Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/470

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

for the army are now distributed between the war department, with its several bureaus, the general staff and the committees on military affairs of congress. In this way the chief officer of the police force would be called upon for no more than advisory assistance, being left free for the work of supervision and command. As a general in the field, he should have under him an adequate staff, responsible only to him and reporting only to him, and being clothed with powers as his representative. In time of riot or disorder the powers of the chief should be greatly increased; in effect his personal authority, while not extending of course to that of "life and death," should really for the time supersede the civil. To a military man there is something ludicrous in the idea of gentle dealings with a mob. It may be political heresy to say so, but no chief of police should discriminate between a band of murderous ruffians—if you choose avowed brigands—and those—hardly less ruffianly—who use and utilize the striking of honest workingmen for better conditions for purposes of pillage and violence. If a mob knew that the orders were—"Shoot to kill!" unlawful assemblages would quickly become unknown.

So far as discipline goes the police have seldom been other than disciplined. But to impose military discipline upon a policeman is not only impossible except when he becomes part of a battalion or when mobilized to resist and suppress disorder, but is usually quite undesirable. The duties of a patrolman on post are not in the least like those of a private soldier. He is an officer, must be treated as an officer, and his duty must be compared to that of an army officer. He is almost constantly beyond the oversight and control of a superior; he is bound to act by himself and obliged to think for himself. He is not an enlisted man, whose duty is largely that of blind and prompt obedience, but a citizen temporarily bearing arms for a specific and limited purpose.

The method of discovering and applying correct principles applicable to all bodies of men acting under authority to the police force; to do away with improper conditions; to reconcile discrepancies, and to establish the administration of the department upon a stable foundation, ought to be the work of a suitably constituted commission. This commission should be appointed by the governor, or preferably the mayor, under authority of an act of the legislature. This commission ought to be composed in part of graduates of West Point, in part of captains of police in sympathy with the work, the police commissioner, and one or two civilians, of whom one at least should be a lawyer thoroughly versed in municipal affairs. There is an old adage that, "A commission is a noun of multitude which may signify many, but seldom signifying much;" but we have equally good authority that, "In a multitude of counselors is safety."

If not already familiar with the history of the department, it would