Baltimore City Police
Wagons in a Pinch
Sun Paper Jun 29th 1949
BY FIRST HAND TESTIMONIAL, Baltimore’s new police wagons are vehicles in which their passengers are proud to ride. They are roomier, more fordable, faster, of smarter design and, in dozens of other ways, a world of improvement over the department's former free transportation fleet. The enthusiasm of the passengers is appreciated, but not unexpected Lieut. Leroy Kues, director of the department garage, had the patrons' comfort high in mind when he designed the new model. The new wagons are in service now at most of the department's eight district station houses. By October they will have replaced all of the old vehicles, most of which have been in continuous service since the 1930's.
MECHANICALLY speaking the new wagon Is a streamlined, all-steel detention compartment of "teardrop" design mounted on the light. low chassis of a six-cylinder truck. The new chassis provides a "floating ride," police say, in welcome contrast to the old wagon, "which rides like a stone truck." The new compartment. constructed and mounted by the same Baltimore carriage firm that made the old wagons, is sold as I did that it can be lifted from a worn out chassis and mounted on the new one. Its service expectancy is roughly that of four or five chassis or about 20 years. The most apparent improvement or those that have been made out of consideration for the passengers. The facing bench seats or panel made out of oak that goes between the detention compartment and are considerably larger than the old vehicle. There’s more room between them. They could seat up to a dozen passengers comfortably.
IN A PINCH the old wagons accommodated a dozen passengers. But they had to sit six to a side with their knees interlocking in the narrow aisle between them.
This made for an uncomfortable ride at best. That is even if the passengers were no more than casual acquaintances. When the passenger list included participants from both sides of the street brawl, the cramped quarters presented a situation that age two men before their time. The late models for a mere interior also provides a new convenience for the in disposable Saturday night passenger traffic. It accommodates for persons at full length. Lights in a detention compartment of the new wagon are sunken into the marine plywood paneling. In the old model, they were protruded from the ceiling and many a customer has complained about bumping his head against them. Other popular innovations of the new model or its loading platform and entrance. These are wider, lower an illuminated by the tail light. It was impossible for the passengers to enter the old wagon with any degree of grace and dignity. Particularly if the passenger was a lady. Negotiation of the 228 in steps could be affected and only by the use of both hands, considerable exertion and the help of a policeman. On some of the tavern rates it took two policemen. But the new wagon has in 18 ends. Then a 14 and step which can be mounted easily and casually without assistance. The riding qualities of the whole vehicle had been improved by double action shock absorbers
STRUCTURAL changes have also been made for a more contented police force. The new wagon Carries this or and under the hood. Away from the weather, the old wheezers were mounted on the outside and would not sound off at full power after a hard rain. The wagon had to pull up to emergency trailing a thin pitiful wail that added an error of frustration to the whole arrest. Furthermore the siren tone that emanates from the hood of the new wagon is a sharp, shrill cry of authority that doesn’t whimper for, but demands, the right of way. An improvement in the design of the foot men’s handrail at the rear of the new vehicle had safety and convenience to the man on duty there. On a cold type wagon, the handrails rammed the full perpendicular height of the rear. Protesting, passengers sometimes grasped the rail, lifted themselves up and lashed out with their heels at the policeman behind them. A man once Lawson high that way. Several others lost teeth, a nephew suffered broken noses. On the new wagon, the rails are shorter to prevent this sort of thing.
THE NEW MODEL has a built in buzzer system from the foot men’s position to the chauffeur. For nearly an hour these men shouted instruction to each other. The signal system is expected to result in more efficient starts and stops and add to the general comfort of the passenger by eliminating a lot of police department shoptalk and from them. Improvements to the chauffeur’s cab give the new model about 25% more flour and seat space and then the old. In the crowd model that is being retired, even policemen of average build had to squeeze themselves and carefully to get behind in the steering wheel. But sergeants can drive the new vehicle.
THE SQUARE SET WINDSHIELD and clapping side curtain of the old model wagon held the chauffeur’s visibility to a minimum, even in clear weather. The new vehicle has conventional wide truck windows in the cab and a clean windshield with about 20° pitch. The spare tire that once rode the front left fender and prevented the show for prince wing and his door wide open is now carried in a compartment beneath the rear quarter the driver’s door is also wider so that he no longer has to back out of his cab to help with an arrest. Construction of the new type wagon is the fourth major improvement made in the Police Department's free-transportation system. During the first years of the department, hale customers were walked in to see the desk lieutenant. Indisposed ones were trundled by wheelbarrow.
LATER HORSE·DRAWN WAGON was put into service. That was a high-wheeled, open-air delivery-type wagon equipped with a driver, a span of good horses and two nimble footmen to bring back those customers who vaulted over the side and made a break for freedom. Shackles final1y were added to the wagon, for the more difficult passengers. At the turn of the century, when Central district headquarters was on North street (now Guilford avenue), an electric runabout supplemented the horse-drawn vehicles and a few wheelbarrows. The horses and barrows made runs while the electric runabout was out of service-it had to plug in at the Station house and recharge for an hour after each trip. The first motorized vehicles used on a large scale by the department- they were introduced a few years before the First World War - were of about the same design as those now being retired.
THERE ARE POLICE in BALTIMORE who claim that the retiring wagons operated on ten percent gasoline, 30 per cent memory and 60 per cent sense of duty. That isn't entirely true but the claim is understandable. All of the old wagons had exhausted their sets of valves and cylinders until the police mechanics lost count.
The wagon in the Southwestern district, the one some or the policemen called Eleanor, had 293.900 miles to her credit. Her crankshaft became grooved so deeply that the department mechanics had to turn the whole shaft down to 90/l000ths of an inch undersize. That cut down her limping to a great extent, but she continued to suffer from an asthmatic condition until she died at the scrap-yard. The demise of Bronchial Bill and Old Hopeful at other stations followed similar illnesses.
ALREADY THE WAGON set is referring to the new vehicle as Black Maria. That is a title all police vehicles fall heir to, but now the title has a note of respect. One of the first passengers asked the footman if the ride in the new machine would cost him extra when he faced the magistrate. When Southwestern’s new wagon made its first run to the House of Correction. Several inmates who had been taken there just a week earlier were resentful because they had been hauled in "the old stone-wagon." But there's little call for quibbling now. The new wagon will be here for the next twenty years, and the police say there'll be a chance for everybody.
In an article entitled
Baltimore Police to Ditch Lockup Vans
Photo Courtesy Det Kenny Driscoll
Shot on Broadway, obviously two pictures put together for a unique look
Brian Kuebler wrote BALTIMORE - Citing efficiency and safety, the Baltimore Police Department is making yet another visible change in its division by eventually decreasing the use of prisoner transport vans. This information comes as a surprise to many of the members of Baltimore’s division, as they fear the safety issues are not at the root of this change. Having worked myself, I happen to know if ever there was a concern for officer safety it is not while the prisoner is in a wagon behind, or in front of an officer's vehicle, so much as it is with the prisoner in the vehicle a little less than 2ft behind the officer. There are instances of prisoners vomiting, urinating, and or defecating on themselves in the vehicle, or having concealed weapons that could be used to stab, or shoot the officer from behind. So this could be, and most likely is more than an officer safety issue, and is most likely an issue of budget. Either way, safety or budget, it is not about, nor will it affect (in a positive light) officer morale. He went to say The cage equipped vans, or wagons as they are commonly referred, are used to transport suspects from the scene of a crime or an arrest. Often Baltimore Police would process and handcuff suspects before calling and waiting on a transport vehicle. They are more commonly known as “” by the public, a derogatory term aimed at the Irish dating back to the 1800s in New York. While there is some truth to this, in that is was aimed at the police most of whom were Irish, and from the time period of the 1800's, but the location is off, it was Boston, not New York, and at the time we pretty much all used "Horse Drawn Wagons", hence the term "Wagon" of course the police at the times were mostly Irish, so yes, it was a "Paddy Wagon". When I was on in the late 80's to early 2000, we still called it a "Wagon", we used a box truck type wagon, muck like an ambo, and we called it Wagon, short for "Paddy Wagon" also as an Irishman, I don't think it is derogatory, in fact as a retired Officer, of Irish decent, I am proud to have come from a background of Strong Irish Law enforcement officers, known for fighting crime. The article continued with - But that is not why modern day Baltimore Police are doing away with their frequent use. In Brian's investigation into this story he learned from Lt. Eric Kowolczyk the cars, will all become PTV's (Prisoner Transport Vehicles) something we used to call "Cage Cars" talk about derogatory, it was called this because the first cage cars, were made up simply by putting a thin cage between the officer's and their prisoners. Often spit would fly between the cage, and toward the officers, so the cage was replaced with Plexiglas to prevent anything, spit, blood or other bodily fluids from being thrown at, or on the police. So when Lt. Kowolczyk said, “In our new vehicles we have made a number of changes and upgrades regarding equipment and tools that will assist our officers in the crime fight. One of those changes will be partitions in the vehicles. These partitions will assist in ensuring the safety of those involved in the arrest, as well in expediting the event itself. They will still allow for complete mobility within the vehicle,” We learn this is more about economics than safety, this is nothing new, it is more of the same old "Cage Car" prisoner transport of the late 80's early 90's - Which is confirmed with the final line - Prisoner transport instead will be done more with individual cars.
2017 January 7th
Broadway in Southeast District
From here they went on to say the following which talks about the vehicle's paint scheme - and for this they, write - ABC2News was the first to reveal the new design Baltimore Police squad cars. Starting with about 30 vehicles in the most recent procurement process, Baltimore will be switching to black colored Chevrolet Caprices with a blue logo. Baltimore is not new to the black car, it hasn't been black for awhile, but black is not new to BPD; in the 20's we had black cars, in the 30's, the 40's the 50's, 60's and then sometime in the mid 60's we moved away from black cars, along came the some blue and whites; that carried into the 70's before we went to the white car, the white car swapped stripe patterns a few times. In the early 90's we used a powder blue ford, it didn't last long before we would go back to the white, with a much nicer decal design, and the modern badge on the door in place of the shoulder patch, or police logo. The Commissioner (Anthony Batts) said the officers themselves chose the design, and it was done to boost morale, in the quote he said, "When they are in those cars, that is their office for eight to ten hours a day, that is their office so what I did is I allowed them to design what they wanted out of their police cars" The article went on as follows pointing out things that most followers of the department have said, and BTW liked about the new design, The logo is modeled after the one seen on the department’s choppers and mobile command units. But the change isn’t in just the look of the vehicles. The cages will be installed in the squad cars so that the driver’s seat may be maneuvered for comfort, a simple feature some officers said was not available in all previous iterations of Baltimore Police cars. "We had already prepared to bring in about 165 cars. Some of those will be white because we didn't have time to change up the colors but we are looking to start to have all the cars go to the shape and style that the officers had asked for," the commissioner said. As the new squad cars take to the streets, the more prisoner transport vehicles will come off. It is unclear if there is any timeline for the complete switchover, but the police department says ultimately the move will make policing more efficient and eliminate wait times when a wagon is called. “While wagons remain a vital part of our deployment these newer vehicles, and the resources they provide, are adding to the efficiency and safety of both officers and citizens,” Kowolczyk said. Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1880'S HORSE DRAWN WAGON
Pictured above late 1800's-early 1900's Baltimore Police horse drawn carriage.
COURTESY BALTIMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT
1890's Wagon Purchased for BPD Museum
Photo courtesy Sergeant Robert Fisher
Photo Courtesy Sergeant Robert Fisher
Photo courtesy Sergeant Robert Fisher
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
Courtesy Gary and Kath Lapchak
Car Logo - 1985
There were two assigned to each of the nine police districts.
BALTIMORE POLICE DOOR SHIELDS
Cage Cars aka Prisoner Transport Vehicles (PTV)
John Szuba Told us Facebook BPD friends that when he was the vehicle coordinator for the division. He said they conducted tests to see if anyone could get their hand around the "Cage" and attack the Driver. They tried over a half a dozen styles of cages and on everyone. The test was to see if someone in the backseat could reach around and grab at the driver's neck, or could kick out the partition separating back from the front. (These were with the Chevy Impalas). The cage in the Ford Crown Vic was solid but Ford phased out these models and Ford would not loan the new Interceptor to the Department to conduct a test to see if it met Departmental needs. They could only test the Dodge Charger and the Chevy Impala than the Caprice. Officer Szuba said at the time he couldn't sign off on new cage car because he didn't think it was safe for the Officer who would drive it. He went on to say, he, "believe the Prisoner Transport Vans (Wagons) were safer for all concerned". and he personally liked the Old Box style Wagons ....(I agree with his, I also liked the old box wagons better) John went on to say, they were self-contained heat and air for the prisoners and the Drivers air wasn't recycled from the back of the wagon like the Van style.... (This was nice, because it reduced airborne paths that could lead to illness) but it was deemed too expensive. We all I hope the Department conducted a test on the "New" cages....Officer Safety should always be first.
Black Maria/Paddy wagon
You have the right to remain confounded.
Detectives, come in all shapes, and all sizes, Criminal Detective, History Detective, Medical, and now Word Detectives: All looking for answers, all listening to the clues. Paying attention not to what they want a word to mean, but what it means, do the clues match up with the era, the location, and most importantly the language. So let’s look at a few terms, a few rules, a few rumors, and most importantly a new fact. In the early 1900’s a Prisoner Transport Vehicle, most commonly known today as a “Paddy Wagon”, were often called a “Black Maria” in this country and even in London England… In this article, we will investigate the term “Black Maria” as referred to in relation to the “Paddy Wagon” here in the states. However, it has been said that there have been stories written in Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s books referring to a black car used by the KGB (Russia) for police to secretly take away prisoners in the middle of the night. It has often been wondered where the term came from, rumors have been started; we should note, normally when a rumor comes up that is was a person, and that person exists in similar life form, both in Boston and in Liverpool! Most often, that person is fiction. But for now we will hold judgment until further investigation, as with any investigation, the clues, the evidence, or the facts, might not always go where we want to go, so let’s sit back and let them take us, where they might.
A “Black Maria” is, as they used to say, a police van, truck, or similar conveyance used to transport prisoners most often to jail, holding, prison, or to a court appearance, and it is worth noting at the outset that “Maria” in this case is pronounced “mah-RYE-ah,” like Mariah Carey (as this was most common in the 19th century, not “mah-REE-ah.” Then again, “usually” it is a bit of a stretch because few have heard the term spoken aloud in decades. “Paddy Wagon” is far more common.
As is common when phrases involving personal names, a number of theories have been devised, proposed at tracing “Black Maria,” a term which first appeared in print around 1835, to actual people named Maria. A fella by the name of Michael Quinion, has it on his website (www.worldwidewords.org), that two such theories suggested by his readers. One, centering on an upper-class woman of 19th century London, known for wearing splendid black dresses. That version fails due to the simple fact that “Black Maria” is indisputable of American origin. The other, of a large African-American woman named Maria who ran a Boston boarding house and assisted the police in apprehending fugitives, this is too cute for most reads taste and, more importantly, doesn’t explain why a Boston woman would have appeared in New York City.
The most credible theory yet advanced of the origin of “Black Maria” does tie the phrase to an actual “Maria,” but not a human. “Black Maria” was a famous racehorse of the day, born in Harlem in 1826, whose exploits were widely celebrated in the newspapers. It seems entirely plausible that the name of the horse thereafter would be sarcastically applied to the police carriages, which were not long before pulled by horses, and now are often made by the same wagon/carriage makers, and usually colored black, which swiftly transported miscreants to jail.
Note: found elsewhere on the internet - Black Maria, a slang term for a police van used to transport prisoners, originally these were horse-drawn and so could take some time to arrive at a crime scene. “Black Maria” was a famous racehorse of the day, born in Harlem USA in 1826. The name was sardonically applied to the police carriages (which were also usually colored black).
Incidentally, “Paddy Wagon” takes its name from “Paddy,” a familiar form of the name Patrick (from the Irish form, Padraic or Padraig), which was used in early 20th century America as a derogatory term for Irish immigrants. One might assume that this use is similarly derogatory, referring to a supposed propensity of Irish-Americans being arrested, but big city police forces of the period were themselves composed largely of Irish-Americans, so the term may well have simply referred to a wagon driven by “the paddies,” i.e., the police.
Copies of: Your Baltimore Police Department Class Photo, Pictures of our Officers, Vehicles, Equipment, Newspaper Articles relating to our department and or officers, Old Departmental Newsletters, Lookouts, Wanted Posters, and or Brochures. Information on Deceased Officers and anything that may help Preserve the History and Proud Traditions of this agency. Please contact Retired Detective Kenny Driscoll.
How to Dispose of Old Police Items
If you come into possession of Police items from an Estate or Death of a Police Officer Family Member and do not know how to properly dispose of these items please contact: Retired Detective Ken Driscoll - Please dispose of POLICE Items: Badges, Guns, Uniforms, Documents, PROPERLY so they won’t be used IMPROPERLY.