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The roots of the Syracuse Police Department date back to 1825. Following the opening of the Erie Canal and the boom of the thriving salt industry, Syracuse became a bustling metropolis and a jumping-off point for pioneers, entrepreneurs, and adventurers. The first constable, H.W. Durnford, soon faced the problem of roustabouts, gamblers, and robbers preying upon the canal and warehouse workers along lower James Street. While the community experimented with village and night watches, special constables, and patrolmen, no permanent solution was found. On January 1, 1846, the final die was cast when Syracusans clashed with salt boilers from the adjoining village of Salina in the bloody Coffeehouse Riot. Because of insufficient police services, the militia had to put down the riot. To improve services, both villages voted to consolidate, and in 1848, the City of Syracuse and its police department were created. Syracuse Police illustrates the evolution of urban policing and gives insight into the department’s core values and the police officers who have held them sacred.
About the Author
Authors Daniel F. Walsh, Thomas L. Derby, and Russell W. Gates are serving members of the Syracuse Police Department. They have assembled this collection of images from department archives, newspapers, and personal collections.