Box 12, Folder 28, Document 1

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Box 12, Folder 28, Document 1

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Readers Digest


Bedeviled by long, hazardous hours, low pay, public
abuse and unrealistic court decisions, policemen
across the country are at an all-time low in morale.
Is it any wonder that police departments are so
dangerously undermanned that crime is flourishing?

Our Alarming


ORE THAN 2500 major crimes
are committed during a
typical week in the city of

Los Angeles. Twenty-five women
are raped; four citizens are mur-
dered; 190 others are beaten, knifed
or shot. Police switchboards light up
with reports of 153 robberies, 445
stolen cars, 637 larcenies involving
$50 or more, and 1076 housebreak-
ings. Yet this orgy of lawlessness is
no reflection on the Los Angeles Po-
lice Department. “We just don’t
have the manpower to keep crime in
check,” says embattled police chief
Thomas Reddin. “We need 10,000
men, but we can’t even fill our au-
thorized strength of 5383.”

Officials in every section of the
country echo Chief Reddin’s com-
plaint. America is desperately un-
derprotected—at a time when crime
is growing six times faster than
population—and the situation is
worsening rapidly. Demoralized by
inadequate wages, frustrated by
judicial nitpicking, sickened by citi-
zen apathy, policemen by the thou-
sands are turning in their badges,
while potential replacements look
elsewhere for employment. A sur-
vey of 36 major departments from
Boston to Honolulu discloses
that vot one is up to authorized
strength. U.S. Assistant Attorney
General Fred Vinson, Jr., puts the


nationwide police shortage at a
frightening 50,000.

On the Run. New York’s 73rd
Precinct—the teeming Brownsville
section of Brooklyn—is a micro-
cosm of the national problem. Last
summer, the “normal complement”
of 374 men needed to safeguard the
area was short by more than 100.
Bone-weary officers put in 16-hour
days in the attempt to maintain
law and order. But they were no
match for marauding criminals.
Homicides soared. Stores were re-
peatedly 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, New
York officials have launched a high-
powered recruiting campaign. But
their problem is not unique. Re-
cruiters from the Washington, D.C.,
police department comb the eastern
United States, and cannot fill the
nearly 400 vacancies on their 3100-
man force. Meanwhile, crime in the
nation’s capital increased 38 percent
in a recent 12-month period.

Behind the cold statistics are the
individuals who suffer: the mer-
chant forced out of business by re-
peated holdups; the pretty teen-ager
dishigured for life by an assailant’s
razor; the young housewife thrust
into widowhood by an armed rob-
ber—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 demonstrated vividly in

mid-1966, when hundreds of Chi-
cago police were taken off their reg-
ular 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.

High Risk, Low Pay. The shame-
ful 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
Plainfield, N.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
Newark, 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 policeman shot to death
by a sniper during the July riot. “I’m
not afraid, but my wife’s near a ner-
vous breakdown.”

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 police-
men as well as harried young pa-
trolmen who, at least for now, are
sticking it out. From their stories
this deplorable financial picture

Although the Office of Economic

Opportunity puts the poverty level
at $3200 for a non-farm family
of four, patrolmen in Dickson,
Tenn., start at $2400 a year; in Du-
rant, Okla., at $2760; in Glasgow,
Ky., at $3000. Coeur d'Alene, Idaho,
pays its patrolmen an annual $5280,
but requires them to work 54-hour

Salaries in larger cities, while
higher, are nonetheless disgraceful.
In Seattle, cable splicers earn $375 a
month more than policemen; Chi-
cago electricians receive $1.40 an
hour more than the patrolman on
the beat; carpenters in New York
command 50 percent more per hour
than patrolmen. Moreover, the cable
splicer, electrician and carpenter
work 35- or 40-hour weeks, with gen-
erous overtime. The policeman toils
nights and holidays, rarely with
overtime, often under incredible
strain, his life frequently in danger.
In 1966, 23,000 policemen were as-
saulted in the line of duty.

More appalling than low pay to
many policemen is the attitude of
the public. “I’m willing to take my
chances with the punks and the
hoods,” says a veteran policeman in
Baltimore. “All T ask is a little sup-
port from the average citizen.”

Yet, all too often, people “walk
the other way.” For half an hour,
two members of the California
Highway Patrol teetered on the edge
of a bridge 185 feet above San Pedro
Bay, struggling to save a man bent
on suicide. Again and again they
shouted for help to passing cars. Not
one driver stopped, or even bothered

to call for aid when he reached the
end of the bridge.

In another instance, a San Fran-
cisco policeman attempted to arrest
two drunks on a downtown street.
Forty minutes later he was carried
into San Francisco General Hos-
pital, his cheek slashed open, his
nose broken. “The crowd just let
them beat me,” he said. “People act
as if the police were their enemies.”

Case Dismissed. Another major
factor in the sorry state of police
morale is the series of vague and
loosely worded Supreme Court rul-
ings handed down in recent years.
Consider these typical cases reported
to the Senate Subcommittee on
Criminal Laws and Procedures:

° “This fellow went through a
red light and ran into me,” an angry
motorist told the policeman dis-
patched to the scene of a traffic acci-
dent in Providence, R.I. “Is that so?”
the officer inquired of the second
motorist. The latter admitted that he
had indeed run the light. Later, the
case against him was thrown out of
court. Why? The policeman had
failed to notify him of his rights, as
required by the Supreme Court’s
1966 Miranda decision,* before ask-
ing, “Is that so?”

e An officer in Torrance, Calif.,
picked up two young men on nar-
cotics charges. Acutely aware of
Miranda, the policeman informed
the suspects, “You have the right to

*Which says that a suspect must be in-
formed of his right to silence, of his right to
a lawyer even if he cannot afford one, and of

the fact that anything he says can be held
against him in court.

the services of an attorney during all
stages of the proceedings against
you.” Not 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 question-
ing.” The defendants left the court-
room grinning.

“Nitpicking of this kind has had
a disastrous effect on our force,” says
Lt. Lee J. Ashman, head of the
Torrance narcotics squad. “Some
veteran officers have become so frus-
trated they've simply quit.”

Turnstile Justice. Just as demoral-
izing is the cavalier attitude that
many judges have toward juvenile
crime. Consider the case of Harry
Sylvester Jones, Jr., a Washington,
D.C., delinquent who was given an
early release from reform school—
only to embark on a criminal career
that included rape, auto theft and
grand larceny. Sentenced to prison
three times in eight years, Jones was
three times released on parole or
probation. Within seven months af-
ter he was released for the third
time, he had raped two women at
knife-point, stabbed another nine
times as she knelt in church, and
committed his third rape against a
54-year-old woman he trapped in an

Jones is hardly unique. Police files
in every state bulge with cases in
which innocent members of society
pay for the mistakes of unrealistic
judges and parole officers. The ca-
reers of Gregory Ulas Powell and

Jimmy Lee Smith, young Califor-
nians who had amassed 25 arrests by
the time they were 30, are depress-
ingly typical.

On the night of March 9, 1963, en
route to their fifth robbery in two
weeks, Powell and Smith were
stopped for a defective taillight by
Los Angeles policemen Ian James
Campbell and Karl Hettinger. The
unsuspecting officers were prompt-
ly kidnaped at gunpoint, driven
north into Kern County and
marched onto a deserted field. As
the officers stood with their hands
raised, Powell calmly fired a .32-cali-
ber bullet into Campbell’s mouth.
Hettinger whirled and ran, miracu-
lously escaping as Powell sought to
gun him down and Smith pumped
four more slugs into the dying

The lesson to be learned from
that March night is the folly of
turnstile justice. Campbell’s killers
were both on parole. Eight times
they had been the recipients of ju-
dicial leniency in the form of con-
ditional release, parole or probation.
Nor has their luck run out. Cap-
tured within hours of the murder,
the two were convicted and _sen-
tenced to death. But, last July, the
California Supreme Court reversed
the convictions on the ground that
the defendants had not been fully
advised of their rights, and ordered
a new trial, perhaps providing an-
other opportunity to prove that
crime does pay.

“The. weakness in our handling of
repeating offenders has caused vet-

eran law-enforcement officers to
throw up their hands in despair,”
says FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
“Worse, it makes outstanding young
men reluctant to enter the law-
enforcement profession at the very
time their services are so gravely

A Major Commitment. What can
we do to close the dangerous “police
gap”? Two steps are clearly called

1. We must pay the police a living
wage. James Royer, father of two,
resigned from the Cincinnati police
department in the summer of 1966.
“My rank is that of police specialist,”
he wrote. “My salary, after nine
years, is $7507. I have no union, no
guild and very few rights—civil or
otherwise. Our city personnel officer
classifies me as semi-skilled labor—
my college degree, graduate work,
advanced training and years of pro-
fessional experience notwithstand-
ing. Private industry has offered me
a substantial salary increase and an
opportunity for advancement. I re-
gret that this could not be achieved
as an employe of the people of Cin-

Jim Royer was not alone, as City
Councilman John E. Held was
shocked to find. Many of the city’s
outstanding policemen were quit-
ting the force to accept higher-pay-
ing jobs as guards, truck drivers,
salesmen. Crime was up sharply; the
number of offenses culminating in
arrest was down 25 percent from
the preceding year.

Held led the fight for the creation

of a nonpartisan crime committee.
Mobilizing public support, the com-
mittee won an immediate $rooo pay
hike for Cincinnati’s policemen,
with promises of more to come.
Today, a bit more than a year later,
morale is measurably improved.
Resignations and retirements have
been slashed by two thirds, and the
force is again attracting ambitious
young recruits. “We've got to un-
derstand,” says John Held, “that
you can’t stop crime with an under-
manned police force whose morale
has been broken.”

2. We must provide the police the
moral support they so desperately
need. Throughout the country, po-
lice efforts to improve community
relations have been undermined by
a concerted campaign of abuse.
Commonest charge is that of “police
brutality.” Yet a task force of the
President’s Crime Commission,
which witnessed 5339 “police-citizen
encounters,” during 850 eight-hour
patrols, found only 20 cases in which
police were felt to have used un-
necessary force. “That is a record of

_ satisfactory performance in 99.63 per-

cent of the sample under study,”
says syndicated newspaper colum-
nist James J. Kilpatrick. “What
other occupation or profession boasts
a better record?”

To counterbalance the work of po-
lice-baiting groups, Fred E. Inbau,
professor of criminal law at North-
western University, recently formed
an organization called Americans
for Effective Law Enforcement “to
represent the law-abiding public and

its embattled protectors.” Enthusi-
astically 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
model anti-crime statutes; and argue
major cases in the nation’s courts.

Meanwhile, in Indianapolis, a
band of housewives has demon-
strated 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
initiated the Indianapolis Anti-
Crime Crusade in March 1962. Since
then, enlisting more than 60,000
women in its ranks, the Crusade has
won badly needed pay hikes for the
Indianapolis police, lobbied for ef-
fective 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

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 en-
forcement 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 or-
dinary citizens, have waited too long
to fight back, a police uniform today
is the target for epithets and abuse.
It is time to ask our decent citizens
for collective action; our public of-
ficials for more backbone; our courts
for more reality. We must stop this
nonsense not tomorrow, not next
week, but today.”

Reprints of this article are available.
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