Sergeant Appointment Scandal

In my last post, Walter and another patrolman had just been appointed Sergeant, despite the objections of a couple of Council members.  These articles are undated, but I believe they are from April 10, 1931, like the last article.  Brace yourselves: here comes the drama.

1931 04 10 - Gallagher named SergeantAugust Keil, acting sergeant, of the police department of Ridgefield, and Walter Gallagher, patrolman, were appointed sergeants at council meeting last night.  Keil has been on the force six and a half years.  He was awarded the Mayor’s trophy for shooting, December 15, 1930.  He is the champion shot of the department.  Gallagher, who has been on the force two years and three months, has been publicly commended by the Mayor three times, twice for his courgae [sic], and once for sharpshooting.  He has qualified as a fingerprint expert, at the Criminal Identification Bureau, in New York.

1931 04 12 - Sgt appointment scandal

Sergeant Appointments Of Mayor Under Attack

Kiel and Gallagher Get Positions Despite Charges of Vassily and Hildebrand that Mayor Disregards Statutes

Patrolmen August Kiel and Walter Gallagher of Ridgefield last night were elevated to the rank of sergeant over the dissenting votes of Councilmen Vassily and Charles Hildebrand.

Debate on the promotions involved an exchange between Vassily and Mayor Clarence A. Davis in which the councilman accused Mayor Davis of disregarding statutes governing police promotions.

The promotions take effect immediately, but salary increases will not begin until July 1, 1931.  Kiel, who has served seven years, will be given an increase of $200 over his present salary of $2,500.  Gallagher, appointed to the force in 1929, will receive a $350 raise.

In anticipation of dissent, Mayor Davis followed his reading of the resolution authorizing the promotions by defending his stand in determining the elevations by written examination drawn up by a New York police specialist.

“I entered office,” he said, “with three definite intentions: to straighten out the borough’s finances, to reduce taxes and to build up a police department in which politics should play no part.”  He then read a review of the manner in which the promotions had been determined by examination, with the exception of allowing one point for each year of service.

When Vassily gained the floor he read an excerpt from New Jersey statutes governing police promotions, which he interpreted to mean that only patrolmen with three years or more of service may be elevated to the rank of sergeant and that promotions must be made solely on the basis of seniority.

Mayor Davis acknowledged the clause requiring “due regard for seniority of service” ___ comparing patrolmen’s qualifications for promotion, but declared this clause had been compiled [sic complied] with in allowing one point in the examination for each year’s service.  The three-year clause, he argued, had been superseded.

Of six patrolmen who took examinations March 21, Kiel received the highest rating at 91.87 per cent.  Gallagher, next in line, received an average of 87.40 per cent.  The test embraced seniority and record and mental capacity.

The examinations were prepared by Captain James Skehan, New York police department.  Skehan has served twenty-seven years in the department.  His work has included police and detective activities, and the duties of instructor at New York Police college.  He has written several books on practical police work, and has received the congressional medal [sic] in addition to numerous awards of honorable mention from his department.  Captain Skehan also rated the contestants from their examination papers which did not bear the contestants’ identities.

Kiel, who is married and lives at 432 Chestnut street, was born April 20, 1892, at Wurtenberg, Germany.  He was appointed to the Ridgefield police department July 23, 1924.

Gallagher, born in New York Feb. 26, 1902, was appointed June 10, 1929.  He is married and lives at 654 Virgil avenue.  He has one son in grammar school.




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