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In 1871, when the Yonkers Police Department was formally organized, there was an established set of relatively strict rules and regulations that members were required to adhere to. Any failure to comply with these rules was very often met with harsh punishment and penalties being placed against the offending police officer. Having no group or organization to act as an advocate for the police officer, it is likely that those penalties were not always dispensed in a fair and just manner. In addition, the working schedules for the police officer in those early days were very difficult on family life, allowing very little time off. It is likely for these and many other reasons, including the natural tendency to join together with others of mutual interest, it was decided to form an organization which could benefit its members.

Yonkers Police boat

Once it had been decided that the organization to be established should be incorporated, the application for certification was filed in Westchester County Court with the following language: “The name of the proposed corporation is: POLICE ASSOCIATION OF THE CITY OF YONKERS, INC.” and that, “The particular objects and purposes for which the corporation is to be formed are as follows; To promote the welfare of its members, aid them in need, for their mutual benefit and protection.

“The number of its directors shall be five (5), consisting of one member from Police Headquarters, and one member from each precinct in the City of Yonkers, and said directors are said to be known as trustees. The name and places of residence of the persons to be its directors until its first annual meeting are as follows;

  • PO George A. Ford 25 Highland Avenue
  • PO William A. Kruppenbacher 7 Lincoln Street
  • PO Michael J. Gilmartin 46 Oak Street
  • PO Abraham Beck 41 Hawthorne Avenue
  • PO David J. Davis 48 Morningside Avenue

“The date for holding its annual meeting shall be: The first business day in the month of March of each year.”

The application for incorporation was signed and acknowledged as witnesses by the following members: William Kruppenbacher, David J. Davis, Joseph F. Sullivan, Thomas F. Combs, Abraham Beck, John W. Littlefair, John J. Boylan, George A. Ford, Michael J. Gilmartin, James J. Brazil, Thomas F. Downey, John F. Dahill, and Dennis A. Cooper.


On September 8, 1916, A. S. Tompkins, Justice of the Supreme Court, Westchester County, N.Y., approved and signed the certificate of incorporation for the Yonkers Police Association.


Yonkers Police Benevolent Association

The following year, on February 15, 1917, the Y.P.A. held their first annual entertainment and dinner dance reception at Philipsburgh Hall on Hudson Street. The event had been scheduled several months earlier but had to be postponed due to a city wide strike by trolley car operators. In order to prevent any violence on the picket lines, police officers were detailed to locations all over the city. This strike caused our Yonkers Police Officers to work many extra hours. (Of course no overtime was paid in those years.) When the reception was held, nearly 1200 people attended filling every seat in the hall, including most standing room. Lt. Dennis Cooper, Chairman of the arrangements committee, estimated that the gross receipts exceeded $3,000. Whatever funds remaining after expenses was donated to the Yonkers Police Pension Fund.

The hall was reportedly decorated with evergreens and potted ferns, along with American flags which were draped conspicuously. Over the stage was a large framed photograph of Public Safety Commissioner James J. Fleming, on either side of which an American flag was also draped. All attending members of the police department were directed to be present in dress uniform, and as the newspaper reported,…. “Their presence added a touch of the Military.” Each person who attended received a souvenir program and a metal “badge,” inscribed on each were the words, “Police Headquarters 4900.” This was the 4 digit telephone number of our department at the time, the 963 exchange would not come for many years. In addition, all guests of the Police Association were presented with blue ribbons. I am quite sure that Police Association President Patrolman John J. Dahill personally welcomed everyone to the gala event.

Vaudeville style entertainment, which had been scheduled, began at 9:00 PM and continued until 11:00 PM. The entertainers were described as being “high class”, with banjo music by the Bolger Brothers; comedy by “Duffy Rise,” & Leonard and Whitaker; and a variety of songs by many, including long time friend and former Police Officer William O’Mara. Following the entertainment phase, the chairs were all moved to open a dance floor in the center of the room where many danced until the early morning hours to the music of “Walsh’s Orchestra.” Refreshments, “solely of the light sort”, were available throughout the evening on the lower floor.

The hall was not only filled with nearly the entire Yonkers Police Department, but also present were local and state politicians, representatives of the fire department, the judiciary, influential businessmen with their wives, and other prominent citizens. Lt. Dennis Cooper and his committee apparently did an outstanding job, as was evidenced by the number of people who attended. It is also worthy of note that the printed program that was distributed to all guests contained a memoriam for three police officers who died the previous year: Capt. George Cooley who died from a heart attack, and Police Officers Dennis McElroy and Wilfred Matthews, both of whom died as a result of injuries sustained in the line of duty only weeks apart. I think that this gathering of 1200 people, hosted by the Police Association was, even by today’s standards, an outstanding success.


Yonkers Police car

The first president of the Police Association who was elected in 1916 was “Patrolman” John F. Dahill. Born March 13, 1874 in Hartford Conn., Dahill came to Yonkers around 1902. When he received his appointment as a police officer on January 1, 1908, he worked on foot patrol in the 1st precinct, at the time located on Wells Avenue. The strict police discipline he encountered was not a problem to him at all. John Dahill had served in the Army during the Spanish American War from May to October 1898, and subsequently with the Army National Guard for seven (7) years. In 1916, following a great effort, the Yonkers Police Association was organized. No doubt due to Dahill’s tireless efforts and dedication to this new organization, he was elected as the YPA’s first president and was dubbed the “Father Of The Police Association.” On June 10, 1918 Dahill was assigned to the Detective Bureau. Four years later on February 18, 1922, when he was promoted to the rank of sergeant, he was allowed to remain a detective sergeant. At that time, due to specialized training he had received, he was designated the police departments fingerprint expert. However, in January 1926 he was reassigned to patrol duties in the 2nd pct. On May 17, 1926 Dahill was once again promoted, this time to the rank of Lieutenant. A past president of the Police Association for the years 1916, 1917, 1918, a noted police revolver expert, and a police recruit instructor, Lt. John J. Dahill died April 18, 1927.

Two officers with man on street

Although initially this new organizations board members were neither allowed time off to conduct association business, nor were they provided a room to hold their meetings, with resolute determination they set about the business of attending to the welfare and needs of all its members and their families.

Today the former Yonkers Police Association (YPA), later renamed the Yonkers “Police Benevolent Association” (PBA), continues to serve as an advocate and effective voice for its entire membership. And while working to foster a spirit of camaraderie amongst its members, it also works toward developing a greater understanding, mutual respect, and a helpful relationship with the citizens its members serve so proudly.

Researched and prepared by;
Deputy Chief George E. Rutledge (Ret.)
Police Department Historian