New York Times


Of course, the Aldermen found by natural instinct, and used by invariable custom, all the bad arguments, and only the bad arguments, for not giving Commissioner BINGHAM his secret service fund. Several of them, indeed, talked in a way to justify a slight suspicion that their real objection to the plan was fear of its possible efficiency. One can therefore be, as usual, properly indignant with the board for it characteristic denial of a worthy official’s well-intentioned request, but, after the proper indignation has been felt and expressed, one recalls that there are several fair to good arguments against the establishment of a secret police. The chief argument comes from Washington, where suspected abuses in the Federal Secret Service have just prompted Attorney General BONAPARTE to ask for a regular detective force for the Department of Justice to displace sleuths who are paid "by the job."

Mr. BONAPARTE said to the House Committee on Appropriations last week:

If you pay a detective by the job and make his continued employment dependent upon his finding more jobs, you run into the danger of making him what they call abroad an "agent provocateur," a person who creates the crime in order that he may get the credit of detecting and punishing the criminal. I do not want you to understand me as saying that the secret service men do that at all, but I do say, if you will put a definite force in charge of this work you will avoid some of the very evils to which you have referred.

But not all evils — at least no in this city. Here a secret service force could do valuable work in cases where the regular detectives are well known to special classes of criminals, especially to Anarchists and "Black Hand" groups. Besides, the knowledge that the Commissioner had at his disposal detectives outside the department could not fail to exert a strong deterrent influence upon the notorious police "system." At present certain forms of crime are rampant and menace the community. By strictly limiting the activities of a small secret service to special cases, with and adequate system of checks, it would seem that the objections to the plan might be met and the city benefited.


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