Department History

On April 13, 1825 the Village of Syracuse was incorporated. Beginning in 1827, police service in the Village of Syracuse was performed by a Constable who was paid $25.00 per year. The population of Syracuse was 2,565. In 1828 another constable was added also at a salary of $25.00 per year and the first night watch was established.

By 1846 the population of Syracuse had grown to 11,014. On January 3, 1848 voters from the villages of Salina and Syracuse voted to merge and the City of Syracuse Police Department was formed.

The population of the City of Syracuse continued to rise and by 1869 had reached 48,255. Police headquarters was located in the City Hall building and contained 32 jail cells in the basement. The Chief of Police earned a salary of $100 per month. A police captain earned $83 per month and patrolmen earned $65 per month.  

In February 1885 the police force was increased to 45 members and the Syracuse Police Department introduced the first patrol wagon in New York State. In 1891 the first police matron was appointed to the department.

On July 31, 1893 Detective James A. Harvey was gunned down becoming the first Syracuse Police Officer to be killed in the line of duty. In 1894 Lucious Wilson was executed in Auburn Prison’s electric chair for the murder of Detective Harvey.

By 1902 the police department had grown to 135 members. The first officers on horseback and motorcycles were deployed. In 1906 the first automobile patrol was deployed and in 1907 the first paddy wagon was put into service.

The Police Department headquarters moved to Clinton Street & Willow Street in 1909 where it remained until 1964 when it moved into the newly erected Public Safety Building on South State Street.

Today the Syracuse Police Department has more than 475 members and serves a population of approximately 143,000.