Police Reorganization in Chicago

Frederic B. Crossley

    There is pending in the City Council of Chicago a bill [1] presented by a sub-committee of the Council Committee on Schools, Fire, Police and Civil Service. The bill is based upon the report of the investigation of police by the Civil Service Commission and an independent investigation of the sub-committee and may be found in full in the JOURNAL of the Proceedings of the City Council of the City of Chicago, November 25, 1912, pp. 2415-2433. The most noteworthy features of the proposed act are the following sections:

    Section 6 (first two paragraphs). "There are hereby created the offices of Superintendent of Police, First Deputy Superintendent of Police, Department Inspector, Director of Instruction, Inspector of Moral Conditions and such number of captains, lieutenants, sergeants and patrolmen as may, from time to time, be provided for in the annual appropriation ordinance. The following members of the department, to wit : the First Deputy Superintendent of Police and all captains, lieutenants, sergeants and patrolmen, shall be known and are hereby designated as 'policemen,' and shall constitute the police force of the City of Chicago.

    "In addition the department shall include such other employes as may, from time to time, be provided for in the annual appropriation ordinance."

    Section 9. "The Second Deputy Superintendent of Police shall not be a member of the police force, and under the direction of the Superintendent of Police shall be charged with:

    1. The care and custody of city property and the distribution of the same.

    2. The supervision of departmental records.

    3. The inspection of the personnel of the department and of stations, equipment and departmental property.

    4. The instructions of officers and men.

    5. The ascertaining and recording of departmental efficiency, individual and grouped.

    6. The receipt and investigation of all complaints of citizens regarding members of the police force.

    7. The supervision of all matters affecting public morals, such as prostitution, the sale of cocaine, opium and other habit-forming drugs; the supervision of saloons, cafes, restaurants, hotels, public dance halls, summer parks and excursion boats.

    8. The censoring of moving pictures and performances of all kinds. To him will report:

    (a) The Secretary of the Department.

    (b) The Manager of Properties.

    (c) The Department Inspector.

    Section 12. All precinct commanders shall keep in their respective stations a card index system furnished by the Second Deputy Superintendent of Police, which will show, at all times, up to date, the name, description, character, haunts, habits, associates and relatives of every known person of bad character residing in or frequenting such precinct, including pickpockets, hold-up men, safeblowers, confidence men, vagrants, pimps, prostitutes, and people who are operating or have operated gambling houses.

    Section 19. No member of the police force shall be assigned to any duty other than that strictly in line of police work, and it is hereby made the duty of

(671) the Superintendent of Police to return to uniformed service as promptly as possible, and within six months after the passage of this ordinance, all members of the police force not hereinabove designated for duty in citizen's dress.

    Section 23. The Department Inspector shall have charge of the Inspection Division, and, under the direction of the Second Deputy Superintendent of Police shall be charged with the instruction of the officers and members of the department, and to that end shall establish such courses of instruction at station schools as may be approved by the Second Deputy Superintendent of Police.

    Section 24. It shall be the duty of the Department Inspector under the direction of the Second Deputy Superintendent of Police to establish and maintain a school of instruction for recruits to the position of patrolman, at such place as the Superintendent of Police may designate. All such recruits shall upon their appointment be ordered to the school of instruction in numbers convenient for their practical instruction, and shall there be instructed in elementary criminal law, city ordinances, pertaining to the Police Department, the rules and regulations of the department, sanitation, first aid to the injured, military drill, revolver practice, court procedure and such other matters as the Second Deputy Superintendent of Police may direct. Such course of instruction shall be not less than thirty days' duration, except in cases of emergency, and in such case the full period of instruction shall be completed after the emergency has ceased. No probationary patrolman shall be appointed a regular unless he shall have passed a satisfactory test at the school of instruction for recruits.

    Section 26. It shall be the duty of the Department Inspector to make periodical inspection and investigation of all saloons, cafes, restaurants, public dance halls, summer parks, excursion boats, and hotels within the City of Chicago, and report thereon to the Second Deputy Superintendent of Police any 'violations therein of the laws of the State of Illinois, ordinances of the City of Chicago, and the rules and regulations of the Department of Police, and it shall be the duty of the Second Deputy .Superintendent of Police to forward such reports, with his recommendations thereon, to the Superintendent of Police.

    Section 30. It shall be the duty of the Second Deputy Superintendent of Police to install and at all times maintain a system for the ascertaining and recording of individual efficiency of each member of the police force under the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. Such system shall be as nearly automatic as possible and its application shall be uniform throughout the department."

    Section I provides for the appointment of a Superintendent of Police by the Mayor, with the advice and consent of the City Council.

    As long as the head of the police system is appointed by the Mayor there can be no satisfactory police administration. No matter how efficient the Superintendent may be if he is appointed by the Mayor he is subject to political influences that if he would hold his position he cannot evade and the usual result is that after a period of time, public clamor forces his retirement and the power that appointed him permits him, broken and disgraced, to be retired. In other words the head of the police department when appointed by the chief executive of any city is usually the scape goat of the administration. No officer who cares for his reputation or who desires to remain permanently in police service can afford to accept .the position of Superintendent under such conditions, and it may well be doubted that, even if the Mayor should desire to appoint the most efficient member of the force to the position of superintendent he could induce him to accept.

    It is to be regretted that the bill does not provide for some method

(672) for the selection of superintendent that would allow that officer a free hand, that would make him rightly responsible for the enforcement of all laws and ordinances and insure his continuance in office so long as he properly performed his duties. It is an absurd law that requires a superintendent to enforce "all state laws, city ordinances, etc.," and at the same time under the terms of his appointment practically forces him to consult the mayor or the mayor's advisers as to which laws shall be enforced.

    Section V, providing that the superintendent "shall enforce all state laws, city ordinances and the orders of the City Council and the Mayor of Chicago" caused the bill to be referred back to the committee at one stage of its passage because of an objection by a representative of the United Societies that this section contained a "joker" that was intended to force the closing of the saloons in Chicago on Sunday, there being a state law requiring saloons to be closed on that day. Perhaps this incident discloses better than anything else the influences surrounding the police organization in Chicago today and the lethargic condition of the citizens of that city. It seems hardly credible that any sober person would have the effrontery to oppose publicly a city ordinance on the ground that it might operate to enforce the state laws, provided that city should sometime commit the error of electing an executive who should not deem himself wiser than his fellows and greater than their law, and should, therefore, endeavor to fulfill his oath of office and therefore endeavor to enforce all the laws. It is more incredible that such an argument should be effective as it was in this case. Still, we sometimes wonder why in municipalities like Chicago so many of its citizens have no respect for its laws.

    The notable features of section 6 are the creation of the offices of Second Deputy Superintendent, Director of Instruction, and Inspector of Moral Conditions. (This is the only section of the act mentioning the last two officers.)

    The office and duties of the Second Deputy Superintendent of Police are described in section 9.

    It will be noted that this officer shall not be a member of the police force and that among other duties Ile shall have charge of the instruction of officers and men; the ascertaining and recording of departmental efficiency upon which promotion shall be based and the supervision of departmental records. This section seems admirable and if the choice of a second deputy could be based upon qualifications for the peculiar duties of the position instead of political expediency the officer in charge of the department could be of much real service in improving the work of the entire force. The fact that he must be taken from out-

(673) -side the force is particularly commendable, if for no other reasons than that given by the committee that "it is too much to expect a man whose lifelong training has been in active police work to be qualified to handle the business affairs of a department" and because it would be well to have an officer in the organization who has not been reared in the subtle and indescribable atmosphere surrounding the patrolman from the instant he becomes a member of the force—an atmosphere that tends to create even in every honest member of the force a feeling of uncertainty as to his tenure because of unseen and unknown powers, powers that issue no orders but that provide certain punishment for any act or word contrary to its interests, whether the member commits the act in enforcing the law or in violation of it.

    It was this section of the act, however, that is reported to have called forth the special opposition of the present chief and the following comment : "It is a big joke—that ordinance. Why, what does the smartest lawyer or judge or business man know about police work? Think of putting a civilian in to run coppers. That is just what you could expect from a lot of wise guys." Perhaps if the classes alluded to did know a little more about "police work" the community would profit and there would be many and rapid changes in the personnel of the police force in many municipalities. At any rate Chicago's chief should be more generous and instead of desiring to prohibit forever the rise of some ambitious citizen unto the eminence and knowledge of a police official he should further such conditions and offer to instruct the novice in the intricacies of "police work."

    Section 12 is designed to supplement the card index vagrancy records, and if the system provided for in this section should be carefully and thoroughly followed it would be of considerable benefit in all attempts to locate vicious characters suspected of some criminal act.

    Section 19 is intended to provide that a larger proportion of the police force shall be devoted to actual police duty, and that more men shall serve as patrols on the theory that the prevention of crime is more important than the detection of the criminal. The committee found that in 1912 there was appropriated for salaries of sergeants and patrolmen $5,683,500, providing for 389 sergeants and 4000 patrolmen; that of this number 600 were assigned to the detective bureau of men traveling in citizens' dress out of precinct stations, 1200 on different sorts of special duty, 300 on crossing duty, 350 on wagons and ambulances and about 1800 traveling beat in uniform. To the laymen it would seem that this section is needed in the operation of the Chicago force this winter.

    Sections 23 and 24 provide for schools of instruction for officers,

(674) members and recruits by the department inspector under the direction of the second deputy superintendent. These are two commendable sections and if they become law should tend greatly to increase the efficiency of the force.

    All larger European cities require attendance at schools of instruction for longer periods than are provided in this section and in some instances high standing in a school of instruction constitutes credit toward promotion. The tendency has been in this country to train police along physical lines and while this is necessary ft should not be to the exclusion of mental training. German police commissioners are required to have completed a gymnasium course (equivalent to about two years in college in this country) ; three years in the study of law; two to have been two years at work under some higher court; and to have exercised during two years some administrative authority. The patrolmen are usually recruited from the ranks of privates in the army, and the officers of the grade of sergeant have generally been non-commissioned army officers with twelve years' experience. Under our system of government this may not be necessary or desirable, but it is high time we had some other qualification than waist dimension or strength of arm.

    Section 26 provides compulsory inspection of saloons, cafes, public dance halls and excursion boats, all of which, judging from reports of private organizations, are sadly in need of police inspection. Whether such inspection would lead to proper regulation or not it would place conditions before the public in the form of the reports of the department inspector. To this section, however, should be added "hotels and rooming houses" as places subject to inspection and then the section assigned to the newly created inspector of moral conditions for enforcement.

    Section 30 provides for recording individual efficiency and if used as a basis of promotion is good. It does not, however, enter sufficiently into detail and might operate harmfully under an inefficient second deputy.

    The bill on the whole is a step forward in the improvement of the police organization of a large city. The chief opposition to its enactment lies in the active opposition of the United Police, an organization of ill repute, and the United Societies, a body alleged to be composed of foreign-born citizens organized to promote the enactment of 'liberal" laws and the non-enforcement of those deemed not "liberal," but apparently organized primarily to prevent the enforcement of state laws regulating the sale of intoxicating liquors, and to secure political preferment for the more clever of its officers. Possibly the character of the opposition is sufficient to warrant the passage of the act.



  1. This bill, with few substantial amendments, was passed by the Chicago City Council since the JOURNAL went to press and will probably be signed by the Mayor. At the behest of the United Societies all parts of the act tending to enforce the state law closing saloons on Sunday were eliminated and the inspection provided for in Section 26 was made the duty of the Inspector of Moral Conditions.

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