NYPD FORGOTTEN HISTORY
Chief Insp. Max Schmittberger and the NYPD’s First Major Reengineering Mission
Stuff They’ll Never Teach You at the Police Academy or You’ll Ever Get to See in the Police Museum
By Ret. Sgt. Michael E.J. Bosak [Wannabe Police Historian]
Over the years the department has always evolved and changed to every altering circumstances and threats to the safety and well being of New York citizens. Mostly is has been a slow gradual process as mayors changed from Tammany to reform and back to Tammany.
However, exactly a 100 years ago the department would go through it first major effort at reengineering. At the time it wasn’t called “reengineering.” But it was.
And it was carried out by a man who knew how to survive cutthroat politics and Tammany. A man who it was said was “honest” when he knew he had to be honest, and was “corrupt” when he knew he had to be corrupt.
It was also said; he had “a quiet demeanor and a dislike of publicity.” In this case, however, he was anything but quiet and reserved. Being a strict disciplinarian and an authoritarian totally focused of his mission also helped.
It would turn him from being, without any doubt, the most hated man in the history of policing New York City to being one of the department’s most appreciated and respected. He would truly become one of a handful of “NYPD Greats.” He would also become the founding father and charter member of the department’s ‘Honor Legion.’
On February 19, 2014 Deputy Chief Dennis E. Dequatro was appointed by Police Commissioner William Bratton as the department’s first ‘Reengineering Coordinator’ and assigned to the Police Commissioner’s Office.
What's more, William Bratton has brought back Louie Anemone [ ‘Chief of Department’ January 13, 1995 to July 9, 1999] as a paid consulted to make meaningful reforms to hopefully make enforcement activity more palatable to the people of New York City and to increase the efficiency of the department with anticipated future manpower levels remaining static.
Also, I know some of you old-timers clearly remember “Bratton I” when ‘CompStat’ and accountability truly came to the NYPD. The culture of the department was changed for the better. This effort would become the second major “reengineering” of the department.
Accountability became a fact – in all probability – for the first time in decades, if not generations of police officers.
Major changes were made. The first emphasis being on bringing homicides and shootings down, and locking up the bad guys and making sure they stayed in jail. James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling’s ‘Broken Windows’ theory was put into practice for the first time in the Big Apple.
A second and equally important goal became disorder control. Large riots and extensive looting had just recently occurred in Crown Heights and Washington Heights. For years, Harlem, the South Bronx and Brooklyn’s ghettoes had been burning to the ground.
The NYPD established the Disorder Control Unit and other improvements were made, such as having OCCB and the Detective Bureau coordinate their investigations with each other. (Hard to believe, they rarely ever use to share investigative information or even talk to each other.)
So under the personal supervision of Louis Anemone the ‘Disorder Control Unit’ was born. Planning for the mobilization of police officers was improved. Anemone beefed up the borough task forces and made the department more flexible in responding to wholesale crime and large disorders.
The department also acquired surplus military equipment such as Bearcat armored vehicles and a surplus U.S. Navy torpedo recovery ship – the USS Labrador TWR 681 – to transport 150 police officers around of New York City’s approximate 500 miles of waterfront.
For most of us who do not know the history of policing in New York City, this reform and sweeping re-organization of the way the NYPD operated in 1995 could very well have been considered the cloning of NYPD first true reengineering effort in 1914.
Ever since NYC’s first ‘Captain of Police’ Aaron Gilbert organized the New York City’s Watch Department [Known as the “City Watch,” not the “Nightwatch”] on November 25, 1783, the policing of New York City has basically been carried out in the same way for generations. Policing was the same whether it was carried out by the city’s Watch Department, Municipal Police, the Metropolitans, or for the NYPD. Patrol was patrol, and detective work was detective work.
Even the blotter entries in the city’s watch-houses and police stations were made exactly the same way as the British did when they occupied New York City during the Revolutionary War. Nothing had basically changed. And the department’s table of organization and command structure always remained essentially the same.
‘Chief Inspector’ Maximilian Francis Schmittberger [‘Chief of Department’February 18, 1909 to October 18, 1917] would change most of that almost exactly a hundred years ago in September of 1914.
And, hard to believe, Schmittberger did all that in such a grand way that he totally out screwy louied, “Screwy Louie” many times over.
Max Schmittberger was born in Wurzburg, Germany [Bavaria] on July 27, 1851.
He had a quiet demeanor and a dislike of publicity. However, he was particularly proud of his German heritage and the German people’s pride in order and discipline.
He believed police officers had a firm duty to adhere to the department’s ‘Rules & Procedures’ and to bravely face any adversity and perform their assigned duties.
He openly explained to the press his contingency plans for the department and the need for pre-planning.
Schmittberger’s hero was German Field Marshal Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke, who commanded the German Army during the Franco-Prussian War.
Helmuth von Moltke was the chief of staff of the Prussian Army for thirty years and is regarded as one of the greatest strategists of the 19th century, and was the originator of a new, more modern efficient method of directing armies in the field.
Schmittberger would bring Helmuth von Moltke preplanning to the NYPD as the basis for the department’s ‘Rapid Mobilization Plan.’
NOTE: World War I began July 28, 1914. The United States didn’t enter the war until April 6th, 1917. .
Schmittberger – having studied Von Moltke’s plans for invading France during the Franco-Prussian War – was so impressed with the German Army’s method of preplanning, and its flexibility to deal with changing conditions – that he totally bought into Von Moltke’s systemfor flexibility into emergency planning and applied them to the NYPD.
Also, up until this point [September 1914] the ‘Chief of Department’s Office and most of NYPD’s parent commands were not staffed 24 x 7. Schmittberger changed all that.
He made provisions for supplying water and food for up to 2 million civilians in the case of some emergency, and for the orderly evacuation of the city if necessary, based on the panics that had set in in Europe when large armies approached their enemy’s cities.
He established police machine gun companies and NYPD rifle companies in all five boroughs.
Furthermore, he instituted twice monthly close order mass cavalry drills for the department based on the U.S. Army’s cavalry manual.
Massed cavalry charges involving 300 horses and close order mounted and dismounted disorder drills were now regularly practiced in Central Park, with Brooklyn and Queens commands having their own twice Sunday mornings monthly drills that involved massed 200 horse cavalry charges.
Close order crowd control practice was also perfected in both Prospect and Central Parks.
And let’s not forget Harbor. Remember, back in 1994 Chief of Department Louie Anemone got that surplus 102 foot long U.S. Navy torpedo recovery ship, the USS Labrador, to transport cops around New York waterways and to act as a floating command post.
Note: Louie even sent the Labrador out to East Moriches, Long Island in July of 1996 for the TWA Flight 800 disaster to act as a command post in the Atlantic Ocean for Suffolk County and NYPD SCUBA divers. Suffolk County PD didn’t appreciate the offer and turned the NYPD’s offer down. They sent the NYPD’s floating command post back to the city.
For harbor patrol, Schmittberger had the NYPD’s ‘Patrol II,’ whose length was a whopping 143 feet, 6 inches long with a beam of 23 feet. At almost twice the Labrador’s tonnage, it dwarfed Anemone’s 102 foot long converted torpedo recovery ship and anything the department has had before or since.
Not to get too far off the beaten path, but we have to get into a little of the history of the Patrol II, Max Schmittberger and ‘Superintendent of Police’ Thomas Byrnes [Chief of Department April 1st, 1892 to May 27, 1895] before moving on.
In 1894, Capt. Max Schmittberger – after getting caught red handed taking a $500 bribe from the French Steamship Company to station two patrolmen on the Cunard Line pier every time one of the French Steamship Co. ships came into New York – rolled over and agreed to testify at the N.Y.S. Lexow Commissioner Hearings into corruption on the NYPD.
Schmittberger, who would become the department’s most notorious or famous ‘bag man,’ gave up the NYPD system for collecting graft from prostitution, illegal gambling and unlicensed saloons and wholesale liquor dealers and the department’s ranking officers who benefited from it . Schmittberger’s testimony in the grand jury, criminal court and the trail room doomed the careers of dozens, if not scores of ranking NYPD officers.
It made him the most hated man on the NYPD.
As a result of Schmittberger’s testimony, many NYPD ‘inspection districts’ or divisions that should have been commanded by inspectors, were commanded by captains. Six (6) precincts ended up having sergeants in command [Today’s rank of lieutenant] and the other precincts had more captains in command that had been indicted, suspended, demoted or arrested than commands that had captains that had been cleanly promoted to the rank of captain without ever being collared, suspended, demoted or dismissed from the department.
Schmittberger did, however, testify under oath that he knew of only one honest cop on the entire job, and that honest cop was none other than ‘Superintendent of Police’ Thomas Byrnes.
Schmittberger was a Tammany Democrat. Byrnes was a Republican and lifelong member of the New York Yacht Club. Byrnes very rarely socialized with other police officers. But he did maintain close personal relationships with the Astors, the Vanderbilts, the Carnegies and the Goulds. (Jay Gould was Thomas Byrnes personal banker.)
If you can remember back to your high school American History days, most of Thomas Byrnes acquaintances and close associates would be classified as “Robber Barons” and Wall Street tycoons. Thomas Byrnes knew who buttered the bread.
BTW Byrnes got the Republicans in Albany to change his title to “Chief of Police” from “Superintended of Police.” It was an ego thing.
He also did this before in April of 1892, when holding the rank of “Inspector” as “Chief of Detectives.”
“Superintend of Police” William Murray had gone extended sick. [Chief of Department June 9, 1885 to April 1, 1892] and Byrnes had been named acting “Superintendent of Police.”
Byrnes through his Republican hooks had legislation passed in Albany lawfully changing his title to, “Chief Inspector,” because he was performing two jobs: “Chief of Detectives” and “Acting Superintendent of Police,” both at the same time while holding the Civil Service rank of “Inspector.” That legislation established that new civil service rank on the NYPD.
Tammany and most ranking officers on the department made most of their graft from prostitution, gambling and shaking down licensed and unlicensed premises that served alcohol.
Byrnes was much more sophisticated; he made his money from supplying protection and favors to Wall Street types, industrialists and the mega rich. Byrnes would become the riches uniformed member of the service to have ever lived. Factoring in for inflation, Byrnes, today, would be worth tens of millions.
When Teddy Roosevelt forced Byrnes to retired, Byrnes’ annual salary as Superintend of Police was $6,000 a year. Byrnes had over $200,000 in the bank and owned well over a dozen commercial properties in Midtown and lower Manhattan.
Under oath at the Lexow Commissioner hearings, Byrnes couldn’t give an exact accounting of his wealth or how he obtained it. He testified that he just handed over his monthly salary checks to Jay Gould, and Gould invested the money for him. He said Jay Gould made him over $300,000 investing in railroad stocks. When he needed money, Gould just gave it to him. Byrnes wasn’t questioned further.
BTW years later Jay Gould would publicly admit to paying over $200,000 in bribes to NYPD police officers over the years. At Byrnes death in 1910, just one of his commercial buildings located on the southeast corner of 5 Avenue and 46 Street was valued at $550,000.
Back to Harbor’s Patrol II
Byrnes, personally owned two yachts himself – one a steamer and the other a sail – and had the Patrol II built to his own personal specifications. The steel hulled twin-screw steamboat was built in 1893 at Sparrow Point, Maryland and was one of the fastest and most modern boats for its day.
She was the biggest boat the NYPD ever had and dwarfed anything the NYPD or FDNY had for the next 50 years. As a matter of fact, she weighed as almost twice as heavy the department’s former U.S. Navy torpedo recovery ship. And she could also pump 50,000 gallons of water per hour to put out fires.
But more important she was luxurious. The pilot house was large and roomy and paneled in mahogany. Aft of the pilot house there was a large smoking room, also furnished in mahogany, with sofas and tables. The upper deck was completely covered with an awning so one wouldn’t get sunburned.
She also had a dining room and a saloon with handsome sofas and a large center table, not to mention a 20 x 12 foot stateroom also paneled in mahogany. The two master bedrooms had running water with private bathrooms and were furnished in butternut. All those rooms were also carpeted in velvet.
Directly aft of these luxurious accommodations was the mess for the police crew, storerooms, pantry, ice chest and galley, all paneled in ash.
The engine room was finished in red oak and brass. The lower deck for the ‘white shield slime’ was trimmed in hard wood with the ceilings and walls painted white.
Byrnes used the Patrol II to extensively entertain his Wall Street buddies, politicians and other VIPs of the era.
Surprisingly, when Theodore Roosevelt became ‘President of the Board of Police Commissioners,’ [NYPD Police Commissioner May 6th, 1895 to April 19th, 1897] he took no interest, one way or the other, in the Patrol II. During his tenure as president of the Board of Police Commissioners, it was like the boat didn’t even exist. The Patrol II was just tied to Harbor Precinct A’s dock at Pier A and never used. [The NYPD had 3 Harbor Precincts: A, B and C)
Later when ‘Big Bill’ Devery – the first owner of the N.Y. Yankees and the last person on the NYPD to hold the title of ‘Chief of Police’ [Chief of Department:June 30th, 1898 to February 21st, 1901] became NYPD’s ‘Chief of Police’ – much to the chagrin of the New York Times – Devery loaded the Patrol II up with partying provisions, family and friends and used it to sail the Long Island Sound for extended weekends during the summer. By the way, Devery’s best bud, retired Insp. Alexander “Clubber” Williams often accompanied him on these extended weekend excursions.
He also frequently docked it at his Cos Cob, Connecticut summer estate, which consisted of a 17 room mansion. Devery had a dock and a jetty specifically built for the ‘Patrol II’ for $37,000. The jetty extended out a160 yards into Long Island Sound.
And he did all this on a salary of $6,500 annually and still had enough money left over to buy a baseball team that would eventually become the New York Yankees.
NOTE: Devery and Thomas Byrnes were not friends and did not socialize in the same circles. Also, Devery – at one time like Schmittberger – was one of Clubber Williams’ bag men.
Schmittberger, after he became ‘Chief Inspector’ in 1909 would change all that. He turned the Patrol II into a real police boat. Gone were the luxurious accommodations and the leisure cruises. It would now be used to do real police work.
In 1915, courtesy of the U.S. Navy, the ‘Patrol II’ went to the Brooklyn Navy Yard to be refitted.
She was outfitted with four (4) .30 cal. belt fed machine guns capable of firing 400 rounds per minute. She also got two (2) three pounder rapid fire Hotchkis naval guns with range finders.
The guns - one mounted forward and one mounted aft – were capable of accurately firing 35 rounds per minute at a target 2,000 yards away. The department now bragged that it could sink just about any ship that was up to no good in New York Harbor from 2 miles away.
Schmittberger also double the manpower assigned to Harbor’s three precincts and increased the number of patrol launches to ten (10). All the launches were now also equipped with .30 cal. belt fed machine guns.
The NYPD was now ready for war.
Maximilian Francis Schmittberger (July 27, 1851 - October 31, 1917)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Max Schmittberger was born in Wurzburg, Germany in July of 1851 and his family migrated to the New York City when he was four years old. He got a NYC public school education and worked in several different occupations before becoming an NYPD patrolmanon January 8th, 1874. As a patrolman, he was first assigned to the 1st Precinct and then transferred to the elite Broadway Squad.
Two years later in 1876, the commanding officer of the Tenderloin Precinct [West 30th Street Station House], Capt. Henry Steers picked him up and promoted him to detective. He was one of precinct’s two ‘Wardmen.’
Note: The boundaries for the precinct that was known as the Tenderloin Precinct were 14th Street to 42nd Street; Park Ave. to 8th Avenue. It had several different numeral designations during the 19th century – the most famous being the “two – nine” or the “nineteenth.” It was also the NYPD most prolific grafting command with over an estimated 3,000 French and Irish prostitutes plying their trade within its confines. It also had an estimated 300 saloons and illegal gambling establishments. Any vice or illegal activity you could possibly think of was available 24 x 7 there. Just about every man who would go on to obtain NYPD highest uniform rank, at one time or another, passed through that command as its commanding officer. Schmittberger, like Clubber Williams and ‘Big Bill’ Devery, as captains, would also be its commanding officer.
Promoted to ‘Roundsman’: April 2nd, 1880
Promoted to ‘Inspector’: March 2nd, 1903
Promoted to ‘Borough Inspector’ (Brooklyn): Nov. 18, 1908
Promoted to ‘Chief Inspector’: February 18, 1909
He served as ‘Chief Inspector’ [Chief of Department] under six (6) different Police Commissioners: Gen. Theodore Bingham, William Baker, James Cropsey, Rhinelander Waldo, Douglas McKay and Arthur Woods.
He also was awarded the department’s highest medal for valor, the “Medal of the Department” [Later renamed the ‘Medal of Honor’] and two ‘Honorable Mentions,’ the department’s second highest medal for heroism.
Max Schmittberger would be one of only two ‘Chief of Department’ to die while holding the highest uniform rank on the department. He passed away at his residence 237 East 61st Street in Manhattan on October 31st, 1917. He was married – his wife passing before him – and he had 8 children.
Max Schmittberger as a detective was one of Capt. Alexander ‘Clubber’ Williams ‘Wardmen’ in the Tenderloin precinct. He was with ‘Clubber’ and Ptl. John McDowell in Bernard Courtney’s Saloon; 315 7th Avenue at 2:45 a.m. on the morning of January 8th, 1877, when a burglar by the name of George Flint with two others not apprehended came through the skylight to burglarize the premise.
First a little background: McDowell and Schmittberger were both Captain Williams’ bagmen. Bernard Courtney ran this illegal after hours club behind his legal tobacco shop.
Bernard Courtney and the ‘President of the Board of Police Commissioners’ John C. Sheehan, at one time or another were either the president or the director of the ‘Pequod Club’ at various times over the years. It was a club for only the wealthiest and most influential Tammany Hall members. [Google it]
During the Lexow Commission hearings, (1894) it was determined that captaincies and inspectorships were sold by Sheehan and others at the Pequod Club.
‘Clubber’ was also a member of the Pequod Club, among numerous other high ranking members of the department. Membership assured you wealth.
Back to the chase: According to court testimony, all three – McDowell, Schmittberger and Williams – were in civilian clothes and had been drinking heavily. At this point, all were comatose or sleeping in various positions from drink.
When McDowell came to, he saw what was going on. In the struggle, he got shot by a ball from a black powered flintlock pistol behind the left ear. He survived.
McDowell was awarded a silver medal that came to be known as the “McDowell Medal.” It was minted by Tiffany & Co. Jewelers. The famous interlocking “NY” on the medal would later become the famous “NY” on the Yankees’ uniform and McDowell Medal would also become the “Yankees Captain’s Medal of Valor,” which is no longer given out by the department.
‘Chief of Police William Devery’ was the first owner of the N.Y. Yankees with a known gambler, Frank Farrell. Devery, at one time was one of Williams’ bagmen, and they became close personal friends. That’s how the “NY” became the Yankee logo. That’s the connection from McDowell to the Yankees. Both McDowell and Devery were bagmen for Williams.
Later Schmittberger, as a captain, would also work for Inspector Alexander Williams as his bag man. Williams was now ‘Chief of Police’ Thomas Byrnes X.O. when Schmittberger got caught taking bribes and setting up a pad for the French Steamship Co. That’s why he rolled over for the Lexow Commission and agreed to testify.
Another extremely famous police officer who was extremely close with ‘Clubber’ Williams was Giuseppe ‘Joseph’ Petrosino. Although I have no proof, Petrosino also had to work for Williams as one of his bag man. Petrosino also worked with Charlie Becker in the Tenderloin Precinct.
In October of 1879, Williams as C.O. of the Tenderloin Precinct was indicted by a grand jury for felony assault. (He beat the changes. Not his first time and certainly not his last. Williams accumulated a total of 297 trips to the trial room or criminal court for excessive use of force or assault.)
Williams was then transferred from the 29 Precinct to the NYPD’s ‘Street Cleaning Bureau’ as its commanding officer. There he met Giuseppe Petrosino, who worked on NYPD garbage scows as a “raker.” Most of the rakers on the garbage scows were Italian and spoke very little English.
Williams had two problems when he was with the ‘Street Cleaning Bureau.’ The Italian workers complained that ‘Clubber’ was charging them one to four dollars a month for the privilege of ‘trimming’ the garbage. (Shoveling it on and off the scows) Petrosino took care of Clubber’s labor problems.
His second problem was with the Brooklyn P.D. Clubber would dump New York City’s garbage off of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn or into Sheepshead Bay in the dead of night. Hopefully in a heavy fog. To make a long story short, Petrosino excelled at fighting, and he knew how to make the rakers fight. ‘Clubber’ put Petrosino in change of the rakers during the battles. Things at times got pretty heated with both the NYPD and Brooklyn police fighting some fierce pitched battles as the rakers shoveled like hell.
Williams became Petrosino’s hook and friend.
When Williams was transferred back to the 29 Precinct he took Petrosino with him. Petrosino was appointed a patrolman on October 19, 1883. Max Schmittberger was Petrosino’s roundsman [sergeant] and Clubber was his captain.
Even after Giuseppe Petrosino was promoted to roundsmen, he stayed assigned to the West 30th Street Precinct. Petrosino spent 13 years working out of the Tenderloin. He would also work for Captain “Big Bill” Devery, after Devery was assigned there as its commanding officer. Draw your own conclusion!
After Schmittberger somewhat truthful testimony at the Lexow Commission hearings, Theodore Roosevelt had Schmittberger’s department changes dismissed. And he talked New York County District Attorney John Fellows into dismissing Schmittberger’s criminal indictment.
Schmittberger, however, was now a marked man. His testimony had destroyed the upper ranks of the NYPD and he was hated. Bill Devery was his biggest enemy.
When Teddy Roosevelt left the department on April 19, 1897, and Big Bill Devery reappointed back to the department, Schmittberger would soon be toast.
Note: Devery just never showed up in court or the trail room. Devery had his dismissal from the department overturned by a friendly Tammany judge. And the Manhattan District Attorney just never persecuted him.
Schmittberger would now get some severe NYPD travel therapy. As a captain, he was transferred on a regular basis every few months. Schmittberger without a doubt holds the record of being the captain who commanded of the most NYPD precincts – well over two (2) dozen precinct commands when I stopped counting.
He was the commanding officer of just about every Bronx precinct with most of the in-between stops in Staten Island and what today would be Brooklyn South.
You have to realize New York City had no highway system or subways. There was no East River Drive or Westside Highway. The principle means of transportation was the horse. And at the time, the only bridge over the East River was the Brooklyn Bridge.
So Schmittberger played the good soldier and waited for Devery to leave.
Devery obliged Schmittberger on January 1st, 1902 after taking a collar as NYPD first ‘First Deputy Police Commissioner’ under today’s system.
On March 2nd, 1903 Max Schmittberger was promoted to ‘Inspector.’ His problems, however, were far from over.
In 1906, Police Commissioner Gen. Theodore A. Bingham [Police Commissioner: January 1, 1906 - July 1, 1909] made no secret of his dislike for Max Schmittberger. He openly stated that he was going to get him.
Schmittberger was the inspector and commanding officer of the 3rdInspection District which comprised the Westside of Manhattan from 14th Street all the way up to 86th Street.
At this point let me give you the command structure of the job, so you can comprehend how high Schmittberger had risen.
There were a total of 14 inspectors on the entire job, which included one ‘Chief Inspector,’ three (3) ‘Borough Inspectors’ and ten (10) ‘Inspectors.’
The three borough commands consisted of Manhattan East, Manhattan West and Brooklyn.
The two Staten Island precincts, along with Manhattan’s 1st Precinct were part of the ‘1st Inspection District.’ The Bronx was Manhattan East’s ‘6thInspection District.’ Queens was an ‘Inspection District’ under the Brooklyn Borough command. Later Staten Island would become ‘Patrol Borough Brooklyn West / Staten Island’ and the Bronx and Queens would become ‘Patrol Borough Bronx / Queens.’
Deputy Police Commissioner William Mathot, who was the prosecutor in the trail room, and Charles Becker, along with two detective sergeants cooked up a plot to frame Schmittberger in September of 1906. They raided four gambling houses in Schmittberger’s 3rdInspection District and claimed that their investigation had revealed that Schmittberger was being paid protection money to let those gambling houses stay open.
Deputy Police Commissioner Mathot had Schmittberger charged with “Conduct unbecoming an officer, neglect of duty, conduct injurious to the public peace and welfare, and neglect and disobedience of orders and regulations.” The department was looking to fire Schmittberger.
Now, as I said before, many captains and inspectors during this time period had been arrested for bribe receiving, grafting and/or extortion. None had even been suspended for a minute or lost their command. Those that escaped punishment had all had been in good graces with Tammany. Schmittberger wasn’t.
Schmittberger knew that there was a good possibility that he be dismissed from the department with no pension, so he hired former Brooklyn District Attorney Martin W. Littleton to defend him.
It has to be noted here of what happened to ‘Headquarters Inspector’ William Jameson [2nd highest rank on the department] for his absence of 3 hours [6 p.m. to 9 p.m.] from the ‘Central Office of Police,’ 300 Mulberry Street on April 14th, 1872.
First a little history on William Jameson: Jameson was a hero of the Mexican American War. He joined the ‘Crystal Palace Police when that police department was organized for New York City 1853 World’s Fair. The Crystal Palace and the World’s Fair were located on what today is the site of the 42nd Street Library and Bryant Park.
When the World’s Fair ended, Jameson then did a lateral transfer to the Metropolitan PD and rose to the rank of captain.
When the Civil War broke out in 1861, he resigned from the Metropolitans and joined the 38th Regiment (Infantry) New York Volunteers as an enlisted man. He served in the infantry for the entire duration of the war and had been wounded. At the conclusion of the war, he returned to New York as a colonel and the commanding officer of the regiment.
Superintendent John A. Kennedy allowed him to be reinstated to the department with his old rank and he was given command of the 1stPrecinct. He subsequently was promoted to Inspector and given command of the 1st and 2nd Inspection Districts, which at the time was all of Manhattan south of 86th Street.
He had 19 years of police service without a single complaint or department charges when he was fired and lost his pension.
The three hour AWOL was really not the reason Insp. Jameson lost his job.
On March 12, 1872 a group of hired Irish thugs and shoulder hitters known as the ‘Lynch Boys’ took over the offices and board room of the Erie Railroad on West 23rd Street and 8th Ave.
There had been a war going on for control of the Erie R.R. for some time involving Jim Frisk, Jay Gould and Cornelius Vanderbilt. All sorts of shenanigans had taken place, including watering down of the stock and financial tom foolery.
Insp. Jameson was in charge of a 200 man detail that failed to stop those thugs from taking over the offices and board room of the Erie R.R. As a result of this control of the Erie R.R. changed hands.
It was also reported that because of Jameson’s failure to stop the takeover of the board room, William Marcy Tweed, who had a large monetary interest in the outcome of who controlled the Erie, lost a considerable amount of money.
Incidentally, Tweed at one time had been a director of the Erie railroad.
Back to the chase. Schmittberger’s defense attorney made mince meat of Becker and the two detectives sergeants. All had prior to this trial been brought up on charges by Schmittberger at one time or another for various offenses and all three had been found guilty in the trail room and lost time. Their hatred of Schmittberger was well known.
Littleton, did his homework. He found out that one of the detective sergeants had recently been collared up in Westchester and had never reported it to the department. He got that sergeant to contradict and perjure himself on the stand.
He also got a sworn, signed affidavit from Theodore Roosevelt on White House Stationary, attesting to Schmittberger’s honesty and integrity introduced into evidence.
The Rev. Charles Pankhurst, the founding father of the ‘Citizen’s Crime Commissioner’ also went to bat for Schmittberger.
Lincoln Steffens, the famous author, reporter and muckraker testified that the Police Commission Theodore Bingham had told him that he was going to get Schmittberger one way or the other.
Bingham had no choice; he had to throw the charges against Schmittberger out.
Deputy Police Commissioner William Mathot submitted his resignation immediately after the trail, which was accepted by General Bingham with no comment.
Later Bingham would change his opinion about Schmittberger and would promote him to ‘Chief Inspector.’
And poor Lieut. Charlie Becker, he would go to the electric chair for the murder of gambler Herman Rosenthal, who had threatened to testify in a Manhattan grand jury about the department’s system for taking graft.