Niles Historical Books for sale
Click here for details
Return to Home Page
Back to top
you enjoy the images on the Webpages, there is a book with high
resolution images with descriptions that will interest you.
With over 400 photographs and 200 pages, the new book-A Pictorial
History of the Buildings of Niles Ohio offers a pictorial history
of Niles from 1895 through the present day.
Follow this link
for information on ordering your book.
Volunteer policemen protected the Niles community
from 1850 to 1864. That year Niles was incorporated as a village
with H.H. Mason as the first elected village mayor. A
police department was established at that time with a Marshall
at the head of local law enforcement. The 1875-76 Niles directory
listed Edward Seiple as an ex-Marshall. Very early police
officers included Jack Windsor, Tom Williams. Bill Stack,
Tom Nicholas and Link Round, just to mention a few
On February 6, 1894, the town council passed the necessary enactment
to advance the village of Niles to a city. At that time all of
Niles' public officials automatically lost their positions. In
other words, the political slate was "wiped clean" and
there were sixteen positions to be filled. An election in the
fall of 1894 gave David J. Woodford the honor of being
the City of Niles' first mayor; at that same time. J. S. Caldwell
was elected Marshall.
As early as 1896 discussions were held, wherever
city officials or concerned citizens gathered, regarding the appointment
of a police chief. At the July 1899 city council meeting, the
matter of appointing a chief of police was brought to the floor,
but no action was taken at that time. During the years 1894-1899
no action was taken to appoint a chief. April 1900 rolled around
and E. L. Boynton was elected mayor. On the 5th of April,
city council passed an ordinance establishing the salary of the
chief of police at $50 per month. Then, on April 26th, council
held an important session to consider appointing a chief of police.
Mayor Boynton's recommendation, John Bruder, was rejected
on each of five ballots, with the same vote -- 3 to confirm, 3
to reject. Another vote was cast and when the result was the same
as the five previous ballots, the subject of a chief was tabled
until a later date. Actually it was tabled off and on for the
next year as the deadlock continued.
During the first week of May 1901, just four months before President
McKinley was assassinated, city council held its regular meeting;
approving of Mayor Boynton's recommendations for John Neitheimer,
Chief of police; William Turner and John Bruder
as regular policemen. Then during early January 1902 our first
chief of police, John Neitheimer, was suspended.
On January 13th, during council meeting, the majority of the police
committee recommended that Neitheimer be reinstated, but their
recommendation was rejected by a 3 to 2 vote. The results of the
vote made it necessary to schedule another meeting; but, before
council could take care of that matter, Neitheimer resigned. Lincoln
(“Link”) J. Round was immediately appointed “Acting”
Chief. The Civil Service exam was passed by congress in 1883 creating
the foundation of the American civil service system. In February
1902 Chief Round passed the exam and became Chief of Police.
When Link Round joined the police force of Niles in 1895, the
police department did not have a patrol car. On one occasion Chief
Round related how, when he arrested drunks, he often borrowed
a wheelbarrow from someone's yard to transport the drunks to jail.
That was especially true whenever he caught the culprits some
distance from the jail, such as in the vicinity of Wintergreen
Hill, between Niles and Girard. Under Chief Round, the police
department achieved a reputation for cooperation and quick action,
solving many cases. Chief Round served 17 years on the force retiring
with a pension of $100.00 per month.
Early 1915 photograph of the Niles Police Deptartment.
Seated left to right - Officer Williams, Officer Link Rounds,
Mayor F.E. Bryan (1914-1916), unknown, Officer Fitzpatrick. Standing
left to right: Officer Wilhelm Ludwig Neiss, Officer Charles Mullet,
unknown, Officer Lally. Officer Charles Berline, unknown, unknown
and Officer Charles Nicholas.
"At this time, police were
known as 'Dickies', hence Wilhelm Ludwig Neiss was known as Dickie
Neiss", Shirley Neiss Harris, granddaughter
of officer Neiss. Wilhelm Neiss was born in Niles on November 14,
1920 photograph of Niles Police Department.
Standing L-R: Desk Sgt.
Jackie Jones, Joseph Meere, Charles A. Gilbert, 'Hooker' Dale,
Richard (Dick) Whittaker, William (Bill) Mullen.
Seated L-R: James Lally, Wilhelm Ludwig
Neiss, Chief Lincoln (Link) Rounds, Al Casper,and Louis Muche.
officials(photograph on left).
On the front of the picture they are identified from L-R:
1. Police Chief Lincoln(Link) Rounds
2. O. R. Farror
3. Bert Holloway, Supt. of Water & Light Dept.
4. Mayor Frank Bryan
1915 photo taken of Howard Ohl, Sanitary Police, in his
city building office.
Niles Police leading a parade. L to R:
Tom Fitzpatrick, George Stephens, "Jug"
O'Brien, Charles Nicholas and Wilhelm Ludwig Neiss.
The "Blue Knights" of the Niles Police
force, as shown here, were always at the head of many parades that
were organized for every public occasion. Leading a parade down
East State Street toward the curve from South Main Street.Picture
Members of the Niles Athletic Club. Seated: Davy
Smith. Standing: unknown, Bill Pritchards, unknown,
Police Chief Nicholas, Billy Thomas, unknown,
unknown. Mascot: Jacky Phillips.
Two different views
of the Niles City Building, built in 1895, which housed the horses
and fire apparatus with the fire and police departments on the first
floor. The second floor was for council and city officials offices
and a large meeting room.
In 1936 with Charles A. Nicholas as chief, the police department
sponsored a Leap Year Police Ball to raise funds. There were seven
men on the force including the chief and they needed equipment.
The Niles guns were obsolete and the department had no machine guns
and every patrolman needed new uniforms also the department’s
gas bombs were out-dated. The Leap Year Ball was held at the McKinley
Memorial with Emerson Henry’s Orchestra. Chief Nicholas died
of a heart attack in 1947 at his home on Maple Ave. Mayor Fisher
characterized Chief Nicholas as a true gentleman in every respect
and a very fine friend of everyone. Mayor Fisher appointed Charles
S. Berline as acting chief. When the Civil Service test was
given, Chief Berline made the highest score on the exam.
Over the years there were many changes
in the scope and problems of the city's police department, from
the early years when the department's only equipment was an old
horse-drawn paddy wagon to the late 1920s when bootlegging and all
that went with it was the big problem. When Berline became chief,
traffic had grown to be the major problem.
During Berline's tenure, the Niles Police Department acquired new
motorcycles, a modern radio system, new patrol cars every several
years, an increase in manpower with three sergeants and the establishment
of three shifts each day, with one of the sergeants in charge of
each shift. Also, the position of a department laborer was created
in 1948, and a separate room was made available for female prisoners.
Berline was responsible for the development of a fingerprinting
and crime detection lab.
Matt J. McGowan was appointed Acting Chief when Chief Berline
died. McGowan had enlisted in the Navy while a Junior in high school
and was the first person to leave Niles for service in that war.
Serving as a radio operator, he crossed the Atlantic nine times
before receiving an honorable discharge. During the time McGowan
was in the Navy, he won the boxing Atlantic Fleet championship in
the 147 pound division. After returning to Niles and during his
days as a patrolman, McGowan gained national recognition for his
training of boxers. He organized and maintained a gym and developed
a physical education program for local boys and over a decade of
time, he cared for more than 80 boys. Several top boxers were trained
in McGowan's program. McGowan was also an extremely capable police
officer. During W.W. II, he worked closely with the FBI on subversive
activities. Chief McGowan died April 5,1957 of heart failure; he
was the fourth Niles police chief to die while in office.
John A. Ross served as Acting Chief upon McGowan's death
until May 25, 1957 when he was appointed Chief of Police. Ross had
served under three chiefs, all of whom died while in office. Ross
joined the police force in 1946 as a patrolman on the midnight shift;
the police station was on West Park Avenue at that time and Ross
earned $2,100 annually. He checked parking meters and issued offenders
tickets that carried a fine of $1.00 each. Those parking meters
were eliminated in Niles during the 1970s.
Chief Ross, who was 86 years old when he retired, June 13, 1996,
was the oldest police chief in Ohio according to the president of
the Ohio Association of chiefs of Police. On November 12, 1996,
Captain Bruce Simeone, was named the city's first new police
chief in 24 years.
This information along with many more interesting facts about the
Niles Police Department are in a booklet at the museum. The booklet
is available from the Niles Historical Society for $5.00. For details
call the Niles Historical Society office: 330-544-2143.
The new city administration building was built in 1928 allowing
for the renovation and expansion of the Police and Fire Departments
in the old city building to take place in 1931.
of command center of police station in 1974.
A new Safety-Service Complex which houses not only the police and
fire departments but also the city court which opened in 1977.
View of the fire station as seen from West Park
Avenue. |Niles Police Chiefs
from 1900 to 2010
Lincoln J. Round,
February 1902-November 1903
November 1903-November 1907
November 1907-July 1911
Lincoln J. Round,
July 1911 -June 1927
July 1927-July 1947
September 1947-December 1954
January 1955-April 1957
May 1957-September 1996
Robert J. Hinton ?-present
John Scott and Police Chief John Ross raise the American flag on
the pole in front of the City Complex Building.