Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Boston Police Department
The Boston Police Department (BPD) is the police department with primary responsibility for law enforcement and investigation within the city of Boston, Massachusetts. It is one of the largest departments in the United States, ranking as 20th biggest, and has been argued to be the oldest police department in the country.
The formal founding date of the Boston Police Department is 1838, when a bill was passed allowing the city of Boston to appoint police officers in an arrangement allowing combined day and night patrols of the city. The Boston Police at that point constituted the first paid and 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 more closely organized and modeled after Robert Peel's London Police.
In 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 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, and brought in the state national guard to restore order to Boston. The strike was broken, permanently, when Coolidge hired entirely-new 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.
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.
The Boston Police Department currently has approximately 1,400 officers, with patrol services covering an area of 232.1 km² (89.6 mi²) and a population of 589,141. The BPD currently requires all employed officers to live within Boston city-limits, a point that leads many within the department to call for pay raises to help officers meet the city's high cost of living. The BPD currently is divided into 11 precinct districts spread across the city, and incorporates many specialized units, including its Special Operations Unit, Harbor Patrol, Domestic Violence Unit, Mounted Unit, and a Crime Lab Unit.
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