Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Police Department Then and Now

Last night the Common Council met in executive session to discuss the new police contract. While the Council deliberates, Gossips decided to share this photograph of the Hudson Police Department taken, judging from the police car and the paddy wagon, in the early 1930s.

It would appear that the police department, then headquartered in the part of the old City Hall that now houses the offices of the Hudson Opera House, was made up of six men who served a population that numbered, according to the 1930 census, 12,337. Today, the Hudson Police Department has something like twenty-four officers, not including the people who monitor the parking meters, and the population of Hudson, according to the latest census, is 6,713. 


  1. It's just big biz now meeting quotas.

  2. The photograph could also be the mid to late 1920s, judging from the vehicles.

    "Paddy Wagon" btw is a derisive term, which refers to the Irish who were often carted to precinct houses in such vehicles in the 19th C. Now that we are in the 21st C, perhaps it is better that we left that term behind, and heavens, let's not update it either.

    Back in the 1920s and 30s, the family unit was stronger, churches had more influence, and if one stepped out of line, one got a good kick in the proverbial keester by one's father, teacher, nun or cop. People had to work, or they starved. The drug culture was not as prevalent, nor was it glamorized by the music industry like it sometimes is today. That world is long gone: hence, the need today for more police.

  3. The Opera House offices are just large enough for 5-6 very dedicated people, like the staff that's there now. So they probably couldn't fit more than 6 police officers in there at any given time.

  4. Carole are you sure this picture shows the entire Police Department? Seems unlikely IMHO. -- Jock Spivy

  5. As an Irishman, I'd be more offended if the term "paddywagon" was politically corrected, sensitized, remediated, refined, rectified, re-baptized, or re-educated.

    If we have to live in such a hyphenated, moribund society, then there must be one remaining "identity group" that doesn't exist to project its self-fantasized victimhood onto everybody else, even if and when the suffering is real.

    Because Irish culture traditionally values and cultivates the art of laughing at oneself, Americans of Irish descent could do worse than offering this aspect of their heritage as a kind of a social service.

    Even the sound of the word "paddywagon" makes me thirsty for a drop.

    (Ya see Observer? it's really that easy. Now let's all get over ourselves.)

  6. @umheimlich:
    I am saddened to see that you are defending lingo which is a hangover from days when the Irish were oppressed and treated like third class citizens in this country.
    There are tons of other ethnic and racial epithets out there and still in use, some coarse, some cruel and some more subtle.
    You are playing into your own ethnic stereotype through your comments (self-deprecation and drinking) and, in my view, have added little in the way of any interesting observations about the HPD post above. Ethnic slurs and demeaning references have no place in our society as it stands today. It's not "really that easy", and it takes discipline and fortitude to avoid writing, and to saying, things that have faint, but albeit, offensive undertones. I was just pointing out that the phrase "paddy wagon" is, at this point in US history, best avoided and left in the realm of old movies. Like the HPD, the PC police, while perhaps overzealous at times, do serve an important societal function.

  7. If Hudson has 6500 residents & 25 police officers, we have roughly 4 police per 1000 people. The average for Cities & Towns our size is 2.2, the national average is 2.5.

    See: http://www.theiacp.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=LF7xdWl1tPk%3D&tabid=87

    1. ... and then we also have the State Police, the Sheriff s Dept, and Greenport Police - talk about an "industry!"

    2. I also found the statistic you quote.
      A recent house guest observed that we seem to have no end of city owned vehicles. I wonder how we shape up in that department, and what is the criteria for having the use of a city owned vehicle, when one can walk the city so easily.

  8. To Observer--I apologize for using the term "paddy wagon." When I chose it, I recognized its connection with the Irish in New York City, but I thought it was because at one time the majority of the police officers in the city were Irish.

    In addition to the very derogatory etymology you cite, there is another which explains that the police vans in New York had P.D., for Police Department, emblazoned on the side, and saying "P.D. wagon" evolved into "paddy wagon."

    Still, it doesn't take Dutch courage to admit it was a bad choice of words.

  9. @ Carole Osterink: No worries, and I appreciate your graciousness.

    @David Marston: Hudson is NOT an average, or even, median, city/town!! The average burg in the US does not have the crime-prone population and "wild west" atmosphere that gives Hudson its glamorous edge. Most average city and towns, are just that, average....and boring!

    1. What does "Crime prone population" mean, and who fits that category?

    2. "Crime-prone population" refers first to a citywide statistic, and further to statistical breakdowns according to areas within the city.

      Another key question goes to the nature of the crime.

      Our County Supervisor in the 1st Ward is currently trying to get more accurate information from the HPD detailing the nature of specific, more humdrum crimes, at which point we'll have a much better understanding of the panoply of crimes in Hudson and overall statistical averages.

      But if you're new in town, have a look at the various police blotters which are posted at the Register Star website.

      My own personal impression is that Hudson sees an inordinate amount of violent crime, which I have no comparative statistics to back up. Not yet anyway. Of course that is the sort of crime that's most unsettling throughout the nation.

      In Hudson, it is obvious that most of those crimes happen in specific parts of the city, though no area is immune.

      But before I must suffer your innuendo or loaded questions (e.g., "who fits the category?"), I think I'll let you pursue your own research which is easily done.

  10. Geez Observer, but you are a chronic drag on the imagination. You may find this aphorism a curative:

    "The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction."

    And I knew it! - you're not even of Irish descent or you would've defended yourself on those grounds. Well, you couldn't be Irish with such a remote notion of things.

    In that case you're an equal opportunity piety monger, a sanctimonious poacher in the name political correctness, a wet blanket and a killjoy (and something of a self-styled mind reader as I recall).

    Not only are you not Irish, you're a puritan! And what's it all for? Who does it really serve?

    You'll discern my answer for "who" from our last little talk.

    As for the "what," there is a pitiable deadness in all of this reflexive, organized goodness which camouflages a controlling nature. And it is just this element that irks the Irish psyche to no end.

    On Wikipedia, check out: "Massachusetts Bay Colony"; then see how the Puritans smothered this fellow, an artist: "Thomas Morton."

    Anyway, please stick to your own ethnic sob story; being "correct" for everyone else is just over the top.

    "Paddy wagon" - in its derogatory sense - must be preserved.

    Anyone who understands any of the above will know that my objection has everything to do with concerns about policing.

  11. "Observer," nothing could be more anathema to the Irish psyche than self-appointed thought police.

    The idea that you are primly chastising people for the benefit of groups other than your own, and over the objections of a member of a group that is not your own, shows the absurdity of the excesses of political correctness.

    In a deeply-related subject, earlier you claimed to know exactly what Tom Swope was thinking even though he did not see you and no words were spoken. I'm not defending Tom per se, but everyone.

    C'est sinistre!

    You're a useful example of something that's pulling us all down under the guise of being virtuous. You mistakenly suppose that you are doing no harm in Hudson, and that your pieties will grant you a free pass.

    I suspect you won't be able to appreciate this, but to paraphrase an apocryphal Burke quotation, "all that is necessary for the numbing of culture is that good men do nothing."

    You are at least in synch with your well-chosen handle.

  12. "Unfortunately, there were men in the new world of a sterner faith than those Maypole worshippers. Not far from Merry Mount was a settlement of Puritans, most dismal wretches, who said their prayers before daylight, and then wrought in the forest or the cornfield till evening made it prayer time again. Their weapons were always at hand to shoot down the straggling savage. ....

    "Woe to the youth or maiden who did but dream of a dance! ... or if he danced, it was round the whipping-post, which might be termed the Puritan Maypole. ...

    "And Endicott, the severest Puritan of all who laid the rock foundation of New England, lifted the wreath of roses from the ruin of the Maypole, and threw it, with his own gauntleted hand, over the heads of the Lord and Lady of the May. It was a deed of prophecy. As the moral gloom of the world overpowers all systematic gayety, even so was their home of wild mirth made desolate amid the sad forest. They returned to it no more. ..."

    (From 'The Maypole of Merrymount,' by Nathaniel Hawthorne.)

  13. I love Gossips of Rivertown. The only real newspaper in town,run solo by one rather remarkable person .
    What started out as a photo of cops from the late 20's ends up in a donnybrook dragging in Wm Blake,an Alderman,an educated businessman newly arrived ,Nathaniel Hawthorne,a quote by Burke that was paraphrased famously by Martin Luther King,an ecologist O'Connor defending Paddy Wagon's being called paddy wagon's ;the editor in chief ,apologizing for calling paddy wagons paddy wagons,and an Observer I find quite a character in observations,and hope will not be deterred from discussions of tigers and horses.Tigers here in Hudson have targets painted on their backs and the horses are jack asses ,no offence to jack asses.Ah, if horses were wishes we'd be knee deep in poop ,call the cops!!Tim $250 fine and show us your poop bags. Meanwhile I went out for the first time ever ,as i am a hermit,to support 25yrs of ACT UP.while I was gone they shot a guy on my corner.No biggy ,below the chest ,foggy so they drove him to Albany instead of a chopper(2nd Ward sh*t) and a couple of Hudson's finest busted some guy for selling crack on my street.That's like bustin' some guy on Mulberry street for selling cannolis.
    Tigers and Horses and Paddy Wagons OH MY!!

  14. @ R. Rasner:

    You seem to question that Hudson has a "crime prone population", and you seem to insinuate that I have made a rather outrageous statement with a potentially illiberal resonance.
    You are being silly.
    There are over 30 registered sex offenders in the City of Hudson. There are constant shootings and drug raids. We have an ex-Alderman who went to prison for bilking the City. And then upon his release, went on the lam. A murder plot was hatched at a now-closed bar, and people were murdered as a result. Crime is a clear and present reality in Hudson.
    The "average" US town/small city does not have the same level of crime. That's one reason Hudson has a disproportionately large police force, and I am glad of it.