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LOCAL OFFICIALS SHOULD ENFORCE DRY LAW
Prohibition Enforcement Is a Duty of Municipal and County Authorities; Local Officials Have Tremendous Advantage Because They Can Exercise Constant Supervision and Act Promptly Against Violators; Local Officers and Local Courts Are Much More Numerous Than Federal Officers and Federal Courts; This Means More Thorough Enforcement Work and Quicker Action Against Law Violators; Distinguished Enforcement Authorities Point Out Advantages of Local Enforcement Work; Illinois Prohibition Act Makes Enforcement Duty of Local Officials By many, prohibition is considered chiefly a problem of the federal government and the success of enforcement is too frequently measured on the basis of federal oper ations against liquor law breakers. Newspaper discussions of prohibition refer almost exclusively to the federal phase of the enforcement problem. News articles and edi torials deal with rum running, international and interstate beer smuggling, and other activities of the prohibition officials under the government of the United States. This constant reference to federal enforcement has a tendency to make even firm friends of prohibition lose sight of the importance of local enforcement work. Because of the vital importance of counteracting the tendency to rely on the federal govern ment alone, the following statements relative to local enforcement powers and duties are presented herewith: WILLIAM E. DEVER Mayor of Chicago A great literature is being written these days on the nearly frazzled theme, “Whose fault is it?" or “Whose duty is it to en force the Eighteenth Amendment?” From reports and casual observation of condi tions it is apparent that many in the pub lic eye have joined in a revival of the old fashioned yet popular game of "passing the buck." And yet, when all the line and cry has died down and the shouting is over, we find the answer, always evident and al ways the same; namely, it is the duty of every law-enforcing officer in the coun try, from the President of the United States down to the lowliest constable, to enforce rigidly every law—federal, state, and county, on the statute books. The day is almost past when one can excuse his failure in duty by pointing to some other person’s dereliction. Today some in high places arc spending their time orying, “I can’t because he doesn’t," “Look at him; he isn’t." The public soon will demand of each of those officials, as it should, “What are you doing to fulfill your oath?" THOS. WILLIAMSON United States Attorney. Southern District of Illinois From observation in this district, it is beyond question that counties and munici palities can enforce the liquor laws. It needs but the determined will to do and the co-operation of those upon whom the responsibility of enforcement lies. Provision for enforcement in the coun ties lies substantially with the Board of Supervisors and enforcement officers. In municipalities, upon the Village Board or City Council and police officers. In some counties in this district more than twenty thousand dollars in fines has been assessed in this court at one term for violations in such county. Would it not be far better for the taxpayers and for the reputation of the county if this enforce ment was conducted in the county, and the fines converted into the county treas ury; and is it not more profitable and bet ter for the municipality to have its own enforcement with the result and benefit of the fines collected? In the matter of injunction, there are some counties in which federal injunc tions to the number of fifty, sixty and more have been issued, closing premises in such county, and during the same time, not one injunction issued by local courts. It is very evident that this con dition cannot continue, as the result is that the federal court is overburdened with work that ought to be, at Jeast to a substantial extent, conducted in the state £OUlU» PRESIDENT COOLIDGE The governmental policy of local ac tion with reference to prohibition was re cently discussed by President Coolidge, whose opinion is quoted by James O’Don nell Bennett, a Washington correspond ent, as follows: “The President believes that the local policeman, upon whom he looks with all a small-town New Englander's respect, is the hope of the hamlet and the town that wants to be dry. And hence the hope of those who want the nation to be dry. With his usual practicality and plain speaking the President points out what he considers an obvious fact—namely, that unless municipal authorities in city, town, and state arc enforcing, then nation-wide enforcement cannot be nearly as good as it should be. “The former mayor of Northampton, Mass., is irked by a disposition of many well - wishers of enforcement to ‘let George do it’ — their George being the federal government. “Prevention of small sales of liquor in localities, lie thinks, is distinctly local work, but he grants that it is quite as dis tinctly the duty of the federal govern ment to prevent smuggling and supervise withdrawals of liquor.” MABEL WALKER WILLEBRANT Assistant U. S. Attorney General The roots of all good government lie in the community, and prohibition will never be satisfactorily enforced by the Federal Government alone. Its judicial equipment for punishing violations is too meager, and the laws which United States judges must enforce in addition to the Prohibition Act are too many. Federal courts are staggering under the tremendous volume of business that had been added by the Eighteenth Amend ment. Since it became effective they have disposed of 102,684 prohibition cases. United States attorneys are now obtain ing convictions under the National Pro hibition Act at the rate of about 4,000 per month, but over 75 per cent of them are local in character. That means that the police courts, county courts, or the state courts should prosecute and punish the offenders. . . . . . . You have no right to say that pro hibition is a failure if your own police wink at its disregard. You have no right to complain that the federal government docs not punish offenders quickly enough, nor have you a right to indulge in the complaint that it CAN NOT be enforced, if your police courts are failing to jail the offenders in your own community. Be cause that duty is theirs, and there are enough decent people in every county and city, if they will get together, to make of ficials do. their duty. EDWIN A. OLSON U. S. District Attorney, Northern District of Illinois It is the duty of local officials to en force the law. The mayor, the police, the sheriff, the state’s attorney, the state courts, have the power and it is their duty to enforce prohibition. Last year we padlocked 1,500 booze joints, and not one of these cases should have come into the federal court. Every one of these injunction proceedings should have been held in the state courts. In Illinois there are only 57 prohibition agents as compared to from fourteen to fifteen thousand local enforcement offi cials in the state. In Chicago one of the three federal judges is assigned to prohi bition cases. The other two judges in this district have their time completely taken with other cases. At the same time there arc from 80 to 90 judges in the state courts in Cook county who could be and should be doing the work that now comes almost entirely into the court of one federal judge. The enforcement problem will never be solved until local citizens become inter ested and local officials do their duty. C. W. VURSELL Chief of Federal Field Prohibition Agents in Illinois I have no patience with officials who refuse to do their duty after they have sworn to uphold the laws, or with judges who neglect their sworn duty relative to criminals who have been proven guilty. It was not intended by the law that our department should make raids, but to in vestigate. On account of the neglect of duty on the part of count officials, how ever, we have been compelled to do that work. With only 55 men scattered through the state, we have made 2,200 arrests this year and have closed 1.400 places. We have brought in $300,000 in fines. This is work which the county officials should have done. JOSEPH H. COLLIER Attorney for the Anti-Saloon League of Illinois Law enforcement is primarily the prob lem of the local community. The local officers can either make or break en forcement. They can cither stand in the way of prosecutions and protect offend ers, or they can ferret out violators and punish so severely that violations will be reduced to the minimum. We frequently hear the remark: “Pro hibition is now in the United States Con stitution. Let the federal government en- ' force it." The federal government has ap proximately 1,600 men to cover the whole country in its direct prohibition enforce ment work. At this writing about seven ty of these men are assigned to Illinois. Many Illinois counties have as many or more peace officers such as sheriffs, dep uty sheriffs, constables, marshals, and po lice in cities, charged under the law with prohibition enforcement duties. More over, the local officers are on the field constantly, they know conditions, they are sworn to enforce the state law and are paid to enforce it. Patriotic citizens should press home on these peace officers their duties. THE LAW OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS Section 26 of the “Illinois Prohibition Act” provides: “It shall be the duty of the State’s At torney of every county diligently to prosecute any and all persons violating the provisions of this act, in this county, and he shall be responsible for the proper enforcement of this act, and whenever he shall have any information or knowledge, or have any reason to believe that any of the provisions of this act are being vio lated in his county, he shall use every le gitimate means at his command to secure the necessary and proper evidence of such violation, and immediately upon securing such evidence he shall file a complaint or cause a complaint to be filed against any person against whom he shall have any evidence of any such violation, and he shall have said complaints on said charges to final judgment. “In case the existence of any place where intoxicating liquors are manufac tured, sold, kept or bartered, in violation of law' is disclosed in any criminal pro ceedings, it shall be the duty of the State’s Attorney to proceed promptly to enforce the provisions of this act against such place as a nuisance. . . . “It shall be the duty of all County Boards of Commissioners of Cook county to lend every possible assistance to the State’s Attorney, sheriff and other offi cials in the enforcement of this act.” Section 42 of the law provides: “It shall be the duty of all municipal, county and state officials to co-operate in the enforcement of this act. “If any sheriff, deputy sheriff, chief of police, marshal, policeman, constable or other peace officer shall have knowledge, information or suspicion of any violation of any provision of this act, he shall dili gently investigate and secure evidence of the same and shall, before the proper of ficer, make and sign complaint against the offending person, anything in the ordi nance or by-laws of any municipality, to the contrary notwithstanding.” To summarize: All peace officers in the county (including such officers elected by the municipalities, viz.: sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, marshals, constables, chiefs of police and policemen), are charged w'ith the duty of acting on knowledge or sus picion of law violations, and must try to ferret out the violators, secure evidence if possible and set the machinery into mo tion to punish the offenders. A SAFE PREDICTION (Hoopeston Chronicle Herald) The Chicago Tribune, leading advocate of nullification of dry laws, is out editorially for the re peal of the search and seizure fea ture of the state enforcement act. It is safe to predict that there will be no change in the law for the self-evident reason that The Trib une loses all its battles. The aver age voter usually tries to ascertain just what the W. G. N. stands for and at once gets busy in opposi tion. The dry laws of Illinois are immune to Tribune attacks.