Then & Now

A look at the thin blue line, past and current, in Yonkers.

Then & Now


Serve & Protect

By Marisa Iallonardo



Yonkers may have its fair share of crime but, as the largest city in the county, it also has the largest police force, with about 670 officers on duty at any given time.  This wasn’t always the case. Back in 1855, the city had a few part-time, volunteer officers, working mostly at night and on weekends. By the mid 1860s, however, crime had become so rampant that the city was in need of full-time help. Twelve officers and two sergeants were hired from the NYPD to work in Yonkers. These officers, though, were still members of the New York City force and were, essentially, “rented” by Yonkers. Five years later, it was time for Yonkers to venture out on its own. On April 10, 1871, with 20 officers, the Yonkers Police Department officially went on duty.



Policing usually was done on foot, although officers often used horses and wagons or sleds (during the winter) to catch criminals. The summer uniform, shown in the picture above right, was gray, with buttons running down the center (an unbuttoned collar was considered disrespectful to women) and a derby hat. Guns were not carried, and if an officer wanted one, he had to buy it himself. Today, horses have been replaced with squad cars, every officer has a gun, and a dark blue uniform is worn throughout the year.


Photos Courtesy of the George rutledge collection at the yonkers police museum



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