The New City Government January 1, 1898 Part III


The City's Law Department

The Corporation Counsel, an officer appointed by the Mayor, at a salary of $15,000 a year, bears the same relation to the law department as the controller does to the finance department. In addition to acting on behalf of the city in all actions, advising the Mayor and members of the Assembly regarding the rights of the city, he is ex-officio a member of the board of estimate, and has power to appoint assistant corporation counsel. He will have his head office in the Borough of Manhattan, but is obliged also to maintain an office in Brooklyn, and may, if he sees fit, also have offices in the three other boroughs. The head of the law department will establish bureaus for the special supervision of the legal rights of the city in regard to important matters, thus there will be a bureau to closely watch all operations in regard to the opening of streets, a bureau to facilitate the collection of penalties recovered by the city, and a bureau which will attend to the prompt payment of all arrears of taxes. Any other such divisions which may serve be make the working of the department effective, may be made at the discretion of the Corporation Counsel.

Whenever the City of New York is made the defendant in any action, the Supreme Court will have exclusive jurisdiction in the matter and all such actions will be tried within the County of New York. All papers regarding contemplated action must be served upon either the mayor, the controller or the corporation counsel, and no execution may be levied upon any property of the city until ten days shall have elapsed after a written notification to the controller that judgment has been recovered.

The Duties of the Police

The first reference to politics which is to be found in the charter relates to the composition of the board which is to direct the police department. This consists of four members, two being Democrats and two Republicans (or members, for that matter, of any other recognized political party). The commissioners are appointed by the mayor, for a term of four years, at a salary of $5,000 a year each. This board is solely responsible for the efficient administration of the Police Department. They will also be vested with all the powers in regard to the conduct of elections hitherto granted to the mayor and aldermen of the City of new York and the Board of Elections of the City of Brooklyn. The boards of police commissioners of the City of new York, the City of Brooklyn, Long Island City and the County of Richmond are, by the creation of this board, abolished. The park police and the New York and Brooklyn Bridge force are also transferred to their control. All members of the police force in every department of the cities above mentioned are transferred in the force of the enlarged city.

All members of the new force appointed in addition to those transferred must be citizens of the United States and in the case of patrolmen must be under 30 years of age. Increases to the staff may be made from time to time by the board with the approval of the Board of Estimate. None of the commissioners may become candidates for any elective office without first resigning their positions on the board.

The chief of police is charged with the assignment of the officers under him. He may suspend any officer without pay, pending investigation of charges, but in case such charges fail to be substantiated the member of the force who has been suspended is entitled to full pay for the entire term of his suspension.

One of the commissioners will act as treasurer and purchasing agent for the board, and will handle all moneys received from the controller for payment of salaries.

Suspensions, fines or dismissals, although they may be enforced by the board, may only be resorted to when written charges against any member of the police force have been submitted. No police office may receive any emolument or gratuity for police service other than his regular salary, although should a reward or present for special work be tendered him, the board may decide whether he can accept the gift. Between fifty and a hundred policemen will be placed at the disposal of the Board of Health and at least thirty of this number will see to the enforcement of laws relating to tenement and lodging houses.

In addition to the central police office in the Borough of Manhattan, there will be police headquarters in the Borough of Brooklyn. Elaborate provision is made for widows and orphans of policemen and also for aged members of the force by a police pension fund.

The proper conduct of elections will be relegated to the attention of special police bureaus located in each of the boroughs, under the management of a superintendent, who will be appointed for a term of five years, at a salary of $6,000 a year. His assistants in charge of the bureaus will be p aid as follows: Deputy in charge of elections in the Borough of Brooklyn, $4,000 a year; deputy for the Bronx, $1,500 a year; for Queens, $1,500 a year; for Richmond, $1,500 a year.

Protection From Fire

At the head of the Fire Department is the Fire Commissioner, appointed by the Mayor for six years, at a salary of $7,500 a year. He will appoint a deputy who will have an office in the Borough of Brooklyn, whence all directions relating to this borough and the Borough of Queens, will emanate. All firemen now employed under pay in the various boroughs consolidated will be retained, and will, as far as is practicable, be given the rank which they had reached prior to consolidation. Wherever a volunteer company existed prior to January 1, the commission will endeavor to establish a paid brigade, but until this scheme is perfected, the city will p ay to the volunteer companies sums equal to the amount which they have hitherto received from the municipality which they served.

Bureaus will be established by the fire commissioner, not only to prevent and extinguish fires, but also to store and sell combustible materials, and again, to investigate the origin of fires. In each case, a branch bureau will be located in the Borough of Brooklyn.

The chief of the Fire Department will receive a salary of $6,000 a year, and deputy chiefs from $3,500 to $4,500. Other salaries will range from $800, to $2,500, but all firemen of whatever grade who are drafted into the department by virtue of serving in any of the paid departments which were in existence prior to consolidation, will receive a salary equal to that which they received from the corporation which they formerly served. In the case of firemen, as of policemen, a relief fund and pension department is created.


Website: The History
Article Name: The New City Government January 2, 1898 Part III
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle January 2, 1898
Time & Date Stamp: