Finger cuffs?

Policework throughout the years is on display

Police Chief John Duval talks to us in front of the department’s history display.
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An authentic bobby-style helmet worn by a turn-of-the-century patrolman.
A look at some of the department’s various cuffs that were used throughout the 20th century.

There is plenty of high-tech gadgetry that goes into modern police work, but there's still room at the Concord Police Department for countless relics dating back as far as the 1800s.

Including one that's ticketed for a national display.

The department has compiled something of a police museum over the past handful of years, sifting through boxes already on hand and collecting various donations from the community to build a shrine to the history of Concord crime fighting. Included in those findings is a finger cuff created by Abraham Cushing, an office in Concord in the 1920s and '30s.

That cuff, which an officer could slip around a suspect's finger in order to gain some pretty persuasive - and painful - torque, will be sent to the National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington, D.C.

But the item is just one of hundreds on display at the department, all of which are from the city's history. Through the generosity of family members of former officers and others in the community willing to donate, what began as a small project has taken over an entire wall of display cases on the building's third floor.

"What's impressive to me is these people take pride in the possession of their family member's history, but they want these things to remain appreciated by others in the profession," Police Chief John Duval said. "There's a sense of pride, not only in themselves but also in their family. They want these items to be appreciated for years and years to come."

The collection is quite diverse, featuring badges and commemorative shields, handcuffs and nightsticks, helmets and hats, old radios and communication equipment and parking tickets.

There's a shelf highlighting weapons that have been confiscated over the years, including an old handgun, a ninja throwing star and a pair of brass knuckles.

Cushing's contribution is particularly memorable given that he worked for the department and is credited with inventing it. But there's a story attached to every item displayed, and Duval said an old officer will often come in to donate a piece and discover a photo from his or her era, stopping to identify those in the picture and share fond memories.

Included in the collection is a book given to a departing chief in the late 1800s, complete with notes and photos from all his officers - in their mustachioed glory - as well as a display honoring former chief Arthur McIsaac.

The evolution of police weaponry is illustrated entertainingly, as well, from sturdy wooden nightsticks to lead-weighted clubs with floppy leather handles to more modern devices.

Duval said some of the items were in the building for years, stashed away in cardboard boxes, while others have been given over time. Current officers have contributed things, as well, and several have bought items on eBay or at auction, on their own dime, in order to build the collection.

Because of that, the project has engendered a touching sense of community, encouraging former officers to remain in contact with the department and encouraging current officers to take a sense of ownership. Even the display case built to hold the items was constructed in part by a department employee who is a finish carpenter.

"It illustrates how Concord is still a small community, and there's a very rich aspect to the sense of service to the community and these people," Duval said. "It underscores the pride we have. Officers have contributed in a variety of different ways, with their own time and their own money, to perpetuate the esprit decor. This is our home."

The department is always looking for Concord-based historical items. Those wishing to donate can contact the department at 225-8600 or can email Duval at


Who was Abe Cushing?

When we saw Abraham Cushing's finger cuffs at the Concord police station, we got curious. Who was this inventive policeman? With the help of the police department and the Concord Public Library, we found some biographical information.Cushing was born on Feb. 21, 1884, in Concord. He's listed in the Concord… 0

March 20, 2012
retro police log

Cut out the fancy stuff, Concord!

The Concord Police Department was kind enough to give us access to some recently unearthed police logbooks. We think it's a fascinating look into the way life used to be in Concord, so we've pulled out some interesting entries for you. Check it out!May 27, 1935: Dee Burbank of Elm St. 17 years old. Holding his bicycle for a day or two until he learns to ride it the way it… 0

April 17, 2012


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