History From “Newark and Its Leading Businessmen” 1891

Previous to 1850 there was no organized day police force, and the police duty was performed by constables who were hired for that purpose from time to time, as occasion might require, although there was a night police force earlier than this, composed of a mere handful of men, mostly constables, who were known as the leather-head police.  In 1850 the first marshal of police was appointed.  His name was Whitbeck, and he used to have his headquarters on the second floor of Centre Market.

The lockup about this time and for some years previous, was in the basement under the Court House on Market Street.  The cells that were used then are still in existence, and are sometimes exhibited to visitors as samples of the tortures inflicted on prisoners in bygone days.  They are little, narrow apartments in which a man can hardly stand upright, and when the doors are closed are almost pitch dark.  About a quarter of a century ago, one of the Essex County judges ordered a man locked up in one of these cells for contempt of Court.  He became interested in a case he was trying and forgot all about the unfortunate prisoner, whom he had only intended to lock up for a few minutes, more for the purpose of frightening him than anything else. and left him in the cell for three hours.  When the man was taken out he was unconscious, and at first it was thought dead, but after working with him some time he recovered, and since that time these cells have never been used. 

Marshal Whitbeck went to California in 1853/185, and Richard Francisco was elected Chief Marshal and Eliphalet C. Blazier and Robert Land Assistant Marshalls. They also had their headquarters over Centre Market.  The city subsequently rented a brick building on Academy Street, where the post office now stands, and established a police station there. Robert Lang was made Chief Marshal in 1856.  In 1857 the police force was reorganized, and Henry C. Whitney was made Chief, and the headquarters were moved to the lower end of Centre Market, where a lockup was fitted up.  In 1865, the Police Headquarters building was erected on William Street in the rear of the City Hall, and for many years this was the only police station in Newark.  About fifteen years ago the Second Precinct station house was opened in the City Armory building on Morris and Essex Railroad Avenue.

There are now four police station houses in Newark, as follows: the First Precinct, or Police Headquarters, on William Street; the Second Precinct, on Morris and Essex Railroad Avenue; the Third Precinct, on Ferry Street; the Fourth Precinct, on Springfield Avenue.  The police force of Newark for years was entirely under the control of the Common Council, and whenever the political complexion of that body changed there was a general overturning among the officers of the department, and wholesale removals even of patrolmen.

For a few years past, however, the control of the department has been taken from the Common Council and placed in the hands of a non-partisan board of four Police Commissioners, two Republicans and two Democrats.  Since then there has been a marked improvement in the morale and discipline of the force.  The present Chief of Police is Henry Hopper, who has been a member of the force for over ten years, and entered the department as a patrolman.

The force at present consists of one Chief of Police, four Captains, ten Lieutenants, ten Sergeants, five Detectives, under the command of Detective Sergeant Stainsby, 170 Patrolmen and six detailed men, one Police Surgeon, one Truant Officer, one Electrician, four Drivers, one Stableman, and one Janitress.  The city is now equipped with a police patrol signal system, by which through signal boxes placed at convenient intervals about the streets, the patrolmen can communicate with their respective station houses, and summon patrol wagons to their aid with a reserve force of men when needed, so that in case of riot or disturbance it would be possible to concentrate a large force of policemen at any given point in a few minutes.

The Newark police force today is a well disciplined body of men; neat and clean in their personal appearance and habits; well drilled in all the military movements and tactics necessary for them to know, so much so, in fact, that when marching through the streets of the city favorable comment from citizens is heard on all sides.