Policing in Calcutta's earliest days was confined to the Mughal administration and their local representatives. Bengal was still technically a part of the Mughal Empire, but the Nawabs of Bengal, based in Murshidabad in North Bengal, were its effective rulers. The Watch and Ward functions were entrusted to a Kotwal or town prefect who had 45 peons under him, armed with traditional weapons like staves and spears, to deal with miscreants. In 1720, the East India Company formally appointed an officer to be in charge of civil and criminal administration. He was assisted by an Indian functionary commonly known as "black deputy" or "black zamindar". Under him were three naib-dewans, one of whom was in charge of the police. The settlement was divided into "thanas" (Police stations) under "thanadars" who had in turn contingents of "naiks" and "paiks". A small contingent of river police was also formed.
A statute passed in the year 1778 raised the strength of the police in Calcutta to 700 paiks, 31 thanadars and 34 naibs under a superintendent. In 1780 commissioners of conservancy were appointed for the town who also ooked after watch and ward. Policing was still very loosely organized.
In 1794 justices of peace were appointed for the municipal administration of Calcutta and its suburbs, under a chief magistrate who was directly in charge of the Police. In 1806 justices of peace were constituted as magistrates of 24 Parganas and parts of the adjacent districts within a 20-mile radius of the town.
The middle decades of the 19th century witnessed a greater systematization and institutionalization of policing in Calcutta. William Coats Blacquiere, a charismatic city magistrate inaugurated a network of spies or "goendas". In 1845 a committee under J.H. Patton brought about key changes in police organization which now began to be modeled on the London Metropolitan Police. A Commissioner of Police was appointed with powers of a justice of peace to preserve law and order, detect crime and apprehend offenders
In 1856 the Governor-General promulgated an Act treating Calcutta Police as a separate organization and S. Wauchope, who was then the chief magistrate of Calcutta, was appointed as the first Commissioner of Police.
He had to face difficult days because of the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, the first upsurge against British rule. He handled the situation ably and was knighted for his achievement. During the incumbency of his successor V.H. Schalch the Calcutta Police Act and the Calcutta Suburban Police Act, which are still in force, were enacted in 1866. Two years earlier (1864) the Commissioner of Police had become the Chairman of the Justices as well and a Deputy Commissioner was appointed to look after the executive police.
It was Sir Stuart Hogg who first set up the Detective Department in Calcutta Police in November 1868 with A. Younan as the superintendent and R. Lamb as the first-class inspector. Hogg was both the Commissioner of Police and the Chairman of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation. His name is still remembered in the Hogg Market, more popularly known as the New Market, one of the landmarks of the city of Kolkata. Sir Fredrick Halliday, who was appointed as the Commissioner of Police in 1906, also introduced several changes in the administration of Calcutta Police including the system of running a Control Room. His biggest achievement was the creation of the Special Branch in June 1909. For his numerous contributions to the growth of the city police, he may rightly be called the father of modern Calcutta Police. During his tenure Calcutta Police was divided into three town divisions and two suburban divisions.
Another person who deserves mention is Sir Charles Augustus Tegart, who headed the Detective Department and virtually controlled the Special Branch since his joining Calcutta Police in 1902. He was the first officer of the Indian Police (IP) in the organization and on his report the Special Branch was created. He reorganized the city police force and made it efficient. A highly decorated officer, he was the Commissioner of Police in the years 1923-31 and was admired for keeping the city free from crime. However, he was unpopular with freedom fighters and his encounters with revolutionaries are a part of popular Bengali folklore.
It may be remembered that the history of Calcutta Police under British rule was an adjunct of the colonial administration. Hence its role was primarily repressive and anti-nationalist. After India gained independence from British rule in 1947, Calcutta Police was re-organised as an arm of a newly emerged nation-state keen on consolidating its freedom. Surendra Nath Chatterjee was the first Indian Commissioner of Police.On the late evening of 17 October,2007 after the last incumbent, Prasun Mukherjee, went away from Lalbazar ,the City Police Headquarters; without formally handing over the charge of his office ,having learnt that he was being removed ,Gautam Mohan Chakraborty--also fondly known as 'Feluda'-in modern Bengali urban folklore (though he was uncharitably named by a section of the Bengali Press ,as one of the duos among the 'Jagai-Madhai' when he was inducted into Calcutta Police for the second time as Detective chief by Tushar Kanti Talukdar--the CP in early and mid nineties and one of his mentors and the holy patron saint of Sat & Dakho''" officers )and a native IPS officer of 1978 batch took over in the backdrop of death of Rizwanur Rahman on railway tracks near Ultadanga about a month ago.