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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Official Johnstown Police Report to the State of Pennsylvania - 1909

Official Johnstown Police Report to the State of Pennsylvania for the year of 1909. This is long - so I broke it up into sections to make it easier on the eyes. The first bit starts of with the usual bland stuff reports are made of - but it's the middle bit - that as I was typing it - made me both angry and sad - you'll see why...

Until recently the Police Department has been handicapped by an insufficient force, a very poor patrol wagon and no signal system. This department did not keep pace with the city's growth. The present chief has been tireless in his efforts to place it in a thoroughly efficient condition. Nine patrolmen, two patrol drivers and a modern motor patrol ambulance have been added during the present year. With the installation of an up-to-date signal system the city will enjoy the very highest grade of service.
Considering the size of the original force and their equipment excellent results were obtained. During 1909 - 3,562 arrests were made, 1,804 of this number were drunk, or drunk and disorderly; 201 were arrested as suspicious characters; 103 as vagrants; 344 for fighting and 82 for Sabbath desecration; the remaining 378 arrests were apportioned among twenty seven offenses.
It is manifested by these figures that a strenuous and successful effort was made to maintain a right-living community. Owing to the great numbers of the poorer grade of foreigners employed in the city and vicinity, maintaining peace is no small task.

Their offenses are not always of minor character, being frequently of a malicious nature; this was true particularly of the lower grades of Italians, Sicilians or Calabrians, who constitute an undesirable and troublesome class. Crime is particularly hard to trace among them because of their secrecy and reluctance to divulge information through fear of their fellow countrymen taking serious revenge. Of the 1,975 males arrested - 1,291 were foreigners and 130 colored; 166 females were arrested.
A system prevails here which might very profitably be followed in other Pennsylvania cities is that of making the prisoners work on the streets.

Johnstown has been getting excellent results. It has decreased the number of prisoners and also greatly depleted the forces of the annual army of vagrants arrested. It has given the city a larger force of street cleaners and laborers, and has generally resulted beneficially and profitably. As used here the system has worked permanent good for the community.


Fred V said...

Ah yes, the good old days when you could profile with impunity -- none of that tiresome political correctness!

How far have we come in 100 years ...

Vincent Eagan said...

Woah - That kind of shocked me, both because of the obvious racism (although I know this was written during a time when MANY in the US favored Eugenics - it was not until WWII that this idea fell out of favor) and also because of the number of arrests for "Sabbath Desecration" (does that mean simply working on Sunday - which isn't "the sabbath" and never was anyway?) and "suspicious character". Interesting to note the correlations - I wish I knew how many of those "suspicious character" arrests were Italians or Blacks. I also wonder when reforms were made so that some of these things were no longer arrestable offences?