A Brief History of the Mounted Police Association of Greater New York, Inc. & Ban of Honorary Members of Police Associations

 

In the first decade of the twentieth century, The Police Department of the City of New York (PDNY) permitted the formation of its first fraternal organization. On August 4, 1909, The Traffic Squad Benevolent Association of the Police Department of the City of New York was incorporated. The Traffic Squad of the PDNY, formed in 1904, was comprised of the men assigned to the squad, which was initially comprised of Traffic post and Mounted (horse) officers.

Other fraternal organizations would follow, including the Mounted Police Association of Greater New York (MPA). In 1906, the MPA was formed. In its first year, the MPA enrolled 150 members. Two years later, there were 700 and in 1926, 1000 members. Membership was open to police officers assigned to the Bicycle, Mounted and Motorcycle Squads. After several years, Honorary Membership was offered to prominent men in the business and financial sectors, as well as others.

The MPA held monthly meetings in various restaurants and hotels in the city and Annual Banquets and Dinner Dances in large venues.  typically, like other fraternal organizations, the Annual Banquets were held after the conclusion of the Annual Police Parades which were typically held in the month of May. It is not yet clear who the initial President of the Association was, however, early as 1912, and as late as 1936, Patrolman John C. Uminger, Traffic A, served as President.

The First Annual Dinner was attended by 350 of the 500 members. A special tribute was held recognizing William F. King “whose influence had been responsible for the formation of the Mounted Squad.” The menu for the lavish event, which was held at Healey’s, 66th St. and Columbus Ave., was shaped like a horse with a Mounted Patrolman riding the same.  Year after year, the events were attended by larger and larger crowds. Typically the mayor, elected officials on the city, state and federal levels, the Police Commissioner and his Deputies, as well as prominent businessmen attended and were lauded and/or addressed the crowds. In 1908, the 300 guests clapped, banged silverware on their plates, and “when they felt in a particularly demonstrative mood,” they blew their police (cylindrical) whistles!

 

As was the case with other fraternal organizations of the period, guests received small tokens of appreciation from the association such as medallions on ribbons. In the case of the MPA, more valuable gifts, donated by Honorary Members who were wealthy, were presented to the officers who participated in the Annual Police Field Day events. These events were well attended by citizens who saw the Bicycle, Motorcycle and Mounted officers perform stunts and various maneuvers. For years, the events were held at Sheepshead Bay. Receipts benefited the Widows Pension Fund. Some of the pricier gifts included 500 gold watches, valued at $100 each; gold and ruby stickpins, and fine leather suit cases.

At a regular meeting held on April 13, 1925, a new class of Honorary Members were inducted. As was the custom, the new members were required to ride “an electric horse” for a certain amount of time. The event, was broadcast live on civilian radio station WNYC, 526 on the AM dial. Whether or not the electric horse rides were broadcasted is unknown.

On October 12, 1925, Acting Captain John A. McAuliffe proposed a change in the name of the MPA to the “Police Cavalry.” While this term appears in various records and newspapers of the period, it does not appear that the name of the organization changed. An amendment to the By-Laws increased the retirement/separation benefit for members from $300 to $350.  On April 17, 1926, women were invited to attend the Annual Banquet, held at the Hotel Commodore, for the first time. The dinner was attended by 1,700 members and guests. 

Police Commissioner Bans Honorary Members From All Fraternal Organizations:

On June 23, 1934, Police Commissioner John F. O’Ryan and Chief Inspector Lewis Valentine promulgated an order which had a huge impact on the approximately thirty fraternal organizations. Believing that the material and financial donations made by Honorary Members were tantamount to “honest graft,” PC O’Ryan ordered that all associations revoke the membership of their Honorary Members. “The commissioner expressed his thanks for the loyal and zealous support” of the organizations, which “decided” to recall all Honorary Membership cards and shields. The Detectives Endowment Association lost eighty-three Honorary Members; the Police Square Club (Masonic), twenty-seven. The Shomrim (Jewish), Columbia (Italian), Lieutenants, Sergeants, Glee, Traffic Squad, and Mounted Police entities had a total 392 members recalled.

After 1939, little evidence of the activities or existence of the MPA was found. It appears that the MPA today is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation with “Mark Brady” listed as its President.

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