Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Philadelphia Police Department
The Philadelphia Police Department is the police agency responsible for law enforcement and investigations within the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is one of the oldest police agencies in the United States and the fourth largest in the country.
The PPD can trace its roots back to 1751 and the installation of a paid group of wardens and constables to perform limited patrols and station themselves in public watch boxes. In 1850, a police marshal was appointed, and the police force became more formalized as its duties expanded with the city's size and population.
In 1881, the PPD hired its first African-American police officer. In 1887, the police department was put under control of the city's Department of Public Safety. Two years later, the PPD inaugurated its mounted patrol.
1906 marked the introduction of motorcycles to the Philadelphia police, and thirty years later, radio-installed patrol cars were put into use. In 1979, the PPD reached its peak size at approximately 8,500 officers.
The current Philadelphia Police Department employs more than 6,600 officers, and patrols an area of 369.4 km² (142.6 mi²) with a population of almost 1.5 million. The department is subdivided into twenty-three patrol districts, and like many other large municipal police forces, it incorporates many special units such as a mounted unit, K-9 squad, SWAT, community relations unit, and harbor patrol.
Special Aspects of the PPD
The PPD has several unique features which distinguish it from other municipal police agencies. One of these features is the department's Hero Scholarship Thrill Show , which is a 45-year-old program designed to provide funds for the college education of the children of PPD officers slain or disabled in the line of duty. Funds are raised through ticket sales for the Thrill Show, which features police and fire department demonstrations, exhibits, and games.
Another unique aspect of the Philadelphia Police is its use of a municipal highway patrol special unit. The Philadelphia Highway Patrol serves two roles within the department: one, to enforce traffic safety and standards, and two, to serve as a specialized anti-crime task force in high-crime areas of the city. The PPD's Highway Patrol unit serves as an elite sub-group within the department, and has only a few counterparts in other cities, most notably New York's Highway Patrol division and Boston's Special Operations Unit.
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