That the last month of the year calls for “Firsts in Policing”!!
Let’s start with the 1850s—when the first multi-shot pistol went into mass production, and was adopted by the Texas Rangers, and, thereafter, police departments nationwide. Also in the 1950s, San Francisco implemented one of the earliest uses of systematic photography for criminal identification (smile for the camera!).
In 1862 on June 17, inventor W. V. Adams patented handcuffs that used adjustable ratchets—the first modern handcuffs. Most handcuffs before then were “one size fits all” and caused pain to bigger boned prisoners and potential freedom to small-wristed detainees.
Next, in 1877, Albany, New York began use of the telegraph by fire and police departments, followed closely in 1878 when the telephone came into use in police precinct houses in Washington, D.C.
One year later, in 1888, Chicago became the first U.S. city to adopt the Bertillon system of identification. Alphonse Bertillon, a French criminologist, applied techniques of human body measurement used in anthropological classification to the identification of criminals. His system remained in vogue in North America and Europe until it was replaced at the turn of the century by the fingerprint method of identification.
Leap ahead to 1923, when the Los Angeles Police Department established the first police department crime laboratory in the United States. That same year the Pennsylvania State Police inaugurated the state-wide use of the teletype for law enforcement.
Five years later in 1928 the Detroit Police Department began using the one-way radio, and went on the air with call sign W8FS from its transmitter on Belle Island in the Detroit River. The worlds’ first police voice radio system was operational. It took another 6 years before two-way radio came into use—in the Boston Police Department.
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