William S. Devery (1857–1919), nicknamed “Big Bill,” “Big Fellow,” and “Big Chief,” was a controversial New York City police official and the first chief of police after the consolidation of New York City in 1898. He was born in New York City to impoverished Irish immigrants and raised in a West Side tenement district. Devery joined the police force in 1878 and was appointed roundsman in 1881, sergeant in 1883, captain in 1891, inspector in 1898, deputy chief of police in 1898, chief of police in 1898, and deputy police ...

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