The following is taken from "Ilion 1852-1952." We thank the Mayor and other officials of Ilion for granting us permission to provide this information to our visitors.


As the little village of 1850 grew, its citizens became increasingly aware of the necessity of protecting their welfare by proper police measures. This is evidenced by frequent changes in village ordinances and by-laws. Most of the provisions seem antiquated to us in 1952 such as the sale of fresh meat in the streets in quantities less than a carcass, the destruction of dogs found unmuzzled during "dog days", and a provision to keep cattle off the streets. A forerunner of modern traffic regulations may well have been the law that "no person shall suffer any carriage, wagon, cart, sleigh, or sled without horses to stand in any lane or street for more than one hour without written permission under penalty of $1.00 for each offense." Fire prevention was enacted through such ordinances as "pipes of Franklin or any other stoves are to be conducted into brick chimneys" and "no lighted candles are to be used in stables unless secured in a lantern." In 1889 the Chief of Police became the first uniformed policeman. The village purchased an overcoat for the Chief in 1895 at a cost not to exceed $24. He was required to turn it in at the end of his term for the use of the next chief. The first police station was a wooden building on Otsego Street used until the City Hall on Union Street was built. One of the duties of the policeman, after the position of lamplighter was abolished, was to turn off the street lights at 1 A. M. Another requirement was made for the wearing of rubber heels, the better to detect lawbreakers, no doubt. Since there were no telephones at this time, anyone desiring police service for any reason was obliged to call at headquarters. A wheelbarrow was always kept there as an aid in removing inebriates to the "lockup". Drunkeness and burglaries were common offenses in the 70's, 80's and 90's to judge by indignation expressed in newspapers. While Ilion was a temperance town in the 70's and liquor was sold only for medicinal pruposes, violation of the excise law caused the village authorities considerable time and effort. In 1909 a police signal system was installed and in use. The prison inspector commission at Albany issued orders in 1916 to remodel and enlarge the jail quarters. In consequence one new cell for women, isolated from the other cells, and a number of new cots for lodgers were installed. An interesting ordinance adopted in 1919 was that First Street to Morgan be a one way Street, traffic moving west with parking on one side of the street. A motorcycle officer was appointed to be properly uniformed in gray with brass buttons and badge (1920). About 1928 an ordinance gave the police power to regulate street parking. A prowl car with a short wave radio, tear gas guns, a new finger print outfit, police telephone call boxes, warning signs and flood lights were purchased in 1934.

Extensive training classes, under the supervision of the police judge and village attorney were attended in 1951 by members of the department on their off-duty hours.


The Volunteer Police was formed 3 days after Pearl Harbor as the result of an appeal made by Police Chief Jesse Babcock. 83 men volunteered. Police training and instruction in first aid were shortly followed by duty during blackouts. guard work, handling traffic at fires, etc. At the end of the war it was decided, by a suggestion of Mayor Oliver Coleman, that the unit continue its services to Ilion, which it has commendably performed in its 10 yer history. Similar units in the Mohawk Valley have been instructed by this group and aid rendered them on special occasions. There are, at present, 6 captains and a deputy chief under the supervision of the Chief of Police, and 21 patrolmen, all fully uniformed and equipped, of which 17 are original members. Four men assist the handling of traffic at specific times each day.

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Created 6/7/02
Updated: 11/22/02 Copyright © 2002 Paul McLaughlin/ Judy Breedlove/ Martha S. Magill
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