Scientific American, April 23, 1881
THE CHICAGO POLICE TELEPHONE AND PATROL SYSTEM
From time to time during the past year mention has been made in tbis paper of the inception and development of the police telephone and patrol system in operation in Chicago.A recent visit of our artist to that city enables us now to lay hefore the remlers of the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN the accompanying illustrations of the apparatus employed in this very important application of elect ricity to the mechanism of civil life and civic government.
In every American city the police departments have been prompt to make use of the systems of electric communication which have been set up for social and commercial purposes; and in several instances special telegraphic or telephonic lines have been established for purely civic uses; but Chicago takes the lead in adopting electricity and electric communication as an essential factor of the police system, making it, perhaps, the most important and efficient element of the police service. When the entire area of the city shall have been covered by the system the analogy between the civic organization and the nervous organization of an individual animal will be curiously complete. The civic organization will become sensitive, so to speak, at every point, and the transmission of intelligence therefrom to the brain and subordinate nervous ganglia — that is, the central and district police stations — will be practically instantaneous.
THE CHICAGO POLICE TELEPHONE AND PATROL SYSTEM.
April 23, 1881
The object of the system is twofold : to increase the promptness and efficiency of police attendance incasesof emergency, and to lessen the number of patrolmen and the consequent expense of the police force. The urgent need of a public watchman or constable at any particular point in any American community is altogether exceptional, and the tendency is therefore to give the policeman a long beat to traverse. The chances are that he will beoutofthe way when an accident happens; and evil-doers may take advantage of his known absence to disturb the peace or invade the property rights of citizens. To provide against such exigencies by largely increasing the number of policemen is obviously much less economical than to quicken the working of the police system by putting every patrolman within the reach of instant communication with the substation to which he is attachment or if ueed be with the central station or police headquarters, at the same time giving every orderly citizen, in case’of need, the means of calling upon the same authorities with the least delay.
This is just what the Chicago system aims to do. At convenient points district stations are established, with relays of policemen and a horse and wagon always in attendance. The wagon carries a stretcher, blankets, and other appliances for receiving and properly treating sick or injured persons, lost children, or persons accused of crime. In telephonie connection with the district stations are public alarm stations, like sentry boxes, placed at suitable points along the streets. As will be seen in the large illustration, the alarm boxes are just large enough to hold one man, who may lock himself in should privacy or special security be an object. Keys to these alarm boxes are furnished to respectable citizens and are carried by all policemen, who also carry a releasing key, by means of which the general key can be withdrawn from the lock. This is to secure the attendance of the person giving the alarm and prevent possible trifling with the system, each key being numbered and the holder’s name registered.
The artist has chosen an accident for illustration. The moment of such an occurrence the nearest citizen holding a key hastens to the alarm box, and by depressing the lever which projects from the signal box transmits the arbitrary call for help to the district station. Instantly a detail of three men with the patrol wagon hasten to the point whence the signal came. If the policeman of the post is near he unlocks the inside signal box, shown in Fig. 2, and communicates with the district station by means of the telephone hanging within. The specific character of the disturbance which gives rise to the alarm, whether fire, accident, riot, or what not, can also be signaled mechanically by moving the lever to the proper position. It is proposed ultimately to have an alarm bell at each signal station, so that in cases of emergency the police may be instantly called to the telephones for instructions from the district or central stations.
In the meantime every officer while on duty is required to report by telephone, hourly or half hourly, the state of affairs on his beat ; and his movements can be readily watched or directed by the chief of his station.
Chicago Police Call Box, 1880’s
(Left) Alarm Box, with door closed, showing hook at the side. for use by citizens in sending an alarm to Police Station
(Center) Alarm Box. with the door open showing the Signal Box, with dial for different calls, and telephone for use of Patrolmen in communicating with Police Station.
(Right) Enlarged view of Signal Box, for use in the alarm boxes, private residences, banks. business houses. etc., with full directions for use.
The system contemplates also the placing of signal boxes in private houses and places of business, either with or without telephonic connection. In the latter case the directions for the mechanical signals are given on the dial, as shown in Fig. 3. When a signal box is placed in a private residence a key of the house is left at the station under seal. When a night call is made — for burglary, for instance — the policeman answering the call takes the key and is thus able to surprise the intruder.
At present the number of alarm stations established in Chicago is about one hundred, and it is expected that the number will be more than doubled during th e year. The practical working of the syst em is said to be in the highest degree satt sfactory. The efficiency of the p olice in the districts covered has been nearly doubled, judging by the number of arre?ts made, while there has been a marked decrease in the number of crimes reported.
The system requires no great outlay in its first establishment, and its running expenses tire very small. This makes it especially desirable for small towns having few officers for the territory covered. By means of the house and street alarm boxes the citizens can summon instant assistance should it be needed, thus enabling a few officers to do the work of many.
The Box, or House complete with door open. showing Alarm Box with Telephone. etc.. and
with Lamp on top, thus taking the place of iron lamp post.
Loop Locations of Call Boxes in 1887
In front of No. 20 Van Buren Street.
Corner of State and Van Buren Streets.
Corner of Michigan Avenue and Adams Street.
Corner of Michigan Avenue and Madison Street.
Corner of Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street.
Corner of Michigan Avenue and South Water Street.
Corner of Rush Street Bridge.
Corner of State Street Bridge.
Comer of Clark and Van Buren Streets.
Corner of Clark and Adams Streets.
Corner of State and Adams Streets.
Cumer of State and Madison Streets.
Corner of Clark and Madison Streets.
Comer of Clark and Randolph Streets.
Cornes of State and Randolph Streets.
Corner of Clark and South Water Streets.
Corner of Market and Van Buren Streets.
Corner of Fifth Avenue and Adams Street.
Corner of Madison Street and Fifth Avenue.
Corner of Market and Madison Streets.
Corner of Fifth Avenue and Randolph Street.
Corner of South Water Street and Fifth Avenue.
Corner of Market and Lake Streets.
In 1887, there are 473 of these boxes placed at the most prominent street corners throughout the city; an average of 25 boxes to each wagon
Chicago Police Patrol Wagon
A Patrol Box Arrest
Sources: Andreas, Alfred Theodore — History of Chicago. From the Earliest Period to the Present Time — 1884
Annual Report of the Chicago Police Department 1887