This section is from the book "Popular Law Library Vol8 Partnership, Private Corporations, Public Corporations", by Albert H. Putney. Also available from Amazon: Popular Law-Dictionary.
Section 77. The police power of the state has been variously defined and described. Blackstone offers the following: "The due regulation and domestic rule of the kingdom whereby the individuals of the state, like the members of a well-governed family, are bound to conform their general behavior to the rules of propriety, good neighborhood, and good manners, and to be decent, industrious, and inoffensive in their respective stations."
Judge Dillon, in his commentaries on the law of municipal corporations, says: "Laws and ordinances relating to the comfort, health, convenience, good order, and general welfare of the inhabitants are comprehensively styled, 'Police Laws or Regulations.' And it is well settled that laws and regulations of this character, though they may disturb the enjoyment of individual rights, are not unconstitutional, though no provision is made for compensation for such disturbances. They do not appropriate private property for public use, but simply regulate its use and enjoyment by the owner."
16 Hill vs. East Hampton, 140 Mass., 381.
17 See Am. & Eng. Ency. of Law, Vol. 15, page 1053, and cases cited in the notes.
If he suffers injury, it is either damnum absque injuria, or, in the theory of the law, he is compensated for it by sharing in the general benefits which the regulations are intended and calculated to secure. The citizen owns his property absolutely, it is true; it cannot be taken from him for any private use whatever, without his consent, nor for any public use without compensation, still he owns it subject to this restriction, viz.: that it must be so used as not to injure others, and that the sovereign authority may, by police regulations, so direct the use of it that it shall not prove pernicious to his neighbors, or the citizens generally. These regulations rest upon the maxim salus populi suprema est lex." 18
Whatever differences of opinion may exist as to the extent and boundaries of the police power, and however difficult it may be to render a satisfactory definition of it, there seems to be no doubt that it does extend to the protection of the lives, health, and property of the citizens and to the preservation of good order and the public morals.19
A state has all power necessary for the protection of the property, health and comfort of the public, and it may delegate this power to local municipalities in such measure as may be deemed desirable for the best interests of the public; and the state may resume it again when deemed expedient.20
A municipal corporation, under its police powers, may make reasonable provision for the peace, safety and convenience of its inhabitants, which regulations generally concern the use of streets, either by individuals or by corporations with railway cars.
18 Dillon, Mun. Corp. (3rd Ed.), Par. 141.
19 Boston Beer Co. vs. Massachusetts, 97 U. S., 25.
20 Harmon vs. City of Chicago, 110 III., 400.
In the case of Chicago Union Traction Company vs. Chicago, 199 III., 484, it was held that the charter of the City of Chicago gave the city power to limit the fare to be charged by street railways, and that, as a necessary incident to such power, it could enact ordinances requiring street railway companies to furnish transfer tickets entitling passengers to ride on a connecting line of the same company without the payment of an additional fare.
A municipal corporation may by ordinance regulate the speed of trains within its corporate limits, and may require a railroad company to keep a flagman at crossings.21
A municipal corporation may by ordinance require street railroad companies to keep their tracks watered so as to lay the dust, and may impose a fine for a failure; may also forbid any railway company from allowing a train, engine or car to stand on a street crossing more than a limited number of minutes, except in case of accident.22