Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/465

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FOR many years periodicals which make a point of entertaining timeliness have printed articles concerning the police force of New York City. Very few of these have been flattering, although at times, especially when some novelty of legislation has been inaugurated, or a new and more or less distinguished chief of the department entered upon his duties, they have expressed a guarded hopefulness of better things. But for reasons that to the initiated are sufficiently clear, few of these expectations have been realized; and of late the articles have been either in the nature of reminiscences, or what has come to be called "muck-raking."

The object of this paper is neither to relate incidents—historical or scandalous—and such interest as it may have will be solely of that sort which citizens having the welfare of the city at heart may take in whatever tends towards the establishment and maintenance of permanent good government.

Under our federal system republican principles of representative government are in full force, not only among and between the states, but. in counties, townships, villages and school districts. In all these local interests are directed by local authority, representative government being the prevailing rule. Outside of the large cities authority touches the average citizen but lightly; in fact, in most rural neighborhoods the presence and pressure of legality is felt only once a year when the collector of taxes makes his official existence manifest, or when occasionally some local issue (in this state usually a question of "wet or dry") arises.

But in New York City, a very different condition of things exists. Here a constant need for the law's efficient maintenance surrounds and presses upon both householder and visitor. Rules and regulations, unknown because unnecessary in smaller or thinly settled communities, are here imperative. Questions of common rights, or mutual duties, of order, of sanitation, of the preservation of equality in some directions and of the equitable permission of privilege in others; these, and many more problems in utmost perplexity continually arise, demanding not only cheerful acquiescence from the law-abiding, but the constant strain of that eternal vigilance which is the price that must be paid for liberty.