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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

NYPD - Historical and Current Research: Police Commissioners

This is a guide mainly focusing on the history of the NYPD, but modern sources are covered too. By Ellen Belcher

Subject Headings

A few subject headings that may be useful for searching for books in OneSearch and WorldCat
  • Police chiefs -- New York (State) -- New York -- Biography.
  • Police -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Police administration -- New York (State) -- New York -- History.

NYPD Commissioners list

from Wikipedia:

Pre 1901: Prior to 1901, the NYPD was run by a board of 4 to 6 commissioners that jointly ran the department. The following is a list of some of the most famous members of the Police Commission:

Post-1901 From 1901 onwards, the NYPD has been run by a single commissioner that solely ran the department. The following is a list of the commissioners:


Resources on Police Commissioners

Below are selected resources on leadership and their date of service in the New York Police Department from its inception
Thomas Action
Commissioner Thomas Action Papers (1861-1895) These 110 letters written by Action document his career as a member (1860-63), and president (1863-69) of the Board of Police Commissioners of the City of New York. Special Collections Room (Avail. by Appt.)
George Washington Matsell
Matsell, George Washington. (1875) Answer and protest of George W. Matsell, Police Commissioner and President of the Board of Police of the City of New York, to charges made against the commissioners of police by the Mayor of the City of New York, October 7, 1875. New York, N.Y. : John X. Browne.  Special Collections Room - HV 8148 .N52 M373 1875  (Avail. by appt.)
 Walling, George W. (George Washington), 1823-1891.
(1890) Recollections of a New York chief of police : an official record of thirty-eight years as patrolman, detective, captain, inspector and chief of the New York police [New York, N.Y.] : Caxton Book Concern, Ltd. Special Collections Room HV 8148 .N5 W3 1890  (avail by appt) or available in digital copy on internet archives.
Theodore Roosevelt Superintendent of Police 1895-1897
Zacks,  Richard (2012) Island of vice : Theodore Roosevelt's doomed quest to clean up sin-loving New York.  Stacks - HV6795.N5 Z33 2012 (on order as of April 2012)
Jeffers, H. Paul (1994) Commissioner Roosevelt: the story of Theodore Roosevelt and the New York City police, 1895-1897   Stacks - HV 7911 .R65 J45 1994
Berman, Jay Stuart. (1987) Police administration and progressive reform : Theodore Roosevelt as police commissioner of New York. Stacks HV8148 .N5 B47 1987
NYPD Commissioners (1901-Present)_________
Rizzo, Brian Joseph.  (2010) Serving at the pleasure of the Mayor : an exploration of political involvement in New York police commissioner departures 1901-2001. Unpub. PhD Diss., CUNY Graduate School.  Special Collections LD3835 .A5 R59 2010 (also available through Dissertation Abstracts)
Commissioner William McAdoo
William McAdoo (1906) Guarding a great city. (New York, Harper & Brothers)  Special Collections Room - HV8148.N5 M2
Commissioner Benjamin Ward
The Papers of Commissioner Benjamin Ward available by appointment in the Special Collections Room
Commissioner William Bratton
Bratton, William J. Great expectations : how higher expectations for police departments can lead to a decrease in crime. [New York, N.Y.] : Police Dept., city of New York, [1995]. Special Collections HV 8148 .N52 B72 1995
Bratton, W., & Knobler, Peter. (1998). Turnaround : How America's top cop reversed the crime epidemic. Stacks HV7911 .B72 A3 1998 
Commissioner Lee Brown
Brown, Lee P. Community policing.  [videorecording] Lecture at  John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Reserve Room - 3 hour loan LD 2602

1994-2001 Mayor Giuliani & Commissioners Bratton. Safir and 'Broken Windows'

During this the second half of the 1990s under NYC Mayor Giuliani, NYC policing strategies significantly changed. A series of NYPD publications describe these strategies - some of which were quite controversial and long-lasting.

1993 NYPD Precinct Community Council Handbook. freely available via NCJRS

1994 Getting guns off the streets of New York (Police Strategy No. 1) Special Collections - HV8148 .N52 N45 1994

1994 Curbing youth violence in the schools and on the streets (Police Strategy No. 2) Special Collections & Special Collections Room - HV8148 .N52 N45 1994a

1994 Driving drug dealers out of New York (Police Strategy No. 3) Special Collections & Special Collections Room - HV8148 .N52 N45 1994b Freely available on the Library Digital Collections

1994 Breaking the cycle of domestic violence (Police Strategy No. 4) Special Collections - HV8148 .N52 N45 1994c

1994 Reclaiming the public spaces of New York (Police Strategy No. 5) Special Collections - HV8148 .N52 N45 1994d freely available PDF linked from NCJRS Abstract

1995 Reducing Auto-Related Crime in New York (Police Strategy No. 6) NCJRS abstract

1995 The year of change this title has been digitized and is freely available on the John Jay College Library page of the Internet Archive

1995 Rooting out corruption: building organizational integrity in the New York Police Department (Police Strategy No. 7) Special Collections - HV8148 .N52 .N45 1995a   Freely available on Library Digital Collections

1995 Reclaiming the Roads of New York (Police Strategy No. 8) Freely available on Library Digital Collections

1997 Strategy '97: goal-oriented neighborhood policing (Special Collections Room - HV8148 .N52 N45 1997b, use by appt. only)

1997 The cutting edge of policing: civil enforcement for the 21st century (Special Collections Room - HV8148 .N52 N45 1997, use by appt. only) note: we also have a video with this same title.

see also:

The Website & Archives of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, 107th Mayor of New York City

1998 New York (N.Y.). Task Force on New York City Police/Community Relations. Report to the Mayor.

2007 Zimring, Franklin E The great American crime decline. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. Stacks - HV6783 .Z56 2007 or e-book

The page in this guide on Broken Windows.