Behind The “1839” Badge

Monday, October 23, 2017 | by Al Hobbs |


Well, this time next week I will be embarking on a new chapter in my life. While remaining a cop, I will also be assigned and working in a “Cyber Security Defense Center” for an industry leading corporation. Although private, it is also contracted with the US Government as a backup to the nations internet infrastructure and security.

While I have immensely enjoyed writing “Behind the Badge” over the summer, and hope to continue doing so regularly again very soon, I will be taking a short hiatus as I get settled into this new position which will require some commute and travel. Until then I will continue to submit articles where and when I can.

As I look to the future and challenges yet to be experienced, I also find myself looking back. In going through old items acquired over the years, I came across an old 1839 want ad for the “Peels Police” in London UK. I had acquired a copy of this while attending the Chicago Police Academy many decades ago. Since then I have also found it on various police internet websites.

Modern policing has its roots in the “Peels Police” and it’s foundations. Sir Robert Peel is considered the father of policing and organization of police forces\departments. Many little things today tie back to this first police department. The phrase “bobby” which is a common nickname for British Police Officers is from the nickname of “Robert”, being “Bobby”. In addition, most if not all of our nations police departments wear a “blue” uniform, which is also tied to Peel”. The first major police department in the US was New York, and they modeled their uniform after “Peels Police” which wore blue uniforms, police departments coming afterward simply followed suit.

As I read through the 1839 job requirements, demands and duties I can’t help but think of how much has changed, but more important, how much has stayed the same. Directly or indirectly, in 1839 and still today police officers while being members of society as we are all, are also set aside and apart from the general public. Good or bad it is this one point that I think has set up an “us vs. them” mentality and attitude. An attitude that police officers and departments have spent the better part since then trying to disavow and break down.

With Officer friendly, DARE, Community Policing, Kids & Cops programs and the like. Effective policing truly is a team effort that requires the resources and dedication of both the public and the police.

As you read through the advertisement - think of how much this describes today’s modern policing. Avoidance of politics, set apart from the public, on or off duty your still the police in some form or fashion and expectations of public hostility, violence and injury.

I want you for PEEL’s Police - Circa 1839

  • You must be aged between 23 and 40 years of age.
  • You will be paid the following rates:
    • • CONSTABLE - 17s per week
    • • SERGEANT - £1.1s per week
    • • SUPERINTENDENT £3.10s per week
    • • CHIEF CONSTABLE £13.10s per week.
  • Working hours will be eight, ten or twelve hour shifts, seven days a week.
  • Every encouragement will be given to officers to grow beards as shaving is regarded as unhealthy. However, beards must not exceed two inches in length.
  • Uniform will be worn all the time to prevent accusations of spying on the public whilst in ordinary clothes. A duty band will be worn to indicate whether or not you are on duty.
  • You are NOT allowed to vote in elections.
  • Your must NOT gossip with the public. In particular avoid conversations with female servants or other women, on duty. Do not walk or converse with your comrades, merely exchange a word and pass on.
  • You will walk about 20 miles per shift.
  • No rest days are allowed and only one week holiday per annum, unpaid.
  • No meal breaks are allowed. The top hat may be used to hold a snack. You must inform the Superintendent before you associate, eat or drink with civilians.
  • Before attending for medical examination and interview to join the police, it is advisable to have a bath.
  • You are NOT allowed to sit down in public houses at any time.
  • You must expect a hostile reception from all sections of the public and be prepared to be assaulted, stoned or stabbed in the course of your duties.

About the Author: Al is a retired police detective from the metro Chicago area. He has been a Law Enforcement Officer at the City, County, State and Federal level in excess of 35 years. His career has taken him all over the nation and the world. Al has been involved in all aspects of criminal investigation as well as general police duties. He is once again on the street as an active LEO for a North Shore community, just North of Chicago in Illinois.


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