among many community groups and neighborhood associations. They assist and train the Neighbor-hood Watch, an organization comprised of citizens patrolling as an extension of the Police Department, and who also coordinate a Child Find network to locate missing children and adults. Domestic violence services, Boys and Girls Clubs and the Municipal Housing Authority also receive assistance. Youth and adult Citizens Police Academies have been conducted to give participants an inside look at some of the training police officers receive, as well as other aspects of community government. 

As part of our community policing effort, the first municipal police bicycle patrol in the capital region was formed to augment neighborhood foot patrol officers. Trained and certified by the NYS Bureau for Municipal Police to ride police mountain bikes, officers patrol the city pedaling through buildings, alleyways, wooded areas, tunnels and other inaccessible and hidden areas not usually visited by the general patrol officer. Whether up or down stairs, or over or around obstacles where a person can go on foot, mountain bikes carry the officer faster and quieter. Response time to calls is often quicker since bike officers are able to pass through or around stalled traffic or take shortcuts through back alleys and sandlots once used by suspects as a means to a quick getaway. 

As a proactive response to drug abuse, in 1983 Los Angeles Chief of Police Daryl F. Gates joined with the Los Angeles United School District to establish an anti-drug education program. The new program was called Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE). It was believed that if police officers who are on the front line of the war on drugs could come into the classrooms and share their experiences with young students before they become involved with drugs, it may be much more meaningful than a teacher conducting an anti-drug program. As such, a curriculum addressing value decisions was developed. The purpose of the curriculum is to provide children with the knowledge and the ability to say no to substance abuse and not be influenced by peer pressure. The success and future of this program depends not only on the curriculum presentation, but also on the ability of the concerned citizens and businesses in our communities to financially support drug prevention education. The Schenectady Police DARE Program, which began in 1988, was the first such program in upstate NY and only the sixth in New York State. It is funded through a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the federal government. This grant pays only the officers' salaries, and must be renewed each year. The Schenectady DARE Advisory Board, a not-for-profit volunteer organization, raises money for all other expenses, such as school supplies and field trips. Today the Schenectady DARE Program is taught in grades 2, 5, 8 and 10. Four Schenectady Police Officers are the current DARE instructors. These officers all have many years of street experience, and each has his own individual methods of dealing with the students. These officers, as all DARE officers must, have undergone a vigorous training program to become NYS Certified DARE Instructors. 

DARE Programs have now been established in all 50 states and 7 foreign countries. DARE is also taught on all US military bases around the world. The goal of the program is the reduction of substance abuse in school age children. The benefits of reaching this goal are priceless -- not only for today, but for the future, when children must assume their roles as productive citizens and national leaders. 

The Investigative Services Bureau is charged with the management of all criminal investigations conducted by the Department. The turbulent decade of the 1990s saw dramatic change in the nature of crime in our community. The drug trade brought with it the violence that has plagued large urban areas for the last twenty-five years. The men and women of law enforcement have had to cope with decreasing budgets, increasing call volumes and increasing numbers of violent felons who have no ties to the area. Entities within the Investigative Services Bureau are the Detective Division, Youth Aid Division, Vice Squad and the Forensic Unit. 

The Detective Division is charged with the investigation of all felonies committed within the city, and with assisting other agencies in conducting investigations that have ties to someone in this community. State, regional, federal and international agencies routinely assist and are assisted by our department in crimes ranging from child abuse and abduction to industrial espionage. Additionally, the Detective Division provides support to the other parts of the department. Some examples of this support include assisting with taking statements, conducting interviews, applying for arrest warrants and conducting pre-employment background checks. 

The Forensic Unit is charged with the collection of physical evidence from crime scenes, the maintenance of all property and evidence entering the department and assisting the various bureaus with support such as photography, surveillance equipment and technical training in forensic matters. 

The Administrative Services Bureau includes all the elements necessary to manage and train the members of the department. Technical support, planning and research, records management, accreditation and public information are some of the specific duties included within the bureau. 

The Special Operations Squad (SOS) was established in 1986 to handle high risk, critical incidents such as: barricaded gunmen, hostage situations, counter-sniper operations, counter-terrorist operations, violent felon apprehensions, rescue operations and other high risk situations that require the use of a thoroughly trained and equipped tactical unit. Each member works within the team and is capable of exchanging roles as the situation dictates. Members are required to maintain a high level of physical fitness and firearms proficiency at all times. The SOS has assisted the Vice Squad and other departments in conducting hundreds of drug raids. They have participated in several joint operations with various Federal and State agencies in narcotic enforcement sweeps throughout the City of Schenectady. They have shared in joint exercises with SWAT teams from around the tri-city area, including NYS Police and NYS Department of Corrections. In 1993, they participated with the US military in Operation Tri-Star conducted at Fort Drum, NY. The SOS Observer/Sniper teams have extensive firearms training. Each member attends the Advanced Rifle Training for the Observer/Sniper School conducted at the FBI Academy, and has trained police forces from other nations in specialized tactics, including departments from Spain and delegates from Brazil. 

Not all police officers have two legs. Some of them have four legs and a nose that can sniff out drugs, bombs, guns and people. The police canine wears a badge and is an officer of the law. Just as with human officers, it is a crime to harm a police animal while in the performance of its duties. Both the canine and his officer are specially trained by the NYS Police K-9 School for many months and are recertified annually. They have responded to several thousand calls, including detection and recovery of drugs and drug money; high-risk entries and tracking; apprehension of felons; recovery of handguns used in crimes; gun detection; bomb threats and suspicious packages. 

To maintain cutting edge technology in a rapidly changing industry, our department is striving to improve our computer system to include laptops with download capability, enhanced agency links, digital imagery and automatic manufacturer upgrades. 

The citizens of this community may be proud of their police department. The uniforms have changed. The methods have become more advanced. But the men and women who are its substance today remain as dedicated to public service as the city fathers of 1870 whose singular vision created the Schenectady Police Department.

Community Policing Consortium. 1726 M St. NW, Suite 801, Washington, D.C. 200636 

Hart, Larry (1974). Schenectady's Golden Era, 1880-1930. Third Edition. Scotia, NY: Old Dorp Books. 

Hulett, Don "Joe" (1998). Schenectady Out of the Ashes: A Brief Account of the 1690 Massacre. Schenectady, NY: Effner History Research Library.
New York City Police Department Museum. 100 Old Islip, New York, New York 10005
Peters, Joseph A., Jr. Chief of Police (Retired). Schenectady Police Department, Schenectady, NY.
Peters, Joseph A., III Sergeant (Retired). Held the rank of Captain prior to Departmental reorganization. Schenectady Police Department, Schenectady, NY.
Sanders, James A. Lieutenant. Training and Community Services Commander, Schenectady Police Department, Schenectady, NY.
Schenectady County Historical Society.32 Washington Ave, Schenectady, NY: Grems-Doolittle Library 

Schenectady Police Benevolent Association (1995). William F. Eddy Jr. Memorial Track & Field Meet. Scotia, NY: Gotham Productions Inc. 

Wemple, Raymond Sergeant (Retired). Schenectady Police Department, Schenectady, NY. Coordinator Schenectady County Law Enforcement Radio District. 

Yager, Eric L. Lieutenant (Retired). Vice Squad Commander, Schenectady Police Department, Schenectady, NY. 

Wood, Clifford G. SR. Lieutenant (Retired). Schenectady Police Department, Schenectady, NY.