Early History

Historic Police Officers on Motorcycles

In 1800, Newburgh was the second village in New York State to be incorporated. Since the American Revolution a "Committee of Safety", within the village of Newburgh, held the responsibility and duties of what was then called the local administration. The streets of the village of Newburgh were laid out with the village being run by elected trustees. Charles Clinton was the first president of the newly incorporated village which then had a population of 2300 people. On May 25, 1836, the following act was established: "The Board of Trustees of the Village of Newburgh shall have the right to appoint a suitable number of Watchmen as may be required for the safety of the village."

By 1865, nearly 14,000 persons lived in Newburgh. The Civil War ended and Newburgh then incorporated into a city. George Clark was elected the first Mayor and on March 11, 1866, the Common Council held its first meeting. Alexander Morgan was chosen to organize and manage a full-time, uniformed police department in the new City of Newburgh. Only 20 years earlier, in 1845, New York City had formed the very first uniformed city police department in the United States. All of the City of Newburgh officers kept their jobs at the pleasure of the Mayor and Common Council.

Newburgh's early police department consisted of twenty-two officers including the chief, two sergeants, two roundsmen, sixteen patrolmen, and one janitor. On April 6, 1869, the Newburgh Police Department was finally authorized with regulations, by Common Council Ordinance.

Police Headquarters at the turn of the century was located on First Street, between Montgomery and Smith Street in a three-story building apportioned into a courtroom, a sitting room, an office, sleeping rooms, and jail cells. The police patrol was divided into two shifts, which alternated from six hours on duty to six hours off duty during a 24-hour period. When an officer was not patrolling his assigned beat, he stayed at police headquarters ready to respond to any calls for help. Police Headquarters moved to Grand Street, in the rear, the first floor of what is now the City Hall building in 1896. Starting around 1900, the officers were placed under the guidelines of civil service.