In 1829, Sir Robert Peel established the Metropolitan Police Force in London, England, based at Scotland Yard. These 1,000 constables were the world’s first police officers. They were nicknamed ‘Bobbies’ or “Peelers” and were the direct forerunners of today’s modern policing.
This new concept of Policing quickly made its way to Pre-Confederation Canada. On February 13, 1833, the Town of Hamilton was established by a statute of Upper Canada. The first Board of Police meeting took place at the Hamilton Court House on Monday, March 11th of that year. Under the direction of the Board of Police, High Bailiff John Ryckman was appointed to keep the peace, thus establishing him as Hamilton's first Police Officer. Hamilton was one of the first communities to adopt the concepts of Sir Robert Peel.
In 1848 Dundas created its own police agency. In 1850, the Police Village of Ancaster followed suit to complete the trio of area pre-Confederation police departments. In August 1940, the Township of Saltfleet established a Constabulary to patrol its increasingly urban territory, and in 1949, in the wake of the post-war boom, Stoney Creekfollowed suit.
Other area police departments appear to have included the Township of Glanbrook, Barton Township, Glanford Township (which may have been very short-lived), Flamborough, East Flamborough, Waterdown, Hamilton Beach, Hamilton Harbour Police, and Hamilton Parks Police.
Over the years, many of these small departments were disbanded. Their territory was either taken over by the Ontario Provincial Police, or they amalgamated with other departments as municipalities merged or entered into joint agreements.
In the 1960s, the provincial government removed policing from direct municipal control by establishing independent Police Commissions. Policing was no longer a ‘department’ of city hall.
On December 31st 1973, there were only five Municipal departments remaining, including Hamilton, Stoney Creek, Ancaster, Dundas, and Saltfleet. On January 1, 1974, these police forces were merged into one Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police Force under its own Board of Commissioners of Police. On February 22, 1986, the Hamilton Harbour Police was disbanded and its function taken over by the Hamilton Wentworth Regional Police Force.
On January 1, 2001, the communities of Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough, Glanbrook, Stoney Creek and Hamilton merged to become the ‘new’ City of Hamilton. At the same time, the Hamilton Wentworth Regional Police merged to become one Hamilton Police Service.
Hamilton is situated on the western end of Lake Ontario. The Hamilton Police Service patrols an area of 1,113 sq. kms. and serves a population of over 540,000 residents (Land use Base Data & GRIDS). In 2013, we deployed 797 police officers and 282.5 civilian members, and responded to approximately 80,000 calls for service. The 2013 operating budget for the Hamilton Police Service was $140,414,620.
The history of our Police service has played an integral role in the evolution of Policing in Hamilton today. We are continuously learning about our history. We invite you to share any information that you may have about the history of the Hamilton Police Service by emailing our service historian at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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