7) Why is Green associated with security?

There is no single reason why the security profession has adopted the Thin Green Line and why green is associated with the color green. Below listed are a few reasons we have found.

Watchmen & Green Lanterns

Whether the precinct house is old or new, all New York police stations should have two green lights flanking their entrance.

There’s a story explaining why, and it has to do with the first men who patrolled New Amsterdam in the 1650s.

Peter Stuyvesant established an eight-member “rattle watch” who were “paid a small sum to keep an eye on the growing, bustling town,” and look out for pirates, vagabonds, and robbers, according to one source.

The rattle watchmen carried green lanterns over their shoulders on a pole, like a hobo stick, so residents could identify them in the dark, unlit streets.

“When the watchmen returned to the watch house after patrol, they hung their lantern on a hook by the front door to show people seeking the watchman that he was in the watch-house,” states this NYPD recruiting website.

“Today, green lights are hung outside the entrances of police precincts as a symbol that the ‘watch’ is present and vigilant,” explains the NYPD site.

The top two photos show the relatively modern green lights of a Chelsea police house, on West 20th Street, and the Ninth Precinct on East Fifth Street in the East Village.

The loveliest old police lantern I’ve ever seen has to be the one outside the 108th Precinct in Hunters Point, Queens.

The facade of the station house is currently undergoing construction, so my photo (left) of the cast-iron, circa-1903 lantern doesn’t do it justice. Luckily Forgotten New York has a much better shot here. It’s a beauty!

ANSI Safety Color: 

Green is reserved for general safety signs, which offer safety-related messages that don’t touch on specific workplace hazards.

Green signs should:

  • Point out first aid kits, emergency eyewash fountains, and other medical equipment

  • Offer general sanitation guidelines and reminders

  • Encourage employees to report accidents, unsafe conditions, and other incidents

  • Motivate employees to be mindful of general hazards

  • Suggest best practices and other safety measures

© 2014 The Thin Green Line - Public Safety

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