The roots of the SBA run as deep as those of the City of New York itself. In 1899, just one year following the consolidation of the city’s five boroughs and the formation of the NYPD, the Department’s supervisory officers formed a fraternal organization known as the Police Sergeants Endowment and Benevolent Association. The new group, led by President Oliver Tims, merged sergeants’ organizations that had already existed in New York and Brooklyn for more than 10 years, and also included lieutenants and other high-ranking officers among its membership.
For the next 60 years, the SBA existed largely as an advocacy group, working on behalf of New York’s sergeants, but holding no firm authority to bargain with the City or press for meaningful reforms. Union leadership was virtually non-existent; currently accepted work standards such as overtime pay, night differential pay and longevity pay were still years away, and while sergeants were entitled to participate in a single health insurance plan, they were likewise required to pay 50 percent of its premiums.