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The Boss

By David Dayton McKean
This Web version, edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

The first notable aspect of the Jersey City police force is its size. There are 968 employees, the largest number for any American city with 300,000 to 400,000 population. For this and other reasons it is also the most expensive police force for any similar city, as the accompanying table, compiled from the 1940 Municipal Yearbook,-, with Jersey City figures for 1940 – will show .

City Population, 1930
(000 omitted)
Total police department employees 1938 Minimum salary for patrolmen Salary of chief of police Total wages and salaries paid, 1939 Total costs of department 1939
Indianapolis 364 567 $1,700 $4,800 $1,162,011 $1,369,543
Jersey City 317 968 3,000 9,000 3,009,624 3,552,624
Kansas City 400 649 1,500 5,000 959,619 1,150,657
Louisville 308 432 1,417 4,050 696,922 893,926
Portland, Ore. 303 438 1,950 4,800 964,064 1,119,380
Rochester 328 477 1,785 4,900 1,000,308 1,224,063
Seattle 366 574 1,920 5,000 1,196,508 1,439,836

Fourth in size among these seven cities, Jersey City has the largest number of employees on its police payroll; it pays its patrolmen most, its chief most, and more than twice as much as Indianapolis. Its total costs are also the highest. Pittsburgh, which is about twice the size of Jersey City, has a police force of approximately the same size. The three- thousand-dollar salary for patrolmen is the highest in the United States.

The reason for the disproportionately high cost of wages and salaries may be seen from the wage scale in the 1940 payroll.

Harry W. Walsh, chief $9,000
2 deputy chiefs 7,000 (each)
7 inspectors 6,000 (each)
12 captains 5,000 (each)
123 lieutenants 3,700 (each)
81 sergeants 3,500 (each)
53 detectives 3,450 (each)
566 patrolmen 3,000 (each)

This force is organized, it will be noted, somewhat like a Mexican army; there are only two privates for each person above the lowest rank. Each captain has under him fewer than fifty patrolmen; each lieutenant fewer than six patrolmen. The 566 patrolmen, moreover, are not all assigned to police duty; an undiscoverable number serve as chauffeurs for important city officials, or as elevator operators or ambulance drivers at the Medical Center.

There are also 101 other persons on the payroll of the police department who are not policemen, such as:

James F. Norton, medical examiner $6,000
Assistant 3,000
Police surgeon 4,750
6 city physicians 1,650 (each)
2 chaplains 2,400 (each)
18 janitors $4.25 per day (each)
22 miscellaneous positions, such as linemen, clerks, etc Various (each)
54 utility men $6.25 per day (each)


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