Harriman Loot in Ridgefield

This article is likely from around 1932.  William Roth is found on the 1930 U.S. census as a 39-year-old male electrician living in North Bergen, Hudson County, New Jersey, with his wife Emma, both from Germany.  He arrived in the U.S. in 1913.

Allen Harriman, husband of the widow in this story, was the son of Joseph Harriman (cousin of future New York Governor W. Averell Harriman), who died in 1928 after an auto accident on Long Island.  His father Joseph Harriman was the president of Harriman National Bank & Trust.  Just the year before this incident, Joseph Harriman was arraigned on charges of bank fraud.  You can read more about his history here.

1931-1935 Harriman Loot in Ridgefield

HARRIMAN LOOT IN RIDGEFIELD

Jobless Electrician Is Held In Theft

Rare and valuable pieces of antique furniture, a moving picture camera and projector and other articles stolen last Thursday afternoon from The Crossaways, the home of Mrs. Allan Harriman, at Gigh Farms, Glen Head, L. I., were recovered yesterday in Ridgefield when police arrested William Roth at his home, 492 Columbia Avenue, just across the line from Cliffside Park.  Mrs. Harriman is the widow of the son of Joseph W. Harriman, the former banker who disappeared yesterday for the second time from a nursing home in New York.

Roth, police said, readily admitted the burglary.  After being booked on a charge of burglary and then fingerprinted he was turned over to the County authorities, who were ready to surrender him to the Long Island police if the prisoner waives extradition.  At Ridgefield headquarters Roth expressed his willingness to be returned to Long Island for trial without the formality of extradition proceedings.

The arrest of Roth was made on a “John Doe” warrant by Acting Chief August Kiel, Sergeant Walter Gallagher and Patrolman Arthur Kalbhenn of the Ridgefield Department, who were accompanied by Frank McCue, Chief of Police of Glen Cove, L. I. and Sergeant Detective James Farrell of the Nassau County Police Department.  Roth readily submitted to arrest, but before taking their prisoner to the police station, the officers searched the house taking with them articles corresponding in description to those appearing on a list given to to [sic] them by Mrs. Harriman.

The prisoner was identified as the robber by a young man, whose family it is understood will soon occupy the Harriman home.  The Long Island police refused to reveal the identity of this young man.  [except that they just said where he lives …]

According to the police this young man went to the Harriman home which is now unoccupied, but still contains the family’s furniture and personal effects last Thursday afternoon.  He saw a man removing furniture from the place and when he questioned him, the man, later identified as Roth, claimed he was a chauffeur for the family and was instructed to remove some articles from the house.

The young man though became suspicious and after jotting down the license number of the car used by the stranger, notified the police.  They immediately communicated with Mrs. Harriman, who claimed she had given no one permission to remove anything from her home.

An investigation by the authorities then revealed that a cellar window had been “jimmied” and a door leading into the house proper smashed.  A check up on the license number of the car used by the burglar showed it had been issued to Roth and immediately a warrant was sworn out charging burglary in the third degree.

While the value of the loot was placed conservatively at about $600 it is believed to be worth far more.  Roth maintained that this was the first crime he had ever committed, but police are working on the theory that he may have been one of a mob specializing in robbing homes of wealthy people now away for the summer.

This theory is strengthened by the fact that the prisoner when asked why he happened to select the Harriman home for the robbery he replied “I don’t know why but while riding through Long Island something came over me and I just drove in and did the job.”  While Roth stoutly maintained that he alone committed the theft, it is believed that he may have had the assistance of someone who informed him that the Harriman home was empty.

A search of Roth’s house, which he rents, according to the police revealed many beautiful dishes and rare articles of furniture in the attic.  They also say they found an unusually large assortment of valuable tools, many of which might be used in burglaries.

He claims he has not worked in more than a year and a half, but at the same time maintains two automobiles and the police say he has about $1,500 in two bank accounts at the Phoenix National Bank and the Irving Trust Company, New York.  He is 41 years old and is an electrician by trade.  Born in Germany he came to this country some years ago and when war broke out in 1917 became an American citizen and enlisted with the forces from this country.

He claims he has lived in Ridgefield about three years, but little is known of him here.

 

Supervisor Darrow is Giving Pistol Practice

Another unidentified, undated article.  This one is likely from around 1931, after he completed his fingerprint course but before he was promoted to Sergeant.

1931+ Supervisor Darrow is Giving Pistol Practice

Supervisor Darrow is Giving Pistol Practice

The Ridgefield Police Department have co-operated with several other departments in the county in imparting their knowledge of modern use of firearms, finger-printing, etc., to the other men.

Supervisor George F. Darrow, of the Ridgefield Police, a former Captain of the New York Police Department, is an expert in the use of firearms and consindered [sic] one of the authorities in that line in the United States.

Supervisor Darrow has been spending several hours three times each week training the members of the Edgewater Police Force, the classes having been inaugurated through the efforts of Police Chief James Dinan, of Edgewater.

Officer Walter Gallagher, who has recently completed such a course, has been instructing Lieutenant Rothacker, of the Tenafly Police, and Detective Soutiero, of the Englewood Police, several days each week in the modern methods of finger-printing, classification, etc.

Walter’s Personal Letter from Mayor

 

In 1932, Ridgefield elected a new Mayor, Emil Berger, who served one term (1932-1934).  Ridgefield eventually increased the Mayoral term to four years.  This is a letter that outgoing Mayor Clarence Davis wrote to each member of the police department.

1931 12 23 - personal letter from Mayor to Walter

Dec. 23, 1931

Mr. Walter W. Gallagher,
Member of the Police Department,
Borough of Ridgefield, N. J.

Dear Sergeant Gallagher:-

On January 1st I lay aside the responsibilities of your Mayor and Commander-in-Chief, and I desire in this personal letter to convey to you my appreciation of your cooperation and loyalty during my term of office.

While your Mayor, I expended a lot of energy and devoted considerable thought in behalf of the Police Department of the Borough of Ridgefield.  All but four men on the force were appointed while I was Councilman or Mayor, and I personally had a hand in their selection and have a personal interest in each of you.  While some of you may think I have been severe at times, my one interest has been to have each individual man do his full duty toward the citizens of the Borough of Ridgefield from whom you obtain your salary.

You have good jobs and an opportunity to grow in the service of the Borough if you conduct yourselves properly and keep out of politics.  The Police Department can be a political foot ball, to be kicked around with changes of administration, or the police can perform their duties so well that all political parties will leave them alone.  In the last year and nine months since the Department was reorganized, every effort has been made to keep you men out of politics.  The future rests with you.  Political affiliations and unnecessary gossip has been the cause of wrecking the careers of many good policemen.

You will soon have a complete new book of rules for your guidance, and I hope each one of you gentlemen will follow them absolutely and continue to develop as good policemen, having only in mind doing your full duty to the citizens of the Borough.

I again extend my personal thanks and at the same time I wish your good selves and families a Merry Christmas Season and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Sincerely yours,

[Clarence A. Davis]

MAYOR.

 

Sgt. Gallagher Aids Catch by Clever Work

The drama continues … you can read from the beginning here and here.

1931 08 09 Sgt Gallagher Aids Catch by Clever Work p1 (fake feds)SERGEANT GALLAGHER OF RIDGEFIELD AIDS CATCH BY CLEVER WORK

Revolver Shot Halts Pair As they Attempt to Escape by Window to Roof – Ridgefield Police Lauded

Charged with impersonating Federal officers and with demanding $2,000 from Anthony Monti, manager of Blue Bird Inn, Teaneck Road and Cedar Lane, Teaneck, to halt padlock proceedings against the inn on charges of violation of the dry laws, two men late last night were being held without bail by Sheriff Harold V. Reilly, of Bergen County.

The men had in their possession credentials from Amos W. Woodcock, chief of the Federal Prohibition Bureau, which, county detectives are certain, were stolen.  The men also had other documents from the prohibition office tending to show that they were bona fide agents for the bureau.  The detectives say that these either were forged or stolen, more likely the latter.

The men were caught, according to Sheriff Reilly’s men, shortly after Monti had handed over $300 to them in an upper room in the Half Way House, on Edgewater avenue, between Ridgefield and Ridgefield Park.  The money was found on the men who attempted to escape from the hotel by way of the roof.  A shot from a revolver of one of the detectives halted them.  They offered no further resistance and were taken to the Bergen County jail at Hackensack, where they said they were Rudolph Hayes, alias Rudolph Brunt, and Robert Davis, alias Stewart J. Dunn.  The latter had identification papers from the prohibition bureau made out in his name, the detectives say.  Sheriff Reilly will make a ther [sic] investigation into the records of the two men today.  The Federal authorities have been notified, and men from the prohibition bureau are expected to be in Hackensack today to question them.

For several weeks Sheriff Reilly has been receiving complaints that two men representing themselves as from the prohibition bureau, have been visiting innkeepers and restaurant owners in Bergen County and endeavoring to “shake them down” by threatening to padlock proceedings unless they handed up large sums.

Monti had been warned regarding the two men.  They went to the Blue Bird Inn, which recently was raided by Acting Prosecutor Hobart’s special mopper, Abraham Weinberg, now under indictment, and told Monti that he was threatened with padlocking, but that they could “fix it for $2,000,” according to the detectives.  The men produced their prohibition “credentials.”

“But,” Monti is alleged to have replied. “I can’t raise that much money. Can’t you come down a little?”

According to the story Monti is said to have told the detectives, the men finally agreed to settle for $500.

According to the information received, Monti arranged to meet the men over the money.  In the meantime, Monti telephoned to Sheriff Reilly, who immediately got in touch with Police Chief Hart of Teaneck, and Dawson of Ridgefield.  A plan was arranged.

Sergeant Walter Gallagher, of Ridgefield, did a clever piece of work in locating the room in which the alleged transaction was to take place, and in tracing them down.  As a result of his work, there was no hitch in the move to round them up.  In the police party were Detectives Henry Lustman and Patrolman Masterson of Ridgefield, and Undersheriff Ward.

1931 08 09 Sgt Gallagher Aids Catch by Clever Work p2 (fake feds)When Monti entered the room he is said to have told the men that he could not raise $500, but had succeeded in raising $300 and asked if it would be satisfactory.

The two men are alleged to have said that they were disappointed, but that if $300 was all that Monti could raise they would take that.  The money was passed over.  About the same time there was a knock at the door and a demand to open.  The two pseudo Federal officers attempted to escape by climbing out of a window and onto a roof.  The shot halted them.

It was Sergeant Gallagher, who for a week or more had been on the trail of the men, and worked to get sufficient evidence to cause their arrest.

George Armstrong, owner of the Half Way House, accompanied the two men to the inn.  Armstrong is a former dry agent.  The men were fingerprinted.  A checkup on their records was started last night by the Ridgefield copes, who were commended upon their good work.  It was Masterson who fired the shot halting the attempt to flee from the inn.

 

Fake Feds – More to the Story

I originally wrote about Walter’s role in this story here.  Here’s a little more on that story:

1931 08 09 Fake Federal Agents Nabbed‘Fake’ Federal Agents Nabbed in ‘Shakedown’

Sheriff Reilly’s Men Trap Pair As They Accept Money from Teaneck Inn Manager

DETECTIVE’S GUN HALTS ATTEMPT TO FLEE SCENE

Charged with impersonating Federal officers and with demanding $2,000 from Anthony Monti, manager of Blue Bird Inn, Teaneck road and Cedar lane, Teaneck, to halt padlock proceedings against the inn on charges of violation of the dry laws, two men late last night were being held without bail by Sheriff Harold V. Reilly, of Bergen County.

The men had in their possession credentials from Amos W. Woodcock, chief of the Federal Prohibition Bureau, which, county detectives are certain, were stolen.  The men also had other documents from the prohibition office tending to show that they were bona fide agents for the bureau.  The detectives say that these either were forged or stolen, more likely the latter.

The men were caught, according to Sheriff Reilly’s men, shortly after Monti had handed over $300 to them in an upper room in the Half Way House, on Edgewater avenue, between Ridgefield and Ridgefield Park.  The money was found on the men who attempted to escape from the hotel by way of the roof.  A shot from a revolver of one of the detectives halted them.  They offered no further resistance and were taken to the Bergen County jail at Hackensack, where they said they were Rudolph Hayes, alias Rudolph Brunt, and Robert Davis, alias Stewart J. Dunn.  The latter had identification papers from the prohibition bureau made out in his name, the detectives say.

Sheriff Reilly will make a further investigation into the records of the two men today.  The Federal authorities have been notified, and men from the prohibition bureau are expected to be in Hackensack today to question them.

Ends Three-Week Hunt

For several weeks Sheriff Reilly has been receiving complaints that two men representing themselves as from the prohibition bureau, have been visiting innkeepers and restaurant owners in Bergen County and endeavoring to “shake them down” by threatening padlock proceedings unless they handed up large sums.

Monti had been warned regarding the two men.  They went to the Blue Bird Inn, which recently was raided by Acting Prosecutor Hobart’s special mopper, Abram Weinberg, now under indictment, and told Monti that he was threatened with padlocking, but that they could “fix it for $2,000,” according to the detectives.  The men produced their prohibition “credentials.”

“But,” Monti is alleged to have replied.  “I can’t raise that much money. Can’t you come down a little?”

According to the story Monti is said to have told the detectives, the men finally agreed to settle for $500.

According to the information given out last night, Monti arranged to meet the men at the Half Way House and hand over the money.  In the meantime, Monti telephoned to Sheriff Reilly, who immediately got in touch with Police Chief Hart of Teaneck, and Dawson of Ridgefield.  A plan was arranged.

Sergeant Walter Gallagher, of Ridgefield, did a clever piece of work in locating the room in which the alleged transaction was to take place, and in tracing them down.  As a result of his work, there was no hitch in the move to round them up.  In the police party were Detectives Henry Lustman and Patrolman Masterson of Ridgefield, and Undersheriff Ward.

Accept $300

When Monti entered the room, he is said to have told the men that he could not raise $500, but had succeeded in raising $300, and asked if it would be satisfactory.

The men are alleged to have said that they were disappointed, but that if $300 was all that Monti could raise they would take that.  The money was passed over.  About the same time, there was a knock at the door and a demand to open.  The two pseudo Federal officers attempted to escape by climbing out of a window and onto a roof.  The shot halted them.

It was Sergeant Gallagher, who for a week or more had been on the trail of the men, and worked to get sufficient evidence to cause their arrest.

George Armstrong, owner of the Half Way House, accompanied the two men to the inn.  Armstrong is a former dry agent.  The men were fingerprinted.  A checkup on their records was started last night by the Ridgefield cops, who were commended upon their good work.  It was Masterson who fired the shot, halting the attempt to flee from the inn.

 

Walter and the Extortionists

This article is dated August 9, 1931, but as usual I have no idea what newspaper it is from; I can only assume it is the Ridgefield or Bergen County newspaper.  

1931 08 09 - Walter and the extortionistsAN ALERT POLICE OFFICER

Sergeant Walter Gallagher, of the Ridgefield police department, again exhibited this week some of the alertness which he is becoming noted for in Eastern Bergen County.  His heady work in the capture of two extortionists in Ridgefield this week merits official attention.

Detailed to trap two pseudo Prohibition agents who had demanded $500 from Anthony Monti, Blue Bird Inn manager, Gallagher took two policemen with him, filed with the county clerk the numbers of currency to be used in baiting the men, and arranged, with Monti, to indicate when the money was accepted by a tie-fingering signal.  The signal was to be delivered after Monti emerged from the restaurant where he was to meet the agents, and Gallagher, hidden in a building across the street, planned to swoop down and make the arrests.

Monti, on exiting, gave no signals.  So Gallagher, leaving one man to maintain watch, crept from his hiding place and met the inn-keeper several blocks ahead.  Monti said the men were suspicious and that they would not make themselves visible.  When they wanted a third party to accept the bribe he told them, he said, he had been unable to procure all the money.

Gallagher did not give up.  “Phone them from Teaneck and say you’ll be over with all the money,” he instructed Monti.  Monti did.  He re-entered the restaurant at 4 p. m.

This time, the tie-fingering signal was delivered.  Gallagher and his men scurried in and made the arrests.

The Ridgefield sergeant has distinguished himself at other times, capturing, with Patrolman Henry Lustman last year, a gang trio with which they engaged in gun battle.  Another time, Gallagher singlehandedly made a notable catch.

Alertness of this kind on Gallagher’s part indicates a brilliant career for him in police work.  New Jersey, and Ridgfield in particular, is fortunate to have so keen-witted an officer enforcing its laws.

 

Charge Officer Freed Prisoner

Well, looks like they weren’t kidding about cleaning house.  The incident and the committee hearing actually occurred in July 1930, before Walter was promoted to Sergeant.

1931 07 - Charge Officer Freed Prisoner p1Charge Officer Freed Prisoner

Lieut. Sucek, Ridgefield, Tried Before Police Body

Lieutenant Joseph Sucek of the Ridgefield Police Department, yesterday went on trial for a violation of department regulations.  Charges were preferred against him by Supervisor of Police George F. Darrow.

Lieutenant Sucek was charged with having released a suspicious prisoner who had been apprehended by the nigh force of the borough police, without making any effort to ascertain the identity of the man.

The decision of the police commission will be announced later.

Prisoner Released

At the opening of the trial a communication to the police commission from Supervisor Darrow was read in which he charged Sucek with releasing a prisoner who gave his name as Charles Kirkland, 35, of 52 Essex avenue, Paterson.

Kirkland, a negro, was arrested early the morning of July 18 by Patrolman Arthur Kalbhenn.  According to Kalbhenn his attention was attracted to the negro, who was driving a Buick car, by the fact that there were several tires loaded into the back seat of the car.  As he followed the car, Kirkland, according to Kalbhenn, kept turning about to watch if he was being followed.  After following the car for some time Kalbhenn ordered the driver to stop.  The latter refused to do so.  The police threatened to shoot, and the car came to a halt.  Kalbhenn took Kirkland to police headquarters and turned him over to Patrolman August Kiel, who was an [sic] desk duty.  Kiel made the entry of the arrest on the police blotter.

Shortly before 8 o’clock in the morning Kirkland asked Kiel if he might go to Paterson to get his registration and automobile license.  Kiel, who was going off duty at the time, referred him to Lieutenant Sucek.  Sucek, according to Darrow’s charge, released the prisoner on his own recognizance.

When Patrolman Walter W. Gallagher came on duty the next afternoon he was assigned to desk work.  As he looked over the blotter he noticed the entry recording the arrest of Kirland.  He inquired about it and Sucek is alleged to have replied that he released him so that he might go to Paterson for his license and registration card.

At the trial yesterday, Lieutenant Sucek told the police commissioners that it was a customary procedure in the police department to release automobile drivers arrested because they had not had their licenses or registrations.

1931 07 - Charge Officer Freed Prisoner p2

Shown Cars and Tires

“That’s all right,” interrupted Police Commissioner Clarence Kiel, “but you don’t mean to tell me that it is customary to release a suspicious character on his own recognizance, do you?”  Sucek replied that he did not know he was suspicious.

Sucek denied that he had any knowledge that the prisoner had tires in his automobile, although it was later testified that Sucek was shown the cars and the tires.

Commissioner Kiel was insistent that Sucek explain himself on the point that it was customary to release prisoners on their own recognizance.  “When and how long has this been the procedure?” inquired Kiel.  “During the time of Chief Bunce,” said Sucek.

Commissioner Kiel asked if it had been the procedure since the coming of Supervisor Darrow and Sucek replied that the practice was discontinued.  During the testimony it was brought out that Sucek was created a lieutenant during the administration of former Chief of Police Edwin Bunce.

The trial, which was held at the borough hall, was before Police Commissioners Henry Fomon, Clarence Kiel and former Mayor Alan B. Conor.  Mayor Clarence Davis sat in at the trial.

Before the commissioners terminated the trial, it was voted to send a communication to the council praising the action of Patrolman Kalbenn [sic] in apprehending Kirkland.

Yesterday, Patrolman Raymond Curry of the Paterson police department, identified the tires found in the Kirkland car as those stolen from his car July 17.  Paterson police have also reported that the Buick car which Kirkland was driving was stolen from Paterson.

 

Body of Drowned Woman Found by Ridgefield Police

This article appears to be from sometime after June 2, 1931, the day the woman was reported missing.  This article also appears to be from a newspaper published outside Ridgefield.

1931 06 - Body of Drowned Woman Found - no date (aft Jun 1931)

Body of Drowned Woman Found by Ridgefield Police

Officers Gallagher And Kalbhenn Find Body After Long Search

RIDGEFIELD – At 1:40 a. m. on Monday morning, William Brede and Harry Arnold, both of Jersey City, reported to Sergeant Walter Gallagher of the Ridgefield Police that while one of them was swimming in the Overpeck Creek with a woman companion, the woman had suddenly disappeared and they feared she had drowned.  The men were held and Patrolman Heilmann was sent to the spot to search for the woman but returned saying that he could find no trace of her.

At 8:00 a. m. Sergeant Gallagher and Patrolman Arthur Kalbhenn reported finding the body of the woman, fully clad, in the creek.  They had made a long and thorough search within a wide area of the spot pointed out to them and their efforts were rewarded.  The woman was about 32 years of age, had auburn hair, with brown eyes and was about 5 feet four inches tall.

Kalbhenn stood guard over the body which they had laid in a boat and Sergeant Gallagher hastened back to the department and notified the Coroner and the Prosecutor’s office.  The body was then removed to Hunt’s morgue.

The two men were questioned and their statements follow:

William Brede: “At about 7:10 p. m. on Sunday evening I met Harry Arnold of Jersey City.  He had been drinking and asked me to go for a ride with him.  We met a girl known to us only as Carrie, at Grand street, Hoboken, and drove on toward Bergen County.  Arnold and the girl said they wanted to go swimming, and we drove to the Overpeck Creek as we wanted to be in the vicinity of the 125th Street Ferry.

I sat in the car while they went swimming and waited there one half hour.  I then got out to look for them but could not find them and returned to the car.  A short time later, Arnold returned with a strange man and stated that while he had been diving from a springboard, the girl had disappeared and he could not find her.  He was afraid she had drowned.  The stranger advised us to report to the police and gave us directions to the Police Department.”

Harry Arnold made the following statement: “I met Harry Brede [sic] at about 7:00 p. m.  I had been drinking all day and we went to Hoboken and met a girl we knew as Carrie.  While swimming, I dove from a springboard and when I returned to where I had left the girl she was not there.  I called her and looked for her and could not find her.  I told a man I saw at a stand, and he told me to report to the police, which we did.”

The young woman was later identified by her husband and Carrie Eickman of Union City, who stated that she had been reported missing since June 2, 1931.

As the woman was fully dressed when found and the circumstances were so unusual, the men were held for ten days for a thorough probe of the case.

This is not the first time Sergeant Gallagher and Officer Kalbhenn have received the commendation of their superiors for their excellent police work.  The search and finding of the body was due to their stubborn persistence and adds another leaf to the record of good standing of the Ridgefield police.

 

April 1931 – Police Efficiency from a Citizen’s Standpoint

A.L. Diederich, Jr. provides his perspective on the efficiency of the Ridgefield Police Department following the burglary of his home in February 1931, and the department’s subsequent handling of the investigation.  Mr. Diederich apparently works for the American Cyanamid Company in New York City, but lives at 1025 Linden Ave., Ridgefield, N.J.

I note that Mr. Diederich incorrectly refers to Supervisor Darrow as “Chief Darrow” throughout the letter.  The Ridgefield Police Department did not have a Chief during this period of time.

1931 04 21 - letter to Mayor re police efficiencies p1

April 21st, 1931.

To The Mayor
and Board of Council
Borough of Ridgefield, N. J.

Gentlemen:

It appears timely to call to the people’s attention the improvements in police efficiency which have been introduced under the able direction of Chief Darrow.

Within a relatively brief space of time, our Police Department has been transformed by a process of training, and by introduction of modern scientific methods, from what was little more than a village constabulary to an efficient, well organized force equal to that of any in the metropolitan area.

Many citizens of the Borough are not familiar with this.  I, myself, until recently did not appreciate fully the competent service which our Police Department now renders to the Borough.

On February 13th, my house was ransacked by burglars.  The response of the Ridgefield Police, and their subsequent excellent police work in running down the culprits, has given me occasion to observe their methods and capabilities.

I was impressed first by the intelligence and general ability of the men who worked on the robbery of my house.  Their preliminary investigation of the case was methodical and thorough.  Then, they followed up immediately by taking finger prints.  They left no stone unturned in their efforts to apprehend the intruders.

When finally the robbers were apprehended in a neighboring borough, the fingerprints secured in my house by the Ridgefield Police were instrumental in proving the guilt of the suspects, and in eliciting from them a broad confession of a dozen or more similar robberies in Bergen County.

I was also impressed by the fact that the policemen who worked on this case wore badges indicating accomplishments in marksmanship.  The course of pistol training in which all Ridgefield policemen must qualify should be an added assurance to the people.  In respect to marksmanship, few if any police departments in Bergen County are so well training and so certainly “sure shots”.

1931 04 21 - letter to Mayor re police efficiencies p2

The citizens should also know that our “cops” take regular courses in criminal law and police work under Chief Darrow, and must pass with qualifying grades or lose their jobs.  Also, they ought to know that three of the members of the force are graduates of the New York City Police Academy.  And they should know that the Ridgefield Police Department has a qualified finger print expert – from whom the police of other Bergen County Boroughs are taking instruction.

All these, it must be conceded, are unusual in a town of the size of Ridgefield, and mean just this: The people of Ridgefield enjoy a high degree of security due to superior police protection.  Every citizen will do well to investigate these things for himself, and learn just what has been accomplished under Chief Darrow’s direction.

In closing, I want to say that the police work of Officers Gallagher, Lustmann, and Kahlben in connection with the robbery of my house, merits the highest commendation.  Mr. Gallagher’s fingerprints, as before stated, “did the trick”.  In addition, on his own time, he investigated a dozen or more suspects in neighboring towns over a period of two months.  Mr. Kahlben and Mr. Lustmann showed every courtesy and did their bit – indicating that the entire force is striving to give service of a high standard.

The Mayor and Board of Council are to be congratulated on having selected Chief Darrow, and for having cooperated with him in making possible his introduction of modern methods in the Police Department.

Yours very truly,

A.L. Diederich, Jr.

ALD:b

cc:  Chief Darrow

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.