of the Police Department.
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.
Following excerpt is from
Grace Allison's pamphlet about the Niles Chiefs of Police.
"Niles City Council had a very important meeting on October
5, 1900; at that time the deadlock existing for the past six months
between Mayor Boynton and council was broken. John Neithmeier
was elected to fill the position of Nile’ first chief of
During the first week of May 1901,
just four months before President McKinley was assassinated, city
council held its regular meeting; at that time Mayor Boynton presented
his recommendation for policemen: John Neitheimer, chief
of police’ William Turner and John Bruder as
regulars. City council approved the mayor’s recommendation.
At the same meeting, Mayor Boynton
named the following men for special duty on the police force:
James P. Lally, George Stein, Henry Reiter, and William
J. Davis; but councilman Williams asked that this matter
be deferred until council’s next meeting.
During early January 1902, our first chief of police, John Neitheimer,
was suspended for being drunk while on duty and for fighting with
Sanitary Policeman James McBride in police court.
On January 13th, during council
meeting, the majority of the police committee recommended that
Neithmeimer 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, Neithmeimer resigned.
Lincoln (Link) J. Round was immediately
appointed Acting Chief and in February 1902 he became Chief of
Police. Chief Round passed the Civil Service exam with a grade
In 1883 Congress had passed the
Civil Service Act which created the foundation of the American
Civil Service System. For instance, civil service positions must
be filled from lists of qualified candidates in competitive examinations
open to all citizens, and examinations are held for specific positions,
as the need arises. Candidates are graded by points up to 100;
and appointments are made on merit from the appropriate list of
those who passed the examination without regard to race, religion,
color, national origin, sex, or politics.
When Link Round joined the police
force 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 when he caught the
culprits some distance from the jail, such as in the vicinity
of Wintergreen Hill, between Niles and Girard.
Link Round served as chief from
February 1902 until November 1903, when William Turner
became Chief under Mayor W. F. Thomas. Turner served in this capacity
until November 1907, when John Bruder was appointed chief of police
under Mayor W. F. Thomas.
Bruder was born in Osceola, Clare
County, Ireland September 28, 1867 and came to Niles with his
parents before he was one-year-old.
Bruder was sworn in as a policeman May 5, 1900; he was unsuccessful
in obtaining the appointment of chief of police in 1900-1901,
but he did become chief in 1907.
In 1909 John Bruder was chief, Lincoln
J. Round, night lieutenant; William Neiss, James P. Lally, Thomas
Kelly, and Louis Pepe were patrolmen.
John Bruder was the first police
chief to die while in office; he died July 11, 1911 at his home
on Hartzell Avenue. Bruder’s funeral was one of the largest
funerals for an official held in Niles up to that time. All city
offices were closed during the hours of his funeral; city officials,
members of the fire and police departments, and city employees
met at City Hall and attended Bruder’s funeral as a group.
They marched from Bruder’s home and carried the casket to
St. Stephen Church. After a Requiem Mass, a long cortege made
its way to St. Stephen Cemetery.
Pall bearers were Charles Crow,
Lincoln Round, Richard Neiss, Bernard L. Hogan, James O’Connell
and John J. O’Connell.
Link Round served as Acting Chief from the day of Chief Bruder’s
death until two weeks later, July 26, 1911, when he was appointed
Chief by the Board of Public Safety.
Link was born in Niles in 1865.
He joined the police department in 1895; he served as night patrolman
and then as a regular patrolman. In 1902-03, Link was Niles Chief
of Police and between 1903 and 1911 he was a lieutenant.The Niles
police department, under Chief Round, achieved a reputation for
cooperation and quick action, two factors that were unusual in
a city the size of Niles. Chief Round and his department were
commended for the aid they gave other departments in apprehending
criminals or supplying needed information."
Chief Round served 17 years on the
force retiring with a pension of $100.00 per month.
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.