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5 Things You Didn't Know About The Boston Police Department

You see them around the city; Boston police officers patrolling, investigating, and generally fighting crime. And while we all know they're hired to serve and protect, here are five things you didn't know about the Boston Police Department.
Boston Police
Boston police officers in uniform from 1877. (Photo from Boston Police Dept./Faecbook)

1. Small Starting Salary

Boston established a Watch around 1630 that went on to become the BPD. Contrary to what the badge says (1630), the Boston Police Department wasn't officially established until 1854. It consisted of 250 officers (for a population of about 150,000). Each officer was paid $2.00 per day or night shift, and the officers were not allowed to hold another job. They wore a badge, but no official uniform. The first uniform was established in 1858. Officers had to pay out of their own pockets for their uniforms until 1919.

Boston Police Cruiser
An illustration of the first BPD "cruiser." (Photo from

2. Hired Drivers

Boston's first police cruiser made its debut in 1903. It was the first dedicated police car in the country. At the time, there were no Boston police officers who knew how to drive the vehicle, which was a Stanley Streamer touring car. The department hired a chauffeur to operate it. The police officer on patrol actually sat on higher seat so that he could see over the tall fences that lined properties in Back Bay, and keep an eye out for any shenanigans.

3. Patrolling The Streets

At the turn of the century, the Department employed 1000 patrolmen who made about 32,000 arrests annually. Currently, according to spokesperson Cheryl Fiandaca, the Boston Police Department employs 2,104 sworn members, not including a recruit class of 56 set to graduate in the summer of 2013. Apparently the larger police presence works as a pretty good deterrent. The number of arrests in 2012 totaled 15,626.

Fake Cruiser
A fake Boston police cruiser used for movies. (Photo Courtesy: Anthony Fiandaca)

4. Fake Districts

Boston has been dubbed Hollywood East for the number of movies and television shows that are shot within city limits. To avoid confusion within the BPD, any time a Boston police cruiser is used in filming it is marked with a fictional district. Districts A-8 and D-6 were used in The Town. G-5 and G-8 have also shown up in different movies.

Police K-9s
Boston police officers walk with the city's first K-9 officers. (Photo credit: Boston Police K-9 Unit/Facebook)

5. The K-9 Unit

The Boston Police Department K-9 unit turned 50 years old in 2013. BPD currently employs 21 K-9's (their newest member is Mace). They're trained to track, recover evidence like guns and shell casings, sniff out narcotics and explosive compounds, locate and apprehend hiding suspects, and to protect their handlers. The department's first group of six K-9's was a gift from a German magazine that was covering the Boston Strangler case at the time. The dogs were all assigned to tactical squads. Their names were Harro von Ustammu, Mark I, Connie, Gitta, and Anka (it's unclear what the sixth one was named).

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