Box 12, Folder 28, Document 1

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Box 12, Folder 28, Document 1

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Bedeviled by long, hazardous hours, low pay, public
abuse and unrealistic court decisions, policemen
across the country are at an all-tim e low in morale.
Is it any wonder that police departments are so
dangerously undermanned that crime is flourishing?
Our Alarming
Police
Shortage
BY \ i\l JLLI AM SCHULZ
M
m ajor crim es
a re committed during a
typica l week in the city of
Los Angeles. Twenty-five women
are raped; fo ur citizens are murdered; 190 others are bea ten , kni fed
or shot. Poli ce switchboa rds light up
w ith reports of r 53 robberies, 445
stolen ca rs, 637 larcen ies involving
$50 or m ore, and 1076 housebrea kings . Yet thi s orgy of law less ness is
no reAection on the L os Ange les Poli ce Depa rtm ent. " We just don't
have the m a npowe r to keep crim e in
check," says embat tl ed poli ce chi ef
Thom as Reddin . " We need 10,000
m en, but we ca n't even fi ll our a uthori zed st reng th of 5383."
ORE THA N 2500
Officials in every sect ion of the
co untry echo C hief Reddin 's complaint. Ameri ca is desperately underprotected - at a tim e w hen crime
is grow in g six tim es fas t er than
p op ul a t io n- a nd t he situ a ti o n is
wo rsening rapidly. Demoralized by
in a dequ a te wages, fr ustrated by
judicial nitpicking , sickened by citize n apathy, poli cemen by the thousa nds are turning in their badges,
whi le potentia l replacem ents look
elsewhere fo r employm ent. A survey of 36 m ajo r departments from
Bo sto n to Hono lulu di sc loses
that not one is up to authorized
st reng th. U.S . Ass istant Atto rn ey
General Fred Vin son, Jr., puts the
I
�2
THE READER'S DIGEST
nationwide police sh ortage at a
frightening 50,000.
On the Run. New York's 73rd
Precinct - the teeming Brownsville
section of Brooklyn-is a microcosm of the national problem. Last
summer, the "normal complement"
of 374 men needed to safeguard the
area was short by more than roo.
Bone-weary officers put in r6-hour
days in the attempt to maintain
law and order. But they were no
match for ma rauding criminals.
Homicides soared. Stores were repeatedly burglarized . Policemen
themselves were mugged in broad
daylight. "They've got us on the
run," an exhausted patrolman said
bitterly. "And they know it."
To remedy the situation,
ew
York officials have la unched a highpowered recruiting campaign. But
their problem is not unique. Recruiters from the Washington, D.C.,
police department comb the eastern
United States, a nd cannot fill the
nearly 400 vacancies on their 3100man force. Meanwhile, crime in the
nation's capital increased 38 percent
in a recent 12-m onth period.
Behind the cold statistics are the
individuals who suffer: the mercha nt forced out of business by repeated holdups; the pretty teen-ager
disfig ured for li fe by a n assailant's
razor; the young housewife thrust
into widowhood by an armed robber - and you may well be next.
For make no mistake about it: every
gap in the "thin blue line" means
that more citizens get hurt.
This was demonst rated vividly in
mid-1966, when hundreds of Chicago police were taken off their regular beats to quell potential riots in
the tense Eighth District. During
this time, the city's crime soared 29.8
percent over the previous year, with
increases recorded in 20 of 21 police
districts. The sole exception: the
Eighth District.
H igh Risk, Low Pay. The shamefu l events of last summer, during
which more than 100 communities
were ravaged by riot, have made
the police manpower situation even
more acute.For example, 20 men had
signed up to take the examination
for admission to the undermanned
P lainfield, .J., police department.
Then came that city's riot, in the
course of which a young patrolman
was stomped to death by a savage
mob. Only five of the applicants
showed up to take the test. Of the
five, only two qualified. In nearby
ewark, a policeman threatening
to turn in his badge said, "They
just buried the best man I've ever
known" -this of Frederick Toto, a
decorated policema n shot to death
by a sniper during the July riot. 'Tm
not afraid, but m y wife's near a nervous b reakdown."
But the riots are only part of it.
In recent months I have traveled
from one end of the country to the
other, interviewing former policemen as well as harried young patrolmen who at least for now, are
stick ing it out. From their stories
t hi s dep lorable f inanci al picture
emerges :
Although the Office of Economic
�OUR A L ARMING POLICE SHORTAGE
Opportunity puts the pove rt y level
a t $3200 for a non -farm fa mily
of fou r, patrolmen in Di ck so n ,
Tenn., start at $2400 a year ; in Durant, Okla., at $2760; in Glasgow,
Ky., at $3000. Coeur d 'A lene, Idaho,
pays its patrolmen an annual ·$5280,
but requires them to work 54-hour
weeks .
Salaries in large r citi es, while
hig her, are nonetheless disg raceful.
In Seattle, cable splicers ea rn $375 a
month more than poli ce men; Chicago electri cia ns receive $1.40 an
hour more than the patrolman on
the bea t; carpenters in N ew York
comma nd 50 percent m ore per hour
than patrolmen. M oreover, the cable
sp li cer, e lect rici a n a nd carpente r
work 35- or 40-hour weeks, with genero us ove rtime. The policeman toils
ni g h ts and holidays, rarely with
overt im e, often under in cr edibl e
stra in , hi s li fe freq uentl y in danger.
In 1966, 23,000 poli cemen were assa ulted in the lin e of duty.
More appa lling than low pay to
m an y po li cemen is the att itude of
the publi c. "I'm willing to take m y
chances w ith the punks and the
hoods," says a vetera n policeman in
Balt imore. "A ll I ask is a li ttle support from the average citizen."
Yet, all too often, peop le "wa lk
the ot her way." Fo r h::i lf ::i n hour,
t wo membe rs of t h e C a li fo rni a
Hi g h way Patrol teetered on the edge
of a bridge 185 feet above Sa n Pedro
Bay, st ruggling to save a man bent
on suicide. Agai n and aga in they
shouted for help to passing cars. Not
one driver stopped, or even bothered
3
to ca ll for aid when he reached the
end of the bridge.
In another insta nce, a Sa n Fran cisco policeman attempted to arrest
two drunks on a downtown street.
Forty minutes late r he was ca rried
into San Fra ncisco General Hospital, his cheek slas hed open, his
nose broken . "The crowd just let
them beat m e," he sa id . "People act
as if the police were their enemies."
Case Dismissed. A nother m ajor
factor in the sorry state of police
morale is th e se ries of vague and
loosely wo rded Supreme Court rulings handed down in rece nt years.
Consider these typical cases reported
to the Senate Subcommittee on
C rimin al L aws a nd P rocedures:
• " Thi s fe llow went throug h a
red lig ht a nd ran into me," an a ng ry
motorist told the policem an dispatc hed to the scene of a traffic acci dent in Providence, R.I . " Is that so?"
the officer inqu ired of the second
motor ist. The latter ad mi tted that he
had indeed run the li g ht. Later, the
case aga in st him was thrown out of
co urt . Why? Th e poli cema n had
fa iled to notify him of hi s rig hts, as
required by the Supreme Court's
1966 Mira nda decisi on,* before asking, " ls that so'"
• An officer in Torran ce, Ca lif.,
picked up two young men on narcotics cha rges. Acu tely ::iwa re of
Miranda, the pol ice man in formed
the suspects, "Yo u have the rig ht to
• Whi ch ,a ,·s that a suspect mu, t be info rmed of hi s right to silence, of his rig ht to
a lawyer e,-cn if he cannot affn rd o ne. a nd of
the fact tha t a nything he sa ys ca n be held
.tga in !-i t
hirn
in court .
�THE READER'S DIGEST
the services of a n attorney during all
stages of the proceedings against
you." Tot good enough, Judge Otto
Willett ruled in dismissing the
charges. What the officer should
have said, Willett declared, was,
"You have the right to the services
of an attorney prior to any questioning." The defendants left the cou rtroom gn nnmg .
" itpicking of this kind h;r.; had
a disastrous effect on our force," says
Lt. L ee J. As hma n, head of the
T orrance narcotics squad. "Some
veteran officers have become so frustrated they've simp ly quit."
Turnstile Justice. Just as demoralizing is the cava lier attitude that
m any judges have toward juvenile
crime. Co nsider the case 0£ Harry
Sylvester Jones, Jr., a Washing ton,
D.C., delinquent who was g iven an
earl y release from reform schoolonl y to embark on a criminal career
that included rape, auto theft and
g rand larceny. Sentenced to prison
three times in eig ht years, Jones was
three times released on parole or
p robation. Within seven m onths after he was released for the third
tim e, he had raped two women at
kni fe-point, stabbed a nother nine
times as she knelt in church, and
committed his third rape against a
54-yea r-old wom an he trapped in an
elevator.
Jones is ha rd ly unique. Police fil es
in every state bulge with cases in
which innocent members of society
pay fo r the mistakes of unrealistic
judges and pa role o fficers. The careers of Gregory Ulas Powell and
4
Jimmy L ee Smith, young Cali forn ians who had amassed 25 arrests by
the time they were 30, are depressingly typical.
On the night of M arch 9, 1963, en
route to their fi fth robbery in two
weeks, Powell a nd Smith were
stopped for a defective taill ig ht by
Los Angeles policemen Ian James
Campbell and K arl Hettinger. The
unsuspecting officers were promptly kidnaped at g u npoint, d riven
n o rt h in to K e rn County an d
m arched on to a deserted field . As
the officers stood with their hands
raised, Powell calmly fired a .32-caliber bu llet into Campbell's mouth.
Hettinger whirled and ra n, miraculously escaping as Powell soug ht to
gun him down and Smith pumped
four more slug s into the dying
Campbell.
The lesson to be learned from
that March night is the folly of
turnstile justice. Campbell's killers
were both- on parole. Eight tim es
they had been the recipients of judicia l leniency in the form of conditional release, parole or probation.
N or has their luck run out. C aptured within hours of the murder,
the two were convicted a nd sentenced to death . But, last July, the
Ca liforni a Suprem e Court reversed
the convictions on the ground that
the defendants had not been fully
ad vised o f their rig hts, and ordered
a new tria l, perhaps p roviding a noth e r oppo rt u nit y to prove tha t
crime does pay.
" The. weakness in our handling of
re peating offenders has caused vet-
�5
OUR ALA RMIN G POLICE SHORTAGE
eran law-e nforcement officers to of a nonparti sa n crime comm ittee.
throw up their hands in despair," Mobili z ing public support, the comsays FBI Director J. Edgar H oover. mittee won an imm edi ate $rooo pay
" Worse, it makes ou tsta nding you ng hik e for Cincinnati 's policemen,
men reluctant to enter the law- with promises of m ore to come.
enforcement profession at the ve ry Today, a bi t m ore than a year later,
tim e their services are so gravely m orale is m eas urably improved.
needed."
Resig nations and retirements have
A Major Commitment. Wh at can been slas hed by two thirds, and the
we do to close the dangerous "police force is aga in attracting ambitious
gap"? Two steps are clearl y called
yo un g recru its. "We've got to unfor :
dersta nd," says John Held, " that
1. We must pay th e police a Living yo u ca n't stop crim e wi th an underwage. James Ro ye r, father of two, ma nn ed police force whose morale
resig ned from the C incinnati police has been broken."
2. T,Ve must provide th e police the
department in the summer of 1966.
"My ran k is that of police specialist," moral su pport they so desperately
he wrote. "My sa la ry, after -nine need. Througho ut the countr y, poyea rs, is $7507- I have no union , no lice efforts to improve community
g uild and ve ry few rig hts - civil or relation s have been undermined by
otherwise. Our city perso nn el offi cer a co n cer t ed campa ig n of ab u se.
classifies me as se mi-sk illed labor Commonest charge is that of "police
my co llege degree, g raduate work,
brutality." Yet a tas k force of the
adva nced train ing and yea rs of pro- Pres id e nt 's Cr im e Co mmi ss ion,
fess ional ex perience notwithstand- whi ch w itn essed 5339 " police-citi zen
ing . Private industr y has offered m e encounters," during 850 eight-hour
a substa ntia l sa lary increase and an
patrols, fo und only 20 cases in which
opportunity fo r advancem ent. I re- police were fe lt to have used ung ret that thi s co uld not be ac hieved
necessa ry force. " Th at is a reco rd of
as an employe of the people of Cin- . sa ti sfactory perfo rm ance in 99.63 percinn ati. "
cent of the sa mple under stud y,"
Jim Royer was not a lone, as City says syndicated newspaper columCou nc ilm a n Jo hn E. H e ld w as ni st Jam es J. Kilpatrick. "What
shocked to nnd . M any of the city's other occupa tion or profession boasts
outstand ing poli cem en we re q uit- a better record ?"
To counterbala nce the work of poting the force to acce pt hig her-paying jobs as g ua rd s, truck dri vers, lice-baiting grou ps, F red E . Inbau,
sa lesmen. Crime was up sharp ly; the professor of crim inal law at Northnumber of offenses culmin ating in
western University, recently formed
a rrest was down 25 percent from a n organ iza tion ca lled A mericans
the preceding yea r.
for Effective L aw Enfo rcement "to
H eld led the ng ht for the creatio n represent the law-abiding p ubli c and
�THE READER:S DIGEST
its embattled protectors." Enthusiastically supported by many of the
country's top experts on crime and
punishment, AELE will defend ,
among others, policemen it considers
unjustly accused of brutality; draft
m odel anti~crime statutes; and argue
major cases in the nation's courts.
Meanwhile, in Indi ana polis, a
band of housewives has demonstrated that anyone may enlist in
the battle for law and order. Stunned
by the brutal slaying of a 90-year-old
woman, a group of women residents
initi ate d the Indian apo lis AntiCrime Crusade in March 1962. Since
then, enlisti ng more than 60,000
women in its ranks, the Crusade has
won badly needed pay hikes for the
Indianapolis police, lobbied for effective anti-crime measures and sat
in on more than 80,000 court cases
to keep local judges on their toes.
Its dogged efforts have helped to
curb Indianapolis crime and have
6
won the kudos of the President's
Crime Commission.
The exodus of policemen can be
stopped. Thousands of young men
can be persuaded to make law enforcement their career. But it will
require a major commitment from
ordinary citizens across the land,
not only in dollars but in spirit. As
Rep. Joel T. Broyhill, of Virginia,
has said, "In part because we, as ordinary citizens, have waited too long
to fight back, a pol ice uniform today
is the target for epithets and abuse.
It is time to ask our decen t citizens
for collective action; our public officials for more backbone; our courts
for more reality. We must stop this
nonsense not tomorrow, not next
week, but today."
Rep rints of this art icle arc available.
Prices, postpaid to one add ress: 10 - 50¢;
50 - $2; 100 - $3 .50; 500 - $ 12.50; 1000
- $18 . Address Reprint Editor, The
Readers Digest, Plcasamvillc, N.Y. 10570
REPRINTED FROM THE JANUARY 1968 ISSUE OF THE READER ' S DIGE ST
©1967 THE READER ' S DIGEST ASSOC I ATION , I NC., PLEASANTVILLE, N. Y. 10570 PRIN TED IN U.S.A.

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