Introduction

Dayton Police Department - 1910
Pages 5-9

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Continued...

"Every gift necessary to the maintenance of an enduring civilization has been granted by Nature to this favored region. Not even the famed and historic valleys of the Ganges and the Nile are comparable for the minute provisions which an All-wise Being has made for the permanency of civilization which is possible in our midst.

If there is one essential lacking here, it is the fault of man, not nature. If there is aught to mar the beauty and grace of the social structure we are attempting to rear in this magnificent abode of man, the defect is human and not divine. There is plenty and to spare for all. The gaunt form of hunger should be unknown in our midst. Want and misery can only flourish where men themselves invite them in.

In theory we can even now contemplate the happy condition which will at some future day supplant strife and envy and hatred, when there will obtain social rest and civil equality which has been the dream of philosophers for ages. That we even now more nearly approximate these conditions than any other people under the sun is our firm belief. Law and the restraints of civilization may be evils, but they are necessary evils and the cry for "Personal Liberty" that is raised by those who come to us from Continental Europe and the Far East is a delusion and a snare.

Society is still based on the sacrifice of every personal desire which is not compatible with the public welfare; on the supremacy of the law; on the implicit obedience of every man and every interest to the exactions which experience has taught society to require of every man who enjoys the protection of the State.

The blue-coat on our city streets should be the symbol to every man and child of the tribulations which this nation has suffered that peace to the individual and protection to property might be enjoyed to the fullest extent. When we jeer and rail at the patrolman in the discharge of his worn duty we are amusing ourselves with a brief lapse into anarchy. When we fail to give our moral and even physical support to these men on all occasions, we are striking at a social structure reared with infinite pains and expenditure of treasure.

This modest volume, which is dedicated to the men who are the outward symbols of Law and Order, is a scant tribute to the importance of their work. It is their duty to preserve our complex social organism from physical violence. No more important duty rests on the citizen than to lighten their burden by a strict spirit of the law. The police departments of our municipalities do not create themselves. They are made necessary by the individual shortcomings of our citizenship. And if this little volume will help to arouse a genuine respect in the breasts of the men and women of Dayton for their blue-coated guardians its mission will have been fully accomplished.

The fireman dies to the cheers and echoes of thousands--and deservedly so. The soldier dies to the music of "Garry Owen" or the "Star spangled Banner"; a monument is erected to his memory--and justly so. The policeman dies to the dull thud of the assassin's bullet, alone and in the dark of night. Reader, remember he died for you.

Why is it that the policeman--hired and paid by the citizens of our cities to protect their lives, properties and families, and who risks his life every minute and hour of the day and night in a fight with a murderer, burglar, robber or madman; or in stopping runaway horses, rescuing people from drowning or from burning buildings--does not receive your help, your assistance, when he is engaged in a life and death fight with your enemy, and God knows it is seldom that the poor policeman asks for it.

The only answer that could be given is that the average American citizen has a false conception of liberty and freedom. He thinks because he is assessed to pay the policeman's salary that he is free to howl and kick if he so pleases. Since the day he kicked the English tea into Boston harbor down to our present time the average American is adverse to brass buttons, especially in the time of peace. There is a certain amount of rebellion--call it anarchy if you will--against constituted authority in the breasts of our people. They like to do what they please, and are nettled and displeased at those whose duties are to prevent them, which means, of course, the policemen. It is true that many people wish to violate the law and ordinances of our city, and do, whenever they get a chance. The policeman tries to prevent them from doing so, and only when necessary has them imprisoned, and though they pay him for doing his duty, they hate him for doing so.

Persons from ten years of age to the age of Methuselah are arrested by the policeman in the discharge if his sworn duty, and each and every one of them delights to see the policeman get the worst of it on certain occasions. Each and every one of them would like to "shy" a brick at him if they were sure of not being detected.

But the reader will say: "Surely the property man, the business man, does not violate the law or come in contact with the policeman?" He is the worst violator of the law. He runs his automobile over a child and then over the policeman who arrests him. He moves his abutment or bay window out on city property and then fails to put in fire escapes; puts skids across the walk and a thousand other things. The policeman stops him--he even stopped the late Marshall Field--and he was naturally sore. The lists of arrests for running without licenses in violation of the city ordinances and for many other reasons would surprise the reader were he acquainted with all the facts.

There being certain restrictions to the running of business, the policeman has to make many arrests for violation of the ordinances. When a policeman makes an arrest he knows his ground pretty well and the party arrested is generally fined. If the party arrested is even friendly with the police officer, the moment the fine is imposed and he draws out his roll to pay the fine, friendship ceases here and the party leaves the court feeling aggrieved at the officer.

This is a fact, strange to say--and the policeman only did what he is paid and sworn to do--his duty. But it seems, "touch a man's pocket and he hates you." If he does not hate, he certainly is not likely to love you nor like you.

But woman? Why is woman friendly? She seldom is arrested--she seldom deserves to be. She would prefer to starve sooner than have her father, husband, son or brother violate the law. She watches the policeman as he patrols around her house, and protects her while her lord and master is away.

Woman is grateful. She knows her friends. She knows who will come to her call or screams, and when she is in danger, whether attached by man or beast, that her defender, her friend in need, her protector--the policeman--is there to fight for her, to die for her, and never asks for a greater reward than to know that he did his duty and that by doing so her life was saved.

This is the policeman as he is usually found. He may be rough in appearance and action--some of them are. A few may even be as the reformers say they are, but they are few. Despite the rough appearance of some policemen and occasional rough actions, they are as a body the most tender-hearted men in the world. The average policeman digs into his pockets to help a lost or hungry child as a matter of course, although his own children and wife, living on his meager salary, can never be regarded as the pampered pets of fortune.

The men rich enough to build skyscrapers or luxurious homes never apply for places on the police force. No night of winter is too bitter or blistering heat of summer too intense to prevent the police from protecting your property.

They make orphans of their loved ones that yours may live. In all their varied lines of duty there is constant danger, and the Police Pension Fund seeks to build about the humble homes of these men in sort of breast-works to keep the gaunt wolf--poverty--from the door, when the husband and father--your protector--has fallen at the hands of the assassin.

Citizens of Dayton, get acquainted with your officer and learn to know him. If you do, you will find that he is all that is claimed for him--he is your big-hearted, faithful, courageous friend. Tell your friends to treat him "white." Ask your children to respect him. He asks no more and wants no less than that which every man is entitled to--A SQUARE DEAL."

Board of Trustees of the Police Pension Fund.

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