Before the turn of the century, Marshals and Constables kept the peace in Bogota and went out in force on Saturday Night Patrol. County officers provided protection until March 12, 1895 when the newly organized Council of the Borough of Bogota appointed Eli Coulson as its first Marshal.
Following several burglaries and the West Shore Freight cars being vandalized, Mayor Frederick Crane and the Council appointed a Vigilante Committee made up of 35 Marshals and a Captain. A roundup was conducted on Saturday nights when tramps and vagrants sleeping in hay mows and barns were arrested and marched off to the lockup which was Mayor Crane's ice house... If the prisoner had committed a serious offense, he was taken to the County Court House to be tried. If he were a tramp, he was given coffee and buns at the Mayor's expense and run out of town. Police protection expanded slowly as the Borough grew.
In 1920, an ordinance authorizing an organized Police Department was adopted. Charles Winters was appointed Chief of Police with three patrolmen to assist him. Police Headquarters were set up in the Borough Hall with the Borough Clerk answering the telephone until 5:00 p.m. when a patrolman came on duty. From 1920 until today, the Police Department has grown with the town. It has its own Headquarters in the Borough Hall complex with modern equipment assisting it in the increasingly complex service that is today's Police Department. Under Chief John Burke, the Bogota Police Department is staffed with a Captain, five Sergeants, 9 Patrolman for a total of 16 . Two of the 16 patrol officers are assigned to the Detective Bureau. In addition, the Police Department mans the desk and dispatch operation with 4 full time and as many part time dispatchers as needed. The Records Bureau is staffed by a full time Administrative Assistant.
Today's equipment includes a vehicle fleet of seven marked patrol cars and two unmarked vehicles for surveillance work. Each of the marked units has a radar unit, mobile camera and a mobile laptop. The mobile laptops provides a link from the patrol vehicle to local, State and Federal criminal information systems, as well as Motor Vehicle records. Along the same lines, the Police Department has installed an in-house computer LAN system that links important emergency response information with Fire Department and Emergency Management files to better serve the residents during major disaster type incidents. The purchase of modern equipment has improved communications and the ability to better protect the community. Each vehicle also carries necessary basic life support equipment and first aid equipment. Defibrillators have become standard pieces of equipment.
Semi-automatic weapons have replaced the six-shot revolvers as the issued sidearm to provide the officer with a necessary defense against the more sophisticated weaponry used by criminals. Bullet proof vests/body armor is now mandatory standard issue for Bogota officers.
The nature of Police work and its changes are most obvious through the various programs initiated by the Department to assist the residents. Some programs such as S.N.A.P. (State Narcotics Action Plan), C.A.T. (Combat Auto Theft), D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), Safe Neighborhoods, to name a few, are ever changing to meet the needs of the community. Many of the programs in effect in the 1960's: School Safety Patrols, Bicycle Safety, and Pedestrian Safety, continue today and remain very effective in solidifying public relations with community youth and seniors alike. Officers are continually attending courses and seminars to keep abreast of mandated changes in the laws and procedures that have become so complicated.
Calls for service number have averaged approximately 16,000 per year and the nature and type of those calls has changed significantly. Officers are trained in a diversity of areas to better address the more complex problems confronting the community. Dispatching procedures for Police and other Bogota Emergency services have also become very sophisticated with the innovations of a variety of paging devices. Mutual Aid cooperative agreements and the specialization of services have increased communications to a point where an additional Desk Officer is frequently required to handle the volume of calls in many situations.