Prior to 1855 the City of Norwich, Connecticut authorized
City Watches, off and on, for its protection. During the year 1855, a permanent
"Night Watch" was organized for the city. Its chief duties were to
light and extinguish the gas streetlights and generally "watch" and
"patrol" the city through the night.
On July 21st, 1865, the Court of Common Council of the City of
Norwich adopted a new city ordinance establishing a "Police Force." It
was designated the "Police Department of the City of Norwich." This
ordinance authorized and appointed Police Chief (who was unpaid), A Police
Captain (who actually ran the day-to-day operations), seven Patrolmen, and six
Supernumerary Patrolmen. Three members of the Court of Common Council were
appointed as Police Commissioners. They in turn appointed all members of the
On September 11th, 1865, the first members of the Norwich Police
Department appeared on the streets of Norwich "in dark blue uniforms, with
a badge on the cap, and a star on the breast." Zodac C. Crowell acted as
the first "Chief of Police" for the department. The Common Council
appropriated twenty-five dollars from the City Treasury to Z.C. Crowell to pay
for Buttons and Badges for the Police. The Council also instructed that the
Police Commissioners procure pistols to arm the Police.
In 1889, the position of Chief of Police became both active and paid
member of the Department. The
first paid Police Chief was John A. Bowen.
For the first 24 years, members of the department were elected annually by
the Court of Common council, until and act of the General Assembly in 1889
amended the City Charter. This provided for permanent employees, which
eliminated the politics of the annual appointments.
A "Police Manual" was published for members of the
force. It contained the "City Charter Amendment, Ordinance, and Rules"
organizing and regulating the Police Department. It also contained instructions
and information for the policemen. It defined their duties in order to
"secure uniformity of discipline and practice."
During this period, the Chief, Captain, Sergeants, and Patrolmen, wore a navy
blue, double-breasted flock coat with police buttons, and navy blue pants. The
Chief and Captain wore blue cloths caps, and the Sergeants and Patrolmen wore
helmets. All wore a "silver badge" upon the left breast. The equipment
included police belts, clubs, and pistols furnished by the City.
Officer Blinderman - Circa 1890