In the wake of his heroic adventures, Walter received a letter of commendation from the Police Commission.
Mr. Walter Gallagher,
Borough of Ridgefield.
Dear Officer Gallagher:-
The Police Commission take this opportunity to commend you for the very efficient and courageous manner in which you handled a difficult situation on Feb., 25th, 1930.
It is fearless work of this character that the citizens of our Borough appreciate.
With our heartiest congratulations, we are,
Ridgefield Police Commission
Clarence A. Davis Pres.
Alan B. Conor
Henry Formon, Secty.
At the next Commission meeting, this Resolution was made:
Presented by Councilman Brown
that the Mayor and Council express their commendation and appreciation of the capable and courageous action of Officers Walter W. Gallagher and Henry J. Lustmann in which they handled the hazardous situation that occurred on Feb. 25th, 1930, and that the Clerk be and hereby is instructed to send a copy of this resolution to each of the officers.
I hereby certify that the above is a true copy of resolution passed and approved by the Mayor and Council at a regular meeting held on March 4, 1930.
(Signed) C. A. Davis
(Signed) Adele McDermott
This article, presumably from February 27, 1930 (paper unknown), is another in the long string of public accolades surrounding the heroic feats of my great grandfather, Walter Gallagher.
Jersey Justice Redeems Reputation
“Jersey Justice,” which in former years meant swift and exact justice to criminals, came back into its own yesterday when three gangsters from New York City were started for state prison to serve maximum terms of seven years, 24 hours after they had been arrested.
This exemplification of old-time “Jersey Justice” is a flash-back into the past that should continue as a paragon for all law-enforcement authorities throughout the state.
It was Bergen County that yesterday brought back this all but forgotten kind of justice.
Three gangsters were overhauled after a running chase from Hudson County in Ridgefield. The Ridgefield police got the credit for the capture and obtaining confessions of enough crimes to send them to prison. Then Prosecutor West stepped into the picture and with the aid of Common Pleas Judge Mattock swift justice was meted out. The gangsters did not want to be taken back to New York City lest they be sent to prison for life as fourth offenders under the Baumes laws. They were so anxious to escape trial in New York that they readily pleaded guilty to four charges.
It is unknown when or in which paper this article was published. I believe it to be 1929 or 1930, as I think Alan Conor was Mayor until 1928, but if the articles are in a somewhat chronological order in the scrapbook, one has to wonder about the timing of it in light of other recently published heroic tales …
No Negligence on Part of Lustman in Carruth Death, He Says
On examination of a preliminary report by investigators of his staff on the death of Charles P. Carruth, who died Saturday of heart disease in Ridgefield jail where he was held on a charge of drunkenness and disorderly conduct, Prosecutor Edward O. West said yesterday he had found no indication of negligence on the part of Patrolman Lustman, Ridgefield policeman, who arrested Carruth.
The report was required by the prosecutor after an autopsy performed by Acting County Physician Dr. Arthur W. Greenfield revealed that no alcohol had been in Carruth’s stomach when he died. According to an earlier report made by the Ridgefield Park police physician, Carruth had died from acute alcoholism.
Carruth, a member of a prominent Hempstead, L. I., family, was arrested near Overpec kbridge [sic] Friday night. Patrolman Lustman had been detailed to the scene after persons living in the vicinity of the bridge had reported to police headquarters that a man, apparently drunk, was shouting profanely from his car, near the bridge.
According to Lustman, Carruth had left the car and fallen in the road which he had attempted to cross. The policeman found him on the ground, he said, and took him to headquarters. Lustman says the man showed every indication of being drunk and made no protest that he was ill. If he had, he added, a physician would have been called.
Former Mayor Alan B. Conor, a member of the Ridgefield police commission, said Sunday night, that no investigation of the department’s disposition of Carruth’s case would be made by the commission. He believes, he said, that the other commissioners would agree with him that the patrolman on duty had no occasion to call a doctor. Only persons who notify the police they are sick, he said, are visited by a physician.
“If we called a doctor for every man arrested on a charge of drunkenness,” he said, ” we might as well close the borough treasury.”
Prosecutor West said when he announced he would make an investigation that he believed there had been no criminal avtion [sic] on the part of the police.
“But the unusual nature of the case,” he said, “warrants an investigation by this office.”
Clearly, this was big news in Ridgefield.
Jersey Justice Moves Swiftly for Trio Caught by Ridgefield Police
TRIO EVIDENTLY FEARED HOBOKEN RACKETEERS
Within 24 hours after they had been arrested by Policeman William Gallagher, of Ridgefield, three New York gangsters, all of whom have records of three and four convictions for robberies and assaults, yesterday were sentenced to seven years each in State Prison by Judge Frederick W. Mattocks, at Hackensack. They will be taken to the Trenton prison this morning.
The men are: Michael Toohey, 28, of 297 East 135th street; John J. Carroll, 22, or 356 139th street, and William Steart, 21, of 427 West 135th street.
The formal charges against the men were: Transporting a stolen auto in their possession, reckless driving, and failing to stop when signalled [sic] to do so by a policeman.
The three, it is said, had plotted to take a Hoboken gangster for a ride, but when their plans were discovered made their escape in an automobile which they had stolen from 70th street and Third avenue, New York.
The men pleaded guilty to all four of the charges. They regarded this as their safest course. Had they fought the case it is probable that they would have been turned over to the police of New York for the theft of the car. Under the Baumes law 1 operative in that state, they would have been sentenced to life imprisonment, if convicted, the Baumes law making such sentence mandatory upon the fourth conviction.
The trio also feared that if liberated they would be taken for rides by friends of the Hoboken gangster. The fact remains, however, that Bergen County yesterday upheld the traditions of Jersey justice by sentencing the men within 24 hours after their arrest.
According to the report in Ridgefield last night, Patrolman Gallagher, the youngest member of the department in point of service, is to be honored by the borough council. He has been on the force less than six months.
- Named after Caleb H. Baumes, chairman of the New York State Crime Commission, who proposed the reforms to the criminal code; enacted in New York on July 1, 1926, Baumes laws required mandatory life imprisonment for a fourth felony conviction. Since each of these men already had at least three felony convictions, they would have spent the rest of their lives in prison ↩
On the evening of February 26, 1930, a meeting of the police commission was held. One topic of discussion was a result of the hearing reported here. The other topics are directly related to these prior posts:
Meeting of Police Commission called on Feb. 26/30, at 830 P.M.
Clarence Davis, Pres.
Henry Formon Sec.
Motion made by Alan Conor & seconded by Clarence Kile that Tel. Co. be notified to cut off connection at board for Mr. Edw. S. Bunce’s home; also that Borough will not be responsible for calls coming from phone at Morsemere 4677.
Motion made by Henry Formon & seconded by Clarence Kile that letters of apreciation [sic] be sent to Officers Gallagher & Lustman commending them on their capture of three criminals. Letters form a part of this record.
Motion made by Alan Conor & seconded by Clarence Kile that letter also be sent to Mayor & Council commending the action of Officer Gallagher & Lustman, also part of this record.
Motion made & seconded to adjourn 11 P.M.
This act occurred on Friday, February 21, 1930, but was not reported in the newspaper until the following Thursday, February 27.
Tried Before Police Commissioners On Charges of Neglect of Duty
RIDGEFIELD, N. J. — On Friday afternoon of last week Police Chief Edward S. Bunce was dismissed from the Ridgefield Police Department after a hearing which had been postponed several times. Mr. Bunce did not attend the hearing but was represented by his Counsel, William S. George. The charges against him were neglect of duty and failure to wear his uniform.
He was tried by Commissioners Conor, Kile and Forman and Mayor Clarence A. Davis.
The hearing had been postponed from Thursday evening until Friday afternoon. Attorney George had asked for a week’s postponement but it was not granted, and on Friday afternoon he sent his representative Mayer Hilliel, to ask again for the week’s postponement stating that the chief’s two witnesses were out of town.
Mayor Davis presided at the meeting. Commissioner Kile who preferred the charges against the Chief and Mr. Rose of the Prosecutor’s office were the witnesses. A recommendation for dismissal will be placed before the Mayor and Council at the next meeting and the next step will be the appointment of a Supervisor of Police. Mayor Davis stated that the officials had sought a man who is capable of handling the Departmnet [sic], and at the same time instruct the men under him in modern police procedure. He hopes that when this has been accomplished, the Police Department will not be the source of further worry.
This February 1930 article is another in a series of roughly 10 preserved articles about Walter Gallagher courageously apprehending three hardened criminals.
Exchange Club Congratulates Officers
At the meeting of the Ridgefield Exchange Club at which most of the members were present, the president with the advice of the members instructed the secretary to send letters to Officers Gallagher and Lustmann commending them for their display of courage in capturing the three bandits in the stolen car last week.
The members have started plans for a smoker which is to be held next month. A letter was read commending the members in the work done by them in the erection of the War Memorial in the Morsemere section. Several members of the Cliffside Park Exchange Club were guests at this Luncheon. President Samuel Hendricks was unable to attend this meeting due to illness.
RIDGEFIELD POLICE COURT NEWS
This week’s session of the Ridgefield Police Court was a busy one. Recorder Baker presided and Henry Valle of Hackensack pleaded guilty to passing the red light. He was find $5.00 and costs.
Nicholas Feingold of Union City preferred a charge of reckless driving against Emil Knudson of Palisades Park. Knudsen pleaded guilty and was fined $5.00 and costs.
— Carl Hendrickson of Fairview appeared to answer to a charge of reckless driving preferred against him by Robert Nyman of Town. He pleaded guilty and was fined $5.00 and costs of Court.
— Officers Gallagher and Kalbhenn preferred several charges against Joseph Papalia of North Bergen. He was charged with disorderly conduct, parking without lights, driving without license and after he had been checked up on this last offense, it was found that he had had his license revoked some time ago. He was fined a total of $32.50 on the first three offenses and $200.00 for driving after his license had been revoked. This made a total fine of $232.50.
In continuation of the accolades received from thwarting the escape of three hardened criminals, several articles appeared in the paper over the days following. This is one of them. Thank goodness these men were locked up without a moment’s delay. Clearly, this was before Miranda – “Jersey Justice” indeed.
CLAP hands for Patrolman Walter Gallagher of Ridgefield, whose alert eye knew three disreputable citizens when it lit on them, and whose persistence, bravery, and quick-wittedness resulted in the arrest of three dangerous, and much-sought offenders of the law, this week.
A member of the Ridgefield police force only six months, Gallagher was standing on duty, Tuesday afternoon, when three suspicious-looking men were passing through the town. He hailed them, and, when they refused to acknowledge his hail, he leaped into a police runabout and chased them, defying what might have developed into a shower of bullets for him. [Even though the only shots fired were from the police]
He picked another patrolman up, and they both continued the chase. Finally, after being cut off and subjected to other tricks well-known to escaping gangsters, he and his companion, Patrolman Henry Lustman, another courageous policeman, corralled the men.
The trio, with records of auto stealing, robberies and assaults innumerable, were sentenced to seven years in States prison, TWENTY-FOUR HOURS LATER.
Clap hands not only for Patrolmen Gallagher and Lustman, but also for the “Jersey Justice” that refused to delay trial of these men so that they could retain loophole-finding criminal lawyer sharks.
This February 26, 1930 article likely appeared in the local newspaper, The Record. It was front-page news, according to the notation on the continuation of the article, and plays out like a chase scene in a old movie. Too bad they got Pop’s name wrong.
Frustrated in Alleged Attempt to Take Hoboken Gangster “For a Ride
RIDGEFIELD POLICEMAN MAKES SENSATION CATCH
In a wild chase through the residential section of Ridgefield and the West Grantwood section, during which many shots were fired, three bandits were captured yesterday afternoon by Patrolman William [sic] Gallagher, a “rookie” cop, and Patrolman Henry Lustman, after, it is said, the trio had been frustrated in an alleged attempt to take a Hoboken gangster “for a ride.”
All of the three have police records in New York. The automobile in which they were riding was recognized as having been stolen Sunday night from 70th street and Third avenue, New York. The men are:
John Carroll, 22, of 356 East 139th street, convicted three times in New York, twice for robbery and once for assault and battery.
Michael Toohey, 28, of 297 East 135th street, convicted three times in New York for robbery.
William Stewart, 21, of 427 West 135th street, convicted twice in New York for theft.
According to the story given out by the police, the men admitted being in a saloon in Hoboken earlier in the day. It was said that while there they discussed taking someone “for a ride.” Their conversation, it appears was overheard, and the men, knowing this, jumped into the automobile and fled, pursued by another car, which they outdistanced. On the Boulevard they drove at a fast rate of speed, ignoring signal lights. At Tonnele avenue and Hackensack plankroad they narrowly missed running down Patrolman Herman Farcender, of the Hudson County police, who had the stop signal set against them. Farcender commandeered another car and gave chase. He recognized the car as the one for which a description had been broadcast from New York. The men escaped him.
Farcender, when he saw that he could not overtake the trio, telephoned the Ridgefield police to be on the lookout for them. The men, however, succeeded in eluding the Ridgefield police sent out to trap them.
Shortly after 12 o’clock noon, while Patrolman Gallagher was on duty at Edgewater avenue and Shaler boulevard, Ridgefield, directing traffic to safeguard the children, he saw the car in which were the three men approaching. There was something about the men, Gallagher says, that excited his suspicion. He signaled for them to stop, but instead of doing so they stepped on the gas. Nearby was the Ridgfield Park police car which Gallagher had used to take him to the school. He jumped into the car and started in pursui of the men. Gallagher managed to ride abreast of them. The driver of the other car attempted to ditch him at least a score of time, once forcing Gallagher to run his car upon the sidewalk. The policeman was unable to draw his revolver, the management of the car requiring all of his attention.
While speeding up the state highway, Gallagher saw Patrolman Lustman a short distance ahead. He signaled the latter to stop the fleeing car, but Lustman was unable to do so. Gallagher slowed down to let Lustman in the car and then renewed the chase. Time and again the fleeing car attempted to ditch the police. Near Bergen boulevard, where there is a steep embankment, the bandits tried to force the police car off the road, but failed.
Police Open Fire
Both cars were being driven at breakneck speed. Patrolman Lustman drew his revolver and opened fire on the trio. All three crouched down on the seat, but made no attempt to return fire. Lustman aimed at the rear wheels and succeeded in blowing a tire, bringing the car of bandits to a stop.
The men were taken to Ridgefield police headquarters and after being booked on charges of driving a car without a license were taken to the Bergen County jail in Hackensack by Patrolman Gallagher. They will be given a hearing this morning before Judge Charles J. McCarthy of the First District Criminal Court.
This article is from January 22, 1930 (according to Pop’s handwritten reference). The newspaper is unknown, but is likely The Record.
Chief Bunce Of Ridgfield Is Superseded
Council Passes Ordinance to Create Office of Supervisor of Police
OUT-OF-TOWN MAN IS TO BE GIVEN THE POSITION
The ordinance to create the office of supervisor of police, which when filled will supersede Chief Edward Bunce, last night was passed by Ridgefield borough council. Those who favored the passage of the ordinance were: Councilman Schuerlein, Brown, Bergen, Vassily; opposed — Kearny and Hildebrandt.
In answer to the remarks made by Police Commissioner Kile, that if any citizen would prefer charges against any member of the police department, he, as police commissioner would back those charges up to the fullest extent, Councilman Charles Hildebrandt said: “If, as the police commissioner contends, there is anyone on the force who ought to be brought up on charges, it is the duty of the police commissioner to prefer those charges, and if he won’t prefer them, let him resign and we’ll get a police commissioner who will.”
Won’t Cost More
It was pointed out by Mayor Clarence A. Davis, that the creation of a supervisor of police would not cost the taxpayers a cent more than they are now paying. In answer to the mayor, someone asked why the police budget was increased and how did they expect to get a person from the outside to come in and supervise the police department without being paid for his services. What the mayor meant by his remarks about the cost was taken for granted by many, that the increased police budget would take care of the paying of the supervisor.
Former Councilman Smith stressed before the council, that the people did not need a police supervisor, instead, he said, let the members of council and the police commissioners get down to work and see that the police force is run properly. He added when he was a member of council, no trouble was had in seeing that the police department functioned properly.
Lack of patrolmen at dangerous crossings was discussed and, it was charged that this condition would not exist if council properly looked after the police department.
The budget for 1930 was adopted. It was shown that $171,150.00 will be raised by taxes. Councilman Hildebrandt voted against the budget because of an appropriation of $25,000 for street improvements, which, he said, was too high.
The borough attorney will be requested to look up a law which, supposed to have been passed in 1862, making it unlawful to use tokens as money. If there is such a law it will be used in the fight against the Public Service.