Pittsburgh, located in the center of Allegheny County where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers meet to form the Ohio River, was incorporated as a borough by an act dated April 22, 1794, the same year as the Whiskey Rebellion. The act provided for the election of two Burgesses, a High Constable, and a Town Clerk. We, in the Bureau of Police, trace our roots to Samuel Morrison, the first High Constable for the Borough of Pittsburgh. In March 18, 1816, Pittsburgh was formally incorporated as a city. Under this charter, the Mayor of Pittsburgh was elected by the council and was given the authority to appoint the High Constable and four City Constables. These constables were enjoined to preserve the peace, arrest all disorderly persons, and attend court, the market, and Councils. This was a daytime duty in which the Constables were paid by event rather than by salary. The Mayor was also given the power to appoint a night watch consisting of a Superintendent and twelve watchmen. The duties of the watchmen included the care of the oil, wick and utensils belonging to the city and the prevention of murders, robberies and other disorders.
Loss of tax revenues due to a depression in the City’s manufacturing and commerce enterprises caused the discontinuation of the night watch in April 1817. It was reestablished on March 26, 1836 by an act that authorized one Captain of the Watch, two Lieutenants of the Watch and sixteen watchmen for the purpose of establishing a system of police to secure the City’s citizens and their property. During this period, the constables continued to perform daylight duties on a non-salary basis. In December 1857, an ordinance was adopted that established a day-salaried police department consisting of one chief and not more than nine constables. On January 27, 1868, the dual system of day and night police was abolished and the present system was created. In 1868, the force was authorized not more than 100 women and men, one as the Chief of Police, one as Captain, and not more than eight as Lieutenants. Today, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is authorized 900 sworn law enforcement officers who proudly serve its 300,000+ residents.In 1915, Pittsburgh Police Officers Martin Toole and Delbert Nagle, with the support of Mayor Joseph G. Armstrong, organized Fort Pitt Lodge #1, the founding lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, to address police labor issues.
Coming to Pittsburgh gives you the opportunity to experience an area rich in cultural and ethnic diversity and history. We value our diverse communities, partnerships and cultural bridges we have built. We credit the safe environment enjoyed by our residents to the professionalism of our officers as well as the relationship we enjoy with the community. Every Pittsburgh Police Officer enjoys the privilege of wearing the City’s one-of-a-kind badge that signifies both our history and our pride. The shoulder patch was designed from the badge’s crest and is worn on the left sleeve of every Police Officer’s uniform.