The New York City Police Museum: 16mm Film Collection Revealed
Introduction As a final project for the Introduction to Moving Image Archiving and Preservation course, I worked with a collection of unidentified films at the New York City Police Museum. These films have remained in storage, untouched for nearly a decade since the Museum moved out of the Police Academy, illustrating the Museum’s chronic lack of resources and thus the limitations with which the staff is forced to approach cataloguing and preservation. I viewed the films through an arrangement with the Cinema Studies Study Center, occupying the CineScan for hours at a time. In identifying and describing the films’ content as well as their overall condition, I determined which films appear to have enduring value for the Police Department, the Museum, or both, and their potential for exhibits or licensing. I also noted those films whose footage does not reflect the Museum or its mission. Recognizing the films’ value, or lack thereof, for the Museum, I offer suggestions for their retention, preservation, and future use.
My paper is divided into five sections. To better appreciate the film collection and its current condition, a history of the New York City Police Department as well as the Police Museum is valuable. The first two sections provide the histories of the Department and the Institution from their beginnings through the present day. The third section addresses the status of the Museum today, whether that of independent museum or unit of the Police Department and the differences this distinction creates in user accessibility of Museum materials and records. The fourth section addresses specifics of the film collection and my work with the film. The results of some of my research into several films I believe have enduring value for the Museum are also included. In the fifth section I provide suggestions for the future research, preservation, and retention of the collection’s films.
A History of the Department: The New York City Police Department Then and Now The New York City Police Department may be, according to the Police Museum’s website, the largest police force in the world, but it is certainly not the oldest. One must imagine that in 2000 BCE when Hammurabi’s code of laws was inscribed, some form of policing existed to impose the new decrees. Records suggest that in sixth century Paris night watchmen patrolled the streets of Paris. Eight hundred years later, the fourteenth-century French king Charles V likely organized the first official civilian police force. Its enforcement, though, was directed at securing royal control rather than societal justice and peace. In the seventeenth century under Oliver Cromwell, the English established a mounted unit, but towards the middle of the century replaced the equine cavalry with day and night foot patrol.1
It was around this same time that New York City, then New Amsterdam, having been founded by the Dutch in 1625, received its first official police patrol. A Schout Fiscal, or Sheriff Attorney, was employed to maintain regulations imposed by the Dutch West India Company. The Schout-Fiscal was hired to resolve disagreements, maintain peace, and notify residents of fires, common in a budding town where rapid construction relied on timber. Because the Schout-Fiscal patrolled only during the daytime, a team of night watchmen equipped with rattles monitored the town.2
When New Amsterdam fell to the British in 1664, the Schout Fiscal and the night watchman were replaced with British troops. In 1783 the last of the royal troops left the city and a local police force was established, comprised of one captain and twenty-eight men, on duty only at night. This new patrol was extremely insufficient. By 1786, New York City boasted over 25,000 residents. With an increase in immigration and inevitable overcrowding as a result, crime rates steadily rose. In 1789 the city hired twenty new watchmen. Within two years, another captain, two deputies, and twenty-four new men had been added to the force. Yet because their pay was minimal, many members of the night guard held daytime jobs, only to arrive at their post exhausted and unprepared for hours of vigilant watching. As an incentive to stay awake, bonuses were offered for “good arrests.”3 Because there was no official uniform, night watchmen performed their job incognito, often making it difficult for civilians to distinguish their protectors from ordinary citizens.
During the daytime there was an equally insufficient patrol system in place. Though constables appointed by the government guarded individual sections of the city, little concern was paid to lower-class neighborhoods. It was Jacob Hays, appointed High Constable in 1802 and considered a “police force all himself,” who first exhibited an interest in the welfare of the poor, serving as guardian of the peace, conciliator, record keeper, and detective without giving advantage to those with money. With nearly 350,000 residents in 1843, the city’s patrol units consisting of the thirty-one constables, one hundred marshals, sixteen day policemen, and night watchmen combined to form a single department. A year later, the city government proposed the Municipal Police Act of 1844, eliminating the night watchmen and daytime constable service and introducing a twenty-four hour police patrol, the two hundred members of which would be appointed by the Mayor of New York. A revised Act was instituted in 1845, quadrupling the original number of servicemen to eight-hundred full-time police and firemen. Rather than a standard uniform, a copper badge worn on the left side of their shirt distinguished policemen from civilians. Despite the badge, because it was still difficult to distinguish police from civilians, station houses were scattered throughout the city providing a point whereby officers could be reached easily.4
Quelling riots and dispersing unruly crowds were among the new responsibilities of the nascent police force. In 1849, only five years after they officially appeared on the scene, the municipal police faced their first large demonstration. When James Macready, an English actor, arrived in New York to perform at the Astor Place Theatre, an inhospitable mob welcomed him to the city in response to popular American actor Edwin Forrest’s recent disappointment with his own reception by the English on a visit to London. Throngs of theatre-goers, nationalists, and New Yorkers merely looking for an excuse to fight stormed the Astor Place theatre on the night of one of Macready’s scheduled performances. Thousands waited outside throwing stones at the theatre and at the three hundred and twenty officers stationed there. Brandishing no weapons, the police were simply targets of the mob’s violence. State militia arrived and, seeing no other option, shot a round of bullets into the sky hoping to quiet the protestors. When this was unsuccessful, the troops fired into the crowd, injuring two. Yet when the crowd refused to disperse, the troops fired another round, this time killing twenty-two protestors.5 As a result of this and other riots, proper police training soon included managing a mob scene. Crowd control remains an issue police must tackle today, evident in several of the films acquired by the Police Museum and watched for this project.
By 1853, requirements to join the force were few: one had to be male, an American citizen, literate, and know the “first four rules of arithmetic.”6 A doctor’s certificate was required to vouch for the health and fitness of the candidate and twenty-five references were to be submitted to the selection committee, composed of the City’s mayor, recorder, and judge. Following the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1853, a precursor to the World’s Fair, and the positive response to the uniformed guards stationed there, the New York Police Department enacted an official uniform.7 A blue coat with a velvet collar and brass buttons, gray pants with a vertical black stripe down the sides, and a cap now distinguished servicemen from civilians, instilling a sense of authority and importance in the individual officer and in the police force as an institution.
Yet even with the prerequisites and the uniform, police officers were themselves no paragon of piety and justice. As the city’s population and big business grew throughout the nineteenth century, so too did corruption among the New York City Police. Because the Department was run through the municipality and for a period by the New York State government, many police considered their role as having been created by and for politicians. Policemen frequently worked behind the scenes for corrupt city officials such as William Marcy “Boss” Tweed and his cohorts, tampering with election results and the democracy they were appointed to maintain. In addition to the corruption surrounding voting practices and policing, brothels, bars, and gambling houses frequently accommodated policemen, lending credence to the fear that corruption saw its greatest ally in those whose job was to prevent it.
Following an investigation in the early 1890s into the corruption of the Police Department spearheaded by Reverend Charles Parkhurst, a member of the Society for the Prevention of Crime, reform was slowly initiated. State politicians, Democrats and Republicans, agreed to an official examination of the New York City Police Department, hoping to harm the other’s reputation through the study’s results. With $17,500, a committee began hearings in March 1894, exposing the prevalence of voting corruption and general vice among the city’s officers.8 Following these hearings, four new Police Commissioners, two Democrats and two Republicans, replaced the existing board. Theodore Roosevelt, then the Federal Civil Service Commissioner, received one of these appointments and succeeded in reducing corruption within the Department. However, at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt relinquished his post to become Secretary of the Navy and the Department once again returned to its corrupt ways.9
Throughout its existence, the New York City Police Department has struggled with corruption and crime among its ranking officials and has fluctuated between periods of vice and subsequent reform. Though various police commissioners and mayors have attempted to purge the Department of such corruption, today’s Department continues to struggle with members of its own force guilty of bribery, brutality, and abuse of physical power.
Though the police force was designed as a professional organization, as is evident from the preceding stories, many of its earliest officers were far from professionals. In 1853, the same year the official New York City Police uniform was adopted, the Department organized a training program known as the School of Instruction. However, the school operated on a temporary schedule such that not all recruits received the instruction. By 1885 all police officers had to complete a one-month training course held at the police headquarters in Manhattan and in 1914, the School of Instruction was renamed the Police Training School. Recruits received twelve weeks of education in police tactics by trained instructors and by 1924, refresher courses were offered for current policemen. Aerobics, calisthenics, wrestling, bag punching, jiu jitsu, and proper prisoner handling were also included.10
By 1934, the school moved to Brooklyn and was renamed the Police Academy. Not only did the Academy hire instructors trained in police tactics, but members of the city and state Board of Education, as well as university professors from New York City schools, joined the staff. During World War II, members of the army and navy were trained as instructors. Those deferred from the draft attended the Academy to fill in precincts whose servicemen had been called to active duty. Following the end of the war, over 2,000 veterans were accepted into the Academy. To accommodate the school’s growth, the Police Academy returned to Manhattan and occupied a vacant public school on Hubert Street where it remained until moving into a new building at 235 East 20 Street in 1964.th 11
By the mid 1960s, training lasted four months and included 240 hours of academic instruction, 192 hours of physical strengthening, 64 hours of firearm practice, and 24 hours of field work. The purpose of the Academy, as stated in a 1960s brochure, was and remains the “continual improvement of the police service through education and higher standards of selection with the ultimate goal the professionalization of the police force.” Many policemen enrolled in police science courses at Baruch College of Business and Public Administration at City College and in 1965, due to overwhelming interest in the police science courses at Baruch, the College of Police Science of the City University of New York, now John Jay College for Criminal Justice, was established at the same location as the Academy. Many policemen graduated with an associate’s, a bachelor’s, or master’s degree in public administration or criminal justice.12
Though the Academy is still located on East 20 Street, construction is slated to begin on a new Police Academy in Queens. At the Academy, recruits cycle through the Physical Training and Tactics Department where they learn defense techniques, baton use, suspect searches, frisking and handcuffing, and first aid among other skills. The Integrity and Discipline Unit teaches the rules and regulations required of recruits and officers, the Firearms and Tactics Section provides basic firearm education and refresher courses (featured in some of the footage watched for this project), and the Driver Training Courses offer qualification certificates for permission to operate various vehicles.th
A History of the Institution: The New York City Police Museum from its Inception to the Present Though today the New York City Police Museum is a non-profit municipal organization, the original police museum was created in 1929 as part of the Police Academy by members of the force who refused to see items of importance discarded. The museum became an integral part of recruit instruction, supplementing classroom training with tangible evidence of the Department’s history. However, the items and artifacts on display were not relegated to recruits’ eyes alone; visitors could schedule an appointment with one of the officers and tour the museum’s gallery space.
With limited room for exhibits at the Police Academy and fearing that objects no longer needed for training might be thrown into the East River as was common among government agencies, Police Commissioner Howard Safir and his wife Carol lead the effort to relocate the museum in the late 1990s. It was discovered in 1998 that a private business, the Alliance for Downtown New York, had offered the city up to $700,000 a year for ten years to build and run a police substation in lower Manhattan in exchange for establishing the Museum in the neighborhood. Opponents argued that the exchange was essentially buying police protection, something poorer neighborhoods that could use additional security could not afford. Though Mayor Giuliani cancelled the deal, the Alliance for Downtown New York continues to offer financial support and a substation was ultimately built in the area, though not through the original arrangement.
In January 2000, the Police Museum opened in a building on Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan. In its first year it registered nearly 70,000 visitors. Two years later, in December 2001, the Museum moved again, relocating to 100 Old Slip to accommodate additional exhibits and obtain greater storage space for items not on display. Though the Landmarks Preservation Commission then occupied the address, the building, a landmark in itself, was once home to the First Police Precinct, as the engraving reads above the front door. As Todd Ciaravino, the Museum’s executive director, said, “We’re going back home. It has a history with the Police Department. Come on, it says ‘First Precinct’ right on the door. It’s an invitation.”13
Constructed in 1909, the building at 100 Old Slip, now home to the Police Museum, had been constructed on the site of an earlier station house built in 1884, the precinct charged with monitoring all the downtown banks, the federal Custom House, and the New York Stock Exchange. It was, according to A.E. Costello in his 1885 history of the Police Department, the “most important police district in the world” for “no officer of police commands men who have as many billions and vast commercial and financial interests to watch over”14 than the Captain stationed at the First Precinct. Yet in the early 1970s, accusations of corruption and bribery aimed at officers stationed at the First Precinct brought about the station’s relocation and the transfer of most of its officers. Nearly thirty years later it once again returned to the Police Department.15
The Police Museum now receives approximately one hundred and fifty visitors over the weekends and more so on the weekdays, catering to a variety of ages and ethnicities, from school groups to foreign tourists.16 The New York City Police Museum illustrates the history of the “world’s largest and most famous police force,”17 exhibiting artifacts which date as far back as the city’s first Dutch settlers to as recent as September 11, 2001. In doing so, the museum has attempted to recreate three centuries of life, law, and corrections policies within the city of New York. In depicting this portrait of New York City both prior to and following the inception of the police force, the museum traces the transformation of the department from a makeshift watch service to a modern day institution. Yet, not only do the museum’s exhibits depict the “policies and culture” of the police department itself, but the history of the individual communities for which the department continues to serve. The museum also commemorates the history and legacy of its officers, displaying the shield of every officer killed on duty since 1845.18
A Museum or a Unit of the NYPD?: The Future of the New York City Police Museum From 1929 through 1998, the Police Museum served as an extension of the Police Department, located at the Academy and operated by Department personnel. The items on display and in storage belonged to the Department as a whole and to individual members who donated items from their own, personal collections. When former Police Commissioner Howard Safir founded the non-profit museum in 1998, the museum lost its status as an official unit of the Department and was instead recognized as a municipal institution. Due to various stipulations within the contract about which I was prohibited from recording notes, the New York City Police Department owns approximately 75-80 percent of all items in the Museum’s collection. The remaining items are municipal property. However, because the original agreement did not specify user access to written documents and records within the Museum’s collection, Museum personnel are unable to authorize access to much of the manuscript collection without first going through the Police Department.19
Along with the three hundred units that comprise the current Department, the Museum must contact the Department’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Information before releasing information to researchers. Unfortunately, as I have discovered in the course of my own research for this project, contacting the DCPI does not guarantee an immediate response. The DCPI is responsible for clearing all information given to reporters, journalists, and city officials, and in conversation with a staff member there, I was told, not to my surprise, that such inquiries take priority over the rest. This means that a researcher often has to wait long periods of time for the request to be processed. While the Museum Registrar can use her discretion in some cases where research is being conducted for academic purposes as she did for me, allowing me to sift through issues of the police magazine, Spring 3100 and various museum records, those working on for-profit projects, including books and documentaries, must wait for a response from DCPI before accessing Museum records.
It would be interesting to know whether researchers unaffiliated with the Department were able to access materials housed at the original police museum when it was located in the Police Academy. Unfortunately, Al Young, the Department Historian, dedicated collector and contributor of police paraphernalia, and one of the former curators of the museum from whose personal collection many of the items originated, is no longer alive. It would be he who would have been familiar with the former regulations governing the use of such materials.
Now that the Museum has a Registrar on staff, they are better able to tackle the issue of rights and user accessibility. The Museum has contacted the DCPI in order to establish appropriate protocol for academic and for-profit research. It is the Museum’s hope this will be agreed upon in the near future. Because interest in the current Police Department and its history increased tremendously after September 11, 2001, the Museum has experienced a rise in research requests. As the custodian of such valuable resources, the Museum looks forward to the day when researchers will be able to access and use their collections following established guidelines.
Prior to the current Registrar’s arrival, individual inventories had been drawn up by various Museum employees. These consisted of Microsoft Word documents and Excel spreadsheets listing the item, a brief description, and occasionally the donor. The most thorough of the inventories had been created prior to the Museum’s move from Broadway to its present location at 100 Old Slip nearly seven years ago. However, even the comprehensiveness of this inventory is dubious. Though some items are numbered, most were not uniformly accessioned and information regarding the provenance and description of each of the items is fairly hard to track down. As we discussed in class, maintaining records of both the provenance and description of items is crucial for maintaining order within in a museum.
The Registrar has begun to re-inventory every item in the collection, creating accession numbers for each. Though a substantial effort, her hope is that this will eliminate any doubt that not all of the Museum’s items have been accounted for. No longer will item description and provenance information remain elusive and hard to locate. Once the new inventory is complete, her plan is to have an intern go through and compare the older inventories to the newly created one, adding information where it is missing. The Museum has just installed TMS, or The Museum System and is creating this new inventory in that database.
Because the completion of this inventory is one of the Registrar’s primary goals, her belief is that until all items currently within the collection are accounted for, few additional items should be added. Though the Museum’s collecting policy is to accept memorabilia, paraphernalia, and documents related to the New York City Police Department and its employees, the Museum is not actively involved in collecting. The Museum does, however, accept donation from individuals when they fit within the scope of the institution’s collecting policy. Perhaps because the Museum was originally established as part of the Police Academy and not by a trained museum specialist or archivist, minimal documentation exists regarding older accessions.
An Accidental Archive: Police Academy Films Acquired by the New York City Police Museum Among the artifacts currently on display are original communication equipment, uniforms and photographs of former officers from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and a variety of vintage weapons. Yet, the New York City Police Museum has a far more extensive collection than its exhibits suggest. Hundreds of additional artifacts are stored throughout the building. Among those items not on display are ten large boxes of film, within which are nearly one hundred reels. When the Museum opened in its own building in Lower Manhattan, these reels were included among the artifacts and objects transferred from the Police Academy to the new location. The films sat unwatched, aging in storage, not a result of flagging interest but rather the scarcity of time and resources. Though many of the films were labeled, often a notation in marker scribbled on the metal can or an actual sticker with a brief description, without viewing the films and confirming the footage, it was impossible to ascertain their relevance to the Museum and a reason for their retention. It is only now, after many of them have been viewed, that their value, and in some cases, their lack of value, is clear.
Located in a storage room on the fourth floor of the Museum are ninety-six reels of film distributed among ten large storage/shipping boxes. With the exception of six 35mm Popeye (the Sailor Man) films, all are shot on 16mm film. Many of the cans have “Eastman Kodak Company” or “Eastman Kodak 16mm Safety Film” engraved into their covers. Most reels are housed in either metal or plastic cans or containers; a few reels are lying loose and unprotected. Though most of the cans are stacked flat within the boxes, in order to reduce the number of boxes used some cans were squeezed in diagonally while others were lined sideways. When first introduced to the collection, my hope was that the placement of films within each of the boxes would provide clues as to their provenance. I considered the fact that the films in each box might have been placed together for a reason; perhaps they arrived at the Museum on the same day, were originally used as instructional tools for the same class at the Academy, or were donated by an individual officer and not necessarily by the Academy itself.
However, after speaking with Beth Spinelli, the Museum’s Registrar, I realized that this would not be an effective or appropriate method of analyzing the provenance or content of the films. Before Beth was hired, reels of film were scattered throughout the building, some in boxes, some not. To maintain order, Beth placed the films in boxes where they would fit, often grouping together similar cans or those whose labels matched when and where space permitted. Since there was no thorough, extant inventory of the films and since most cans have only a terse label at best, Beth had little to work with in terms of arranging reels within boxes, and so placed them where they would fit. There is, then, little rationale explaining their current organization.
As mentioned in the preceding paragraph, many of the films are labeled. Some films, like a CBS production entitled “I’ve Got A Secret,” retain their original label from the production company or vendor. Others are identified by white stickers/labels likely placed by the Police Academy which offer uniform information, including, when known, the title, the year, the actors, whether the film was black and white or color, and sound or silent. NYCPD is frequently written on these labels and the films themselves are often attached to a blue leader on which is printed “N.Y.C. Police Academy Visual Aids Unit”20 leading me to believe the leader and the labels were added by the Police Academy. Some film cans have both types of labels (original and possible Police Academy label), while others are have neither. To get a better grasp of the number of films, how many were labeled, and where and by whom they might have been produced, I took an inventory. Since I knew I would have to be judicious with my selection of films to watch, this would ultimately help prioritize my viewing schedule.
Unlabeled and Labeled films (though no clear vendor or producer mentioned) – 50
Bicycle/Traffic Safety Unit – labeled films: AAA, Association Films, Modern Learning Aids Company, Charles Cahill Driving Safety Films, Disney, Aetna, plus other vendors) – 17
American Management Association – 18
King Features, Popeye films – 8
Sports Car Club of America – 1
University of Iowa – 1
Capital Film Lab - 1
In order to watch the films at the Study Center, I began taking films from the Museum one box at a time; although after the first box I decided to transport the films via rolling suitcase. To guarantee their safety, I kept the films at my apartment, bringing several at a time to the Study Center where I watched them on the CineScan. The first group of films I chose at random, not knowing what to expect. Once I watched these and became a little more familiar with the footage, recognizing that those films not produced by large corporations might ultimately prove more valuable and interesting to the Museum, I culled through the boxes gathering those films with no labels as well as those whose labels did not provide a production company or creator. Since the boxes had not been arranged according to a specific scheme, neither Beth nor I recoiled from the idea of removing films from their boxes.
Once I watched most of the films whose labels provided less detail, I returned to those films which, according to their cans, seemed to have been produced by larger companies. I wanted to gauge how accurate the labels were. I recognized that because a can may have an NBC label, for example, the film inside may not have been the original NBC footage. In several instances, the plastic container matched the plastic reel housed inside, suggesting that the label on the container was likely indicative of the footage. For many of the metal cans, though, because the reels do not match their cans, it was difficult to use this method, necessitating a confirmation through viewing. Interestingly, and to my great pleasure, all of the cans providing a label with producer and content description matched the footage within.
I watched forty films, some in more depth than others. Though I originally considered only watching a few minutes of each film in order to make it through more of the collection, I recognized almost immediately that many of the films, especially those whose producers were unknown (and might very well have been members of the Police Department) would require longer and more thorough viewings. Because these films were potentially shot and owned by the Department, I thought it was valuable to have a more detailed log in case they could be used. Many of the films, such as those of the Mounted Unit competitions at the National Horse Show, were compilations of footage shot over the course of several years. To have only watched the first five minutes of the film, or even to have skimmed through the film and watched a total of five minutes throughout, I might have missed the fact that several years were covered. Those films which documented the police force in action, at ticker tape parades, horse shows, crowd control practice, and protests, and thus, depending on copyright owner, could potentially be used in exhibits about the NYPD or for licensing purposes, required more careful viewing.
Of the films I watched, twenty-eight exhibited at least a faint trace of a vinegar smell, informing me that the films were experiencing vinegar syndrome in which acetic acid is released from the acetate film. All were housed in metal cans or plastic containers except for one film (Main Street, USA). The films were roughly split between color and black and white. In the credits to one of the films produced by Walt Disney Productions, it specifically says “Color by Technicolor.” Judging from the clear strip around the perforations and the tiny red markings and letters, it seems many of the films used Eastmancolor film stock.21 Most of the films were silent. However, I did not choose the reels at random but rather watched specific films, intentionally selecting what might have been more amateur over the fully edited, professional films produced by AMA, Aetna, and AAA, which were more than likely to have included sound. The quality of the color film fluctuated greatly. Several of the color films were nearly monochromatic, exhibiting varying shades of red, likely because Eastmancolor film was very unstable. The cyan and yellow would fade first, leaving the magenta layer. Fading can also be accelerated as a result of poor processing and storage environment. Only one film (an AMA production) appeared to have mold growth.
Questions, Questions, and More Questions: Understanding the Film Collection Having watched the films, I was left with far more questions than when I began: How many films were at the Academy when the Museum left the building and were they all donated to the Police Museum? Was there a film library at the Academy or was it shared with John Jay College of Criminal Justice? Who produced these films, why were they commissioned, and how were they used? Which films have enduring value for the Police Department or the Museum, and how can they be used in the future?
My search for information regarding the specifics of the Police Academy’s film collection led me into conversation with numerous department officials and a variety of university and municipal librarians and archivists. Inside one of the cans (NBC News Police Academy Police Cadet) was a lined index card serving as a library check-out card for John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The date on the card read “12-9-71.” Mentioned in Section 1 of this paper, the Police Academy and John Jay College shared a building until the college relocated across town. Unfortunately, the librarian with whom I spoke at John Jay College was unfamiliar with the system of lending films for police courses in the 1970s and was unable to provide additional information regarding the Police Academy’s film library nor did she know whether one library was shared between John Jay College and the Academy. Because many of the films had leaders which said “N.Y.C. Police Academy Visual Aids Unit” it is clear there was some sort of unit in charge of the films used for training purposes. However, no one at the Police Academy, even in their Archives, was able to provide answers regarding the Academy’s history, its film collection, or its Visual Aids Unit. Having contacted all the appropriate Department units, I believe the only other option is to wait for DCPI to return my research request.
It is clear through labels and credits that many of the films, primarily those used for training purposes were produced by outside vendors and private production companies. For these, it was rather simple answering the question “who produced the films?” However, as mentioned earlier, a significant number of the films were not labeled nor did they provide credits identifying producers, creators, or copyright holders. These included both training films and raw footage of events. According to a police department official, the Video Production Unit of the New York City Police Department was established in the late 1960s or early 1970s. No documentation exists at the Police Department confirming this date; the official with whom I spoke was merely working from what he had been told in his own search for records. In addition, no documentation prior to the 1960s exists suggesting a film production unit of the Police Department.
Having farmed out production work to various companies prior to its creation, the Video Production Unit was organized to produce in-house training films which were then broadcast to individual precincts as well as to the Academy. Prints of films were rarely, if ever, distributed. It was only with the popularization of VHS and later DVD that precincts received their own copies of the instructional videos rather than the broadcast version. A brochure advertising the Police Academy published in the mid 1960s confirmed the Department official’s statements. This brochure mentioned that the Academy received half-hour training programs through high frequency television waves. The programs were broadcast twenty times to ensure the widest audience.22
Prior to the creation of the Video Production Unit, various production companies including WNYC-TV/Film were often commissioned to produce instructional films, according to the same Department official. According to an article in the December, 1957 issue of Spring 3100, a magazine published for recruits and policemen, the department had recently commissioned a series of new handgun instructional films to be produced by City College’s Institute of Film Technology. Though policemen volunteered as actors, the article did not mention whether they also learned how to shoot and film their own production.23 The archivist for the WNYC-TV collection at the Municipal Archives mentioned that the WNYC-TV/Film Unit, which was in existence from 1947-1961 when it then became the producing unit of the WNYC television station, also produced training films for government agencies. However, the archivist noted that if credits make no mention WNYC or if no credits exist, the films were likely not produced by WNYC.
Could the unedited footage now housed at the Police Museum have been raw footage shot by WNYC-TV or one of the other production companies commissioned to produce films for the department? Could they have provided the Police Academy with prints of their unedited film? For a contemporary comparison, both the History Channel and the Discovery Channel hire independent production companies to produce shows that will broadcast on their networks. Because the production companies are commissioned on a work-for-hire basis, the History and Discovery Channels legally own all of the footage shot, not only the edited show master. Because of this, they call for all source tapes as well as the broadcast show version. Perhaps the production companies were hired through a similar agreement. However, I tend to doubt this was standard practice in the 1950s and 1960s. Again, having exhausted it seems every avenue of research into the history of the Police Department’s production units, waiting for a response from the DCPI appears to be the only option.
Interestingly, the same Department official mentioned that a closet which had been locked for years and only recently opened for need of storage space unveiled hundreds of 16mm films. The collection sounds very similar to the Police Museum’s collection, comprised of films from outside vendors as well as raw footage with no credit lines or title pages. The Department official was unaware of any inventory of these films, or thought it might have disappeared over the years. Perhaps part of the Academy’s film collection went to the Police Museum, the rest ended up in this closet. Alternatively, following one of the Academy’s relocations, films might have been stored in this closet. With no apparent records and no one who seems to know or remember, it is difficult to determine the answers to these questions.
One of my initial goals was to discover who produced each of the films I watched in order to determine copyright holding and usage rights. Having spoken with numerous department officials and recognizing that not only do documents not exist, but much of the information that does exist needs to be released by DCPI, I realize that identifying the creator and provenance of these films will take several more months at best. Having exhausted all avenues of inquiry and resigned to waiting to hear back from DCPI, I have researched the history and event details of several of the films I believe have enduring value for the Museum and the Department, specifically those films whose footage captured historical events or the Police Department in action. Such films could ultimately be used in exhibits or as licensed footage for documentaries.
My research, the background information designed to situate the footage within its appropriate period and place, follows:
Mounted Unit Competitions at the National Horse Show:
Several of the films in the collection highlight the New York City Mounted Unit and various competitions in which its members participated. At a time when driver’s licenses did not yet exist, the Mounted Police Unit was formed in July 1871 by the Board of Police to monitor irresponsible carriage horse driving. In the first year alone, 429 arrests were made. The unit’s one Sergeant, twelve officers, and fifteen horses were originally stationed around Central Park. Two stables, one at 87 Street and 1thst Avenue and the other at 152nd Street and 7th Avenue, provided shelter for the horses when not on duty. By the end of the nineteenth century, the force had grown to nearly 400 horses, and mounted officers now patrolled various precincts throughout the city. In addition to routine patrolling, Mounted Officers were employed in a variety of other ways. They were, and continue to be, stationed at the head of parades, clearing the way for the procession, as well as at demonstrations and riots. During the mid-twentieth century, however, the city’s building boom displaced the Unit’s stables and the Mounted Unit was forced to shrink in numbers.
In June 1883, twelve years after the Mounted Unit was formed, the National Horse Show Association of America was founded with the purpose of giving “exhibitions of horses at some suitable spot, on about the same plan as that pursued at bench shows, where the beauty and points of horses aside from their speed is to count.”24 From October 22-26 of that same year, the first annual National Horse Show was held at Madison Square Garden offering, as one New York Times article called it, the only place where one can “see all of the many classes – runners, trotters, draught horses, and horses suitable for general use – collected together.”25
Until the venue switched from New York City’s Madison Square Garden to an arena in Florida a few years ago, the Mounted Police Unit had performed and competed in the show since its inception. Due to the size of the Unit, not all Mounted Officers could participate in the show. To be selected, skill, technique, horse care and individual record were evaluated at troop competitions prior to the event. Generally, the top twenty contestants earned a spot on the National Horse Show Mounted Unit team. In case of an emergency, extra horses as well as officers tended to be available in case they needed to serve as an alternate. Though the show varied from year to year, most Mounted Unit performances and competitions lasted between fifteen and thirty minutes. Set to music, the drill team performed individual as well as choreographed rides with “intricate maneuvers and precise timing.”26 Not only did the show boost unit spirit, but it consistently served as a method to recruit newcomers. According to a New York City Police Department article, “participation in the National Horse Show is the high point of the year’s activities for all members of the Unit.”27
Remarkably, neither the general history of the Mounted Police Unit nor its involvement with the National Horse Show appears in any of the books I have taken out of the library on the New York City Police Department. According to a department official from the Mounted Unit, prior to the recent update of the New York City Police Department’s website, there was an online history of the Mounted Unit. When the City government redid their website, Police Department webpages were changed and the link to the Mounted Unit’s history disappeared. I stopped by the Mounted Unit headquarters behind the Javits Center, and, thanks to his generosity, the department official provided me with a printout of the original link as well as information on the saddles used and the Unit today.
Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro Attend UN General Assembly, 1960:
In September, 1960 Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro arrived in New York City to attend the United Nations’ General Assembly. One of the films within the New York City Police Museum’s collection highlights their visit, including protests against Khrushchev’s presence and a rally in support of Castro. The film, pieced together with footage from various scenes throughout the city, begins with establishing shots of New York City and the United Nations, including both the exterior and the interior of the building. Hundreds of policemen are seen standing outside the perimeter of the government complex and along nearby streets, receiving instruction and preparing for the day’s enormous security operation. Anticipating unprecedented protests and possible hostility, the New York City Police Department began preparing for Khrushchev’s arrival two weeks before his ship, the Baltica, reached New York’s harbor.
According to a New York Times article, at 12:01am Monday, September 19, the entire New York City Police Department, comprised of 23,596 policemen,28 was to be put on ‘“flexible’ emergency duty.”29 However, the United Nations General Assembly and thus the “emergency duty” coincided with Rosh Hashanah beginning the eve of September 21. Despite the fact that Police Commissioner Stephen Kennedy was criticized not only by the 1300 Jewish policemen in the force, but by Mayor Robert Wagner30 for denying Jewish policemen the time off they had already been granted for the holiday, he refused to renegotiate, later claiming (though not in reference to his denial of religious observance), that this would be “the toughest security job in my experience.”31 The work week was extended to sixty hours instead of the traditional forty-two, and while policemen were assigned seven eight-hour shifts, all commanding officers were on call twenty-four hours a day.32
Police allowed picketing only in pre-arranged areas, and stipulated that signs and banners had to be held with hands rather than attached to sticks or poles. Garbage cans were removed to prevent trash fires and buildings were inspected as possible shelter in case of an air attack. It was, as a Department spokesperson claimed “the most complicated and exhaustive problem of protection in the history of the department.”33 A New York Times article from September 18 provided a detailed list of the number of policemen and reserves on duty during each of the three eight-hour shifts beginning that day, as well as informed readers of temporary and permanent police headquarters, vehicular restrictions, and the pre-arranged picketing locations.
The film switches scenes to Premier Khrushchev leaving the headquarters of the Soviet delegation to the United Nations at 68 Street and Park Avenue where he lodged for the week, greeting press, chatting through a translator, and smiling to the throngs of reporters, journalists, and onlookers. Khrushchev, who essentially invited himself to the United Nations assembly to discuss disarmament even though he once declared never to negotiate with the United States while Eisenhower was President,th 34 was restricted in his travels to Manhattan alone. This was done primarily to maximize security at a time when Americans were still seething over the recent shooting of a U.S. plane over international waters and the arrest and detainment of two American pilots. There was, though, an element of retribution, denying Khrushchev the freedom to move about in response to the United States’ position regarding his own government’s “violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”35 Brooklyn was off-limits as a result of the United States naval base there.
Suddenly the film shifts scenes to the evening, with protestors holding signs saying “Wanted for Murder – Fat Red Rat” and “Mr. K Go Away.” As is quite evident, many Americans did not look favorably upon Khrushchev’s visit to the United States. “It is almost a year now since Nikita Khrushchev visited this country, bombarded us with his oratory, complained about not being allowed to visit Disneyland…”36 one New York Times editorialist complained. This particular author then referenced Khrushchev’s decision to celebrate the 150 anniversary of Mexican independence in Mexico, and, as the author asserts, “at this point in history we suspect most Mexicans, like most Americans, would welcome a visit from the Premier just a little more than a visitation from the plague.”th It is no surprise such an enormous security operation was necessary to prevent potential violence.
According to a New York Times article written on September 19, “mounted and foot patrolmen clashed last night with screaming anti-Khrushchev demonstrators who converged on the Soviet headquarters…”37 The fifty policemen on duty at the time were insufficient to curb the two thousand protestors who broke past the security barricades. Emergency units, including fifty additional patrolmen, twenty mounted officers, and over forty detectives, were called in to help and finally disbanded the demonstration around 7pm. This protest had followed an organized anti-Khrushchev parade up Fifth Avenue. It was believed most of the demonstrators were Eastern European refugees. It is likely that the scene mentioned above from the film I watched is footage of this demonstration, but because it was dark, no street signs appeared in the footage, and protests were held throughout Khrushchev’s stay, it is difficult to guarantee the date as the night of September 18.
From the anti-Khrushchev protest, the New York City Police Museum’s film switches to Manhattan’s Upper West Side where, at 125 Street and Seventh Avenue, Fidel Castro had found lodging at the Theresa Hotel for himself and his entourage. Throngs of Castro supporters holding signs saying “Right to Self Determination” and “Fidel is Welcome in Harlem Anytime!” stood in the rain outside the hotel. Like Khrushchev, Castro was also under similar travel restrictions but traveled the few miles from the United Nations to Harlem for lodging claiming he was met with “incredible inhospitality”th after a dispute with the owner of the hotel he was originally slated to stay at closer to the government complex. Though it was speculated Castro chose a Harlem hotel to garner support from the African American community, he claimed he would sleep nearly anywhere, “even Central Park.” As Castro remarked, “We are mountain people. We are used to sleeping in the open air.”38 By the time he arrived at the Hotel Theresa around 12:30am on September 20, hundreds of his supporters were already waiting for him. It was this scene that was captured on the footage now part of the Police Museum’s collection.
John Glenn Parade, 1962 and Major L. Gordon Cooper, Jr. Parade, 1963:
When space flight was still a relatively new phenomenon and the drive to compete with the Soviet Union’s space program fostered enormous patriotism and interest in the new science, astronauts were hailed as national heroes following successful missions. In 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. New York City hosted the largest ticker tape parade in its history on March 1, showering the guests, the onlookers, and the streets with thirty-five hundred tons of ticker tape. Despite the freezing weather, four million fans lined Broadway, nicknamed “Astronaut Way” and smaller cross-streets to catch a glimpse of the procession. Vice-President Johnson, John Glenn, and his wife Annie were driven in the beige parade convertible by Harry Carter down Broadway to City Hall.
A year later, on May 18, 1963, a similar parade was held for Major L. Gordon Cooper Jr, who had recently returned home from successfully orbiting the earth 22 times in one flight. Following the same route as the Glenn parade, the traditional parade convertible traveled from Battery Park to City Hall and from there to a luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria.
I had the opportunity to watch the footage of both processions included among the Police Museum’s collection. Glenn, his wife Annie, and the Vice-President were easy to identify in the parade car and on the steps to City Hall in the 1962 celebration as was Cooper and a woman, presumably his wife, during the following year’s parade. Though the New York Times provided fewer details for the Cooper parade, one can imagine it must have been similar to the Glenn’s parade in which the newspaper reported over three thousand policemen were stationed at various spots along the route. The footage I watched captured spectators breaking through police barricades as the article mentions. I noted in my description of the film, policemen linking arms to hold back crowds and mounted officers blocking fans from running into the street. As a New York Times article mentioned, in some areas the crowds “could see nothing, and the frustrated mass began heaving forward with such insistence that it took twenty-three policemen to contain them.”39 If copyright could be traced to the Police Department or if the Police Museum could arrange to use the films, both would prove extremely valuable for use in an exhibit on parades and police presence, crowd control tactics, or a look at the Mounted Unit over time (these films would highlight their use during ticker tape parades).
Elijah Muhammad Rally, 1963:
Elijah Muhammad, a leader of the Nation of Islam and founder of the movement Black Muslims, held a rally in Harlem on July 13, 1963. Born in Georgia in 1897 as Elijah Poole, his father was a Baptist preacher and both his parents were former slaves. After holding various manual labor jobs, Muhammad moved to Detroit where he met Fard Muhammad, the founder of the Nation of Islam. Muhammad served as Fard’s assistant, and after Fard disappeared, created his own branch of the Nation of Islam movement, known as the Black Muslims, in which he was referred to as “Allah’s Messenger.” With Fard’s disappearance, Muhammad assumed leadership of the Nation of Islam, and was responsible for converting such figures as Malcolm X to the Nation. Not only did Muhammad establish a Temple to Islam and an elementary and high school dedicated to the ideals preached by the Nation, but also a circulating newspaper titled Muhammad Speaks.40 It is this title which appears in the film I watched on a large banner draped over the podium at which Muhammad, Malcolm X, and other invited guests spoke. Muhammad appealed to unemployed and underpaid lower and middle class African Americans and found a huge support system in Harlem where his rally was held in the summer of 1963.41
According to an advertisement posted in the New York Amsterdam News on July 13,42 Malcolm X, a Muslim minister and himself a leader of a branch of the Nation of Islam, served as the rally’s host while Muhammad’s youngest son43, Akbar, was the event’s honored guest speaker. Though the film is silent, it captures both Malcolm X and Akbar Muhammad on the podium and the enormous crowd gathered to listen and cheer. It is difficult to determine whether Elijah Muhammad actually attended this event; the three newspaper articles reporting on the rally fail to mention his presence, but rather describe the event as a welcoming-home for his son after his two-year stay in Cairo. The 24-year old Akbar gave, what the newspapers called, a “Special Report on Africa for the People of Harlem.”44 According to an article in the New York Amsterdam News, more than 2000 people attended the rally, though a New York Times article set the number at 100045. The film, possibly shot by a policeman or commissioned by the Department, pans the scene, illustrating the number of policemen on duty. Footage appears to have been shot throughout the duration of the rally; the film captures a band performing on the podium, people waiting and milling about, various speakers and the relatively subdued audience listening intently, and the crowd dispersing after the event. Depending on copyright, this would be an interesting film to screen in an exhibit on police presence at protests and rallies. What is so interesting is that at what could have easily been a charged rally, as Malcolm X emphasized a “government solution”46 would not improve race discrimination and Akbar Muhammad called for unity as “the salvation for the black man all over the world,”47 there was no visible violence or unrest, at least not captured on film. Even at the ticker tape parades for astronauts John Glenn and L. Gordon Cooper were there more police restraining aggressive fans and onlookers.
“Search and Seizure”:
Unlike the other films discussed in this section, “Search and Seizure: The Right of the People” is not raw footage of an event but rather a professionally edited training film. Full credit information is given; the film, a Picture Company Series production was created in 1986 for the New York City Police Department Legal Bureau for their Constitutional Law Film Series. According to the film, copyright is held by the New York City Police Department. Yet when I spoke with an attorney at the NYPD Legal Bureau hoping to gather more information about this particular film and the series for which it was produced, no records of the film or the series were located. Neither the Municipal Archives nor the City Hall Library had records of the particular copyright either. Whether this was in part due to a hesitancy to share information without first going through DCPI or, in fact, due to the reason given which was that the records no longer existed, it proved yet another roadblock in my quest for information. However, a different Department official provided me with the basic information for which I was looking.
The original series included eleven or twelve feature films, approximately 35 to 45 minutes each.48 Designed to educate about Constitutional law and individual rights, perhaps to grab their audience’s attention, the Department often hired famous personalities as actors and narrators. “Search and Seizure” was narrated by Sam Waterston and “Street Encounters,” the other film within this series housed at the Museum and inventoried for this project, was narrated by James Earl Jones. According to the Department official, the series was extremely expensive to produce and relied on funding from the New York City Police Foundation, a non-profit entity designed to raise money for the Department. As a government agency, the New York City Police Department is not legally allowed to solicit donations; hence the NYC Police Foundation was established. The Foundation accepts donations from individuals who want to support the Police Department but are unable to offer financial contributions. The film series’ intended audience was recruits training at the Academy and servicemen attending refresher courses in Department policies and practice. Though some of the films are now obsolete as a result of changes in Supreme Court legislation over the past twenty years, several are still used for recruit training at the Police Academy.
Recommendations for the Future: Results of this Endeavor, Important Steps Moving Forward, and Avenues of Additional Research Coincidentally, I proposed this project to the Museum as Beth Spinelli, the Registrar, was tackling the responsibility of re-inventorying all items within their collection. When I arranged to watch the films, she had not yet reached the film collection. I sorted through the films, recording how many were included within the collection, whether producers or creators were noted on the cans or labels, as well as other descriptive elements. For those films I watched, I created Microsoft Word documents, including information about the condition of the cans, the reels and the films themselves. I recorded the description written on the labels (if present) and provided a log of the footage. Choosing the films I considered to hold the most enduring value for the Museum and the Police Department, I researched the events, locations, and individuals featured on the footage (descriptions in Section 4). I did so hoping that the details I provide might spearhead the preservation of such films and persuade others of their value and their potential for use in exhibits. This project, though, is just a start. More remains to be done.
Recommendations for Continued Research and Film Viewing:
Continue research to determine the producers of those films for which this information is not yet known:
With limited time to carry out the project, I was unable to watch and inventory all of the films. With the permission of the Study Center, I hope to continue this project. Though I believe I have contacted all appropriate units within the Police Department, research into the questions I posed earlier in this report should be continued. I believe the best approach is to maintain contact with the DCPI in the hope that they respond with information or offer suggestions as to where else to look.
According to Beth Spinelli, the Museum would like to create new exhibits, and is interested in potentially using films as one display medium. Because of copyright, those films within the Museum’s collection produced by outside companies would likely require licensing agreements and payment for the use of their footage. However, if it were possible to identify the producers of the raw footage and training films I watched which did not provide title pages or credits, it might be discovered that they were created by the New York City Police Department. Thus the copyright would be held by the Department and the footage, with the Department’s approval, could then be used without fear of copyright infringement, in various museum exhibits. The following suggestions/examples are all dependent on whether the footage was shot by a member of the Police Department or whether the Museum can obtain the rights to use the films:
History of the Mounted Police Unit (using footage of the National Horse Show Mounted Unit Competition shot at Madison Square Garden and an outdoor horse show at the Fairfield County Hunt Club, as well as footage of demonstrations, protests, parades, including the Glenn and Cooper parades, the Khrushchev protests, and the Castro and Muhammad rallies in which policemen were seen enforcing the law)
Demonstrations, protests, and police response (using footage of Khrushchev and Castro, Muhammad, and crowd control practice at Rodman’s Neck)
Ticker Tape Paradesand Police Presence (using footage from the John Glenn parade in 1962 and the L. Gordon Cooper, Jr. parade in 1963 to help illustrate police presence at ticker tape parades throughout the years. In order to present this as an exhibit, would probably need to find additional films that highlight policemen stationed on parade routes)
Training at the Police Academy(using some of the training films I watched for this project to show how and what the Academy taught its students throughout the years and how officer training developed over time)
Recommendations for better housing and preservation of film collection:
To improve the quality and condition of the film collection, I am offering the Museum several feasible recommendations. Most of these recommendations are costless, and merely rely on a minimal amount of initial effort. Some of the suggestions have a nominal fee attached but I am confident that the outcome will far outweigh the cost involved.
Remove or Rehouse AMA films:
Because of the limited space with which the Museum operates as well as the fact that the films were never formally accessioned, I propose that the American Management Association films be removed from the collection. The containers’ interior foam lining seems to have absorbed the acetic acid released from the film during its decay and retains a far stronger smell than does the film itself. Designed to teach leaders how to effectively manage individuals and organizations, though they were once used in recruit training, these films have no other connection to the Police Department. I do not believe that because they were once shown to classrooms of recruits they retain enduring value for the Museum.
Before contacting AMA, I would suggest the films be offered back to the Police Academy. Though I am not sure if strategies for management have changed since these films were produced, I imagine newer and now better quality films are available (and used at the Academy). I do not believe the films have enduring value for the Museum nor do I think keeping them as a testament to how recruits were trained to manage and guide others warrants their continued storage. AMA still exists; I believe they should be contacted and the films returned if the company wants to receive them. If the Museum does, in fact, want to keep the AMA films, I recommend that they be replaced into different containers without foam padding.
Temperature and Relative Humidity:
Though this is already in practice, the air conditioning should remain on during the summer (and for as long as necessary throughout the year) and the heat should not be turned on in the room during the winter to maintain an environment as close to ideal standards as possible. According to the Library of Congress Care, Handling and Storage of Motion Picture Film recommendations, films should be stored at a temperature no greater than 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 50% Relative Humidity. Under ideal conditions, they should be kept at 37 degrees F and 20-30% RH. Especially during the summer, it might be necessary to install a dehumidifier in the room to reduce the humidity likely present as a result of New York City’s summer climate.
Box and Film Rearrangement:
Because no inventory existed to guide the organization of the boxes, reels were merely placed where they fit. Now that a detailed description exists for half the collection, and a working inventory is being created for the rest, the boxes can be arranged with greater respect to organization. In doing so, I propose that:
All films must be stored flat. When I first opened the boxes, some of the films were on their sides or wedged into the box diagonally.
Films that I have watched should remain separate from those that have not yet been viewed. By separating the films, it will be clear not only from the TMS database but also from the actual box rearrangement which films have yet to be viewed and logged. Once films are watched (I would like to continue viewing films), they can be transferred into a box with ‘already viewed’ films and their specific box number changed in the TMS database.
Test for Vinegar Syndrome:
A-D Strips are an inexpensive and efficient method of determining the approximate deterioration of the film and the level of acetic acid released. The Police Museum should invest in a box of A-D Strips. For only $60, a box of 250 strips can be purchased from the Image Permanence Institute. Once the films are tested with the A-D strips and a more accurate gauge of their deterioration is known (more accurate than my olfactory ability to notice a vinegar smell), appropriate rearrangement of the films can be undertaken. If any of the films register at Poor or Critical levels, they should be removed from the others and, if possible (I am not sure if this would be feasible for the Museum) stored in a freezer. Copying those films at Critical level is advisable, but likely not feasible based on the Museum’s finances and resources.
House Loose Films:
Though most films are housed in metal or plastic cans or containers, a few reels are stored unprotected. One of these turned out to be a fascinating film about a supposed Soviet spy town in Vynnizia, Ukraine. If empty cans do not exist, additional cans should be ordered to house and protect these films.
Film cans should be relabeled with New York City Police Museum labels. Though some cans already have labels, it is important to maintain uniformity. I leave this up to the Registrar to determine whether all cans should be labeled or only those whose films I watched. However, there needs to be a method of marking the accession number on all the cans. The Museum uses tags to identify item numbers; the problem with this method is there is no place on a can to tie the tag and placing the tag inside the can risks the chance it could fall out when the can is opened. If nothing else, the tag should be taped or in some other way secured to the outside of the can.
Clean the metal cans:
Unlike the plastic containers padded with foam and housing the AMA films, the metal cans do not need to be replaced. However, the covers of many of these cans are extremely dirty and dusty. After handling the cans my fingers were covered with dark patches of dirt. Though the dirt is not seeping through the can and harming the film, if time permits, the outside of the cans can be wiped down with a damp cloth. If this is to be done, it is crucial that the films must be removed prior to the cleaning and not returned until the cans are bone dry. Moisture can and will harm the film. In doing this, one must be very careful to replace the films into their appropriate cans. Otherwise, the labels will no longer match the reels.
I hope and believe the work I have done will be of value and am glad to have had the opportunity to work with and for the Police Museum. I hope to continue to be of service.
Bibliography Secondary Sources:
Astor, Gerald. The New York Cops: An Informal History. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons,
Bobo, Jacqueline, Cynthia Hudley, and Claudine Michel. The Black Studies Reader. New York:
Costello, Augustine, E. Our Police Protectors: History of the New York Police from the Earliest
Period to the Present Time. C.F. Roper, published by the author. 1885.
Green, James J. and Alfred Young. A History of the New York City Police Department: Colonial Times to the Consolidation of the Greater City of New York. Unpublished, undated.
Lankevich, George L. American Metropolis: A History of New York City. New York: NYU
“New Films for Range.” Spring 3100, Vol. 28, No. 11, December 1957.
Police Training and Performance Study. New York City Police Department. U.S. Department of
Richardson, James F. The New York Police: Colonial Times to 1901. New York: Oxford
University Press, 1970.
Young, Alfred. History of the Police Academy. Unpublished.
Police Academy brochure, undated, from New York City Police Museum.
New York City Police Department brochure given to me by a department official from the