Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/473

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469
NEW YORK'S TEN THOUSAND

order to emasculate it as to purpose. Be sure its cohesion is too indurated to become friable by a few years of adversity. The "Tammany tiger," drowsy as he may seem, sleeps with one eye open, never relaxing vigilant watchfulness for the chance to pounce upon the city fang and claw.

In times now somewhat past appointments to positions on the force and promotions therein were managed usually by district leaders, "pull" being largely a substitute for merit, and there was (if common report may be trusted) a price-current for the goods.

The stream of insidious and blighting influence is not to be restrained or diverted by any ordinary counter force, or by any moral suasion; the remedy must be radical, human nature's quality of cohesive habit be overmastered by that stronger habit—also human-natural—of the potency of early training, and that moral health is more "catching" than moral disease. The strength of the power adverse to purity and legality in New York lies in the police force, and that can be purified only by purifying the sources of influence, by a new and totally variant method of selecting aspirants for the shield and baton. It will be necessary to establish a school of instruction—a police cadet academy.

Candidates for admission to this school should be chosen by an examination strictly competitive; the dictum of the political "boss" would be dispensed with, being replaced by the findings of fact as to qualification of the civil service. Some of these qualifications may be stated: book learning, beyond the merest rudiments of "the three r's," should not be exacted; moral character, physical stamina, including suitable height, weight and chest measurement, and "brightness," ought to be the controlling requirements. Strength and bodily endurance should be of a quality to enable the youth to stand the strain of his exacting calling, not only for a time, but all through life until age should disable him. The age limit for admission should be fixed comparatively early; from sixteen to twenty-one would approximate the desirable ages. As to residence, etc., citizenship or that of parents, for one year prior to admission, as well as residence in the state for one year, should be as now required. In estimating character I would suggest an entire overhauling of some of the customary ideas of theoretical reformers; "piety" ought neither to count nor discount; neither the timid (whose pluck can be toned up) nor the "bully" (whose audacity can be toned down) should be barred out. While a mean or contemptible action—and of course conviction of a felony—ought to exclude beyond hope an aspirant, let it not be forgotten that no material is more promising than that found in the pronounced honest "tough." To some this idea may come as a rude shock—that it is educational "heresy." To such, however, the entire change may be shocking.

A number of models exist for the sort of training school contem-