City Building and fire apparatus.

City Building and fire apparatus.


History of the Niles Police Department

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If 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 of them.

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.


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, 1863.

1920 photograph of Niles Police Department.


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.

1914 Niles officials

1914 Niles 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
1915 photo taken of Howard Ohl, Sanitary Police, in his city building office.

Niles Police leading a parade.
Niles Police leading a parade. L to R:
Tom Fitzpatrick, George Stephens, "Jug" O'Brien, Charles Nicholas and Wilhelm Ludwig Neiss.

The 'Men in Blue' leading a parade down East State Stree

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 circa 1915.

Members of the Niles Athletic Club.
Members of the Niles Athletic Club. Seated: Davy Smith. Standing: unknown, Bill Pritchards, unknown, Police Chief Nicholas, Billy Thomas, unknown, unknown. Mascot: Jacky Phillips.

Niles City Building, built in 189

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.

Niles City Building, built in 189

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.

Police and fire station in 1974
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.

View of command center of police station in 1974.View 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 opened in 1977.
A new Safety-Service Complex which houses not only the police and fire departments but also the city court which opened in 1977.
Police and fire station 1974
View of the fire station as seen from West Park Avenue.
Niles Police Chiefs from 1900 to 2010
John Neitheimer,
October 1900-January1902
Lincoln J. Round,
February 1902-November 1903
William Turner,
November 1903-November 1907
John Bruder,
November 1907-July 1911
Lincoln J. Round,
July 1911 -June 1927
Charles Nicholas,
July 1927-July 1947
Charles Berline,
September 1947-December 1954
Matt McGowan
January 1955-April 1957
John Ross,
May 1957-September 1996
Bruce Simeone,
November 1996-?
Robert J. Hinton
John Scott and Police Chief John Ross raise the American flag on the pole in front of the City Complex Building.
John Scott and Police Chief John Ross raise the American flag on the pole in front of the City Complex Building.
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