Currency cop broken: Meet High Constable Jacob Hays, New York’s Forgotten Jewish Super Cop

Before 1845, when the New York Police Department was established to bring oversight and structure to the city’s laws, order was maintained by an informal and unprofessional class of constables, two elected for each ward and one high constable for the whole city selected by the mayor. These men, who took turns performing these unpaid offices while keeping their day jobs, were mostly a far cry from police academy material, seeing the job as a chore or an opportunity for enrichment by way of collecting rewards on stolen goods. The remarkable exception to this rule was Jacob Hays, a native New Yorker of Jewish extraction who invented his own form of police work and transformed the menial — if impressive to contemporary ears — post of high constable into a position of authority. Hays made police work a career before such a vocation was conceivable and achieved an international profile in the process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *