Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/477

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NEW YORK'S TEN THOUSAND

thing should be subordinated to the fitting of a youth to be a police officer. The course of instruction ought to be at least three years, and four would not be too long.

The initial steps in the founding of the School of Police would be by far the most difficult. The experiences at West Point are, however, available. Happy would it be for the city's ten thousand if a man could be found so well equipped as was General Sylvanus Thayer, who served for seventeen years as superintendent of the military academy and to whom its efficiency is almost wholly due. The conditions respecting the police school are in some respects even more onerous, especially that even now about 475 new men join the force annually, a number certain to increase rapidly with the growth of the city. One great advantage enjoyed by cadets is the intimate contact and influence of classes. This would be largely neutralized in the police school unless by a division into battalions, or some similar device, this could be obviated. In the beginning probably a better foundation could be laid for future efficiency by limiting the number of candidates for admission; this number to be increased gradually with each succeeding year.

A change so radical in the mode of admission to the ranks of the force may be safely reckoned upon to encounter adverse and censorious criticism. The very radicalism, subversive as it undoubtedly would be, of all the traditions of the past, would incite to opposition. The epithet "aristocratic," and that other phrase, a potent shibboleth to fanatical conservatism—" not close to the people," will find its opportunity. Political opposition, too, may be counted upon, certainly from the "machines," probably from even the free-lances. From the less thoughtful of the force itself may be anticipated, not so much opposition as ridicule and a certain good humored contempt. It is not difficult to imagine that in precinct station houses, members off post, particularly the younger, more flippant and "smarter," will be found indulging in considerable hilarity over the proposed innovation. But (as Victor Hugo says) "He who drains a marsh must expect to hear the frogs croak." Much, doubtless, could be done among the older and wiser officers to offset this feeling. Certainly at the outset the endeavor should be made to acquire their interest and sympathy and cordial assistance in establishing and promoting the new order. This may be found not as difficult as it now appears; at heart the vast majority of men greatly prefer clean ways to foul. Men grow trustworthy by being trusted.

Nevertheless, the first of the classes to be graduated, and the members of the school's senior class who would be taught by actual practise on post, must expect to encounter something not unlike "hazing." But we may be sure that graduates will be quite able to hold their own; they will have been taught how to do that. And they can console them-