The Boston Police Department was formally organized in 1854, but the department traces its origins to the establishment of a night watch of six men and an officer in 1631. At a town meeting in 1701, watchmen were instructed to be "on duty from ten o'clock till broad daylight. . . . They are to go about silently with watch bills, not using any bell, and no watchman to smoke tobacco while walking their rounds; and when they see occasion, to call to persons to take care of their light."
Today, the duties of the Boston police officer are supported by advanced forensic technologies and modern equipment. Officers walk neighborhood beats, control local crime, and are ready at a moment's notice to respond to acts of terrorism. Boston Police Department, the first comprehensive photographic history of the department, details one hundred fifty years of crime fighting in Boston.
The collection includes images of the 1919 Boston Police Strike; an overview of specialized units, vehicles, uniforms, and equipment; and an honor roll of officers who have fallen in the line of duty.