Monday, September 29, 2008

Rascality in NJ (1906) submitted by Dr. Fishmonger

From “Bleeker’s Quarterly Magazine of Modern Police Procedure” Summer 1906.

A new system of criminal classification in use in the Garden State

It was my pleasure recently to accept an assignment from the editor of this journal that took me to city headquarters of Trenton New Jersey. It was in that place that I was introduced to a most unique recent modernity. I shall quote at length the words of Chief Warren Monk.
“This new century has brought many fresh challenges to the maintenance of civic authority. The need to classify the various types of threat to the civic order with speed and reliability has risen to paramount importance. It is for this reason that we in the city of Trenton have adopted the New Adjusted Constabulary Scale of Rascality. This scale, devised by experts at Princeton, allows the police department to determine the amount and type of manpower devoted to the pursuit, investigation and apprehension of a particular offender.
“The scale has four basic levels ranging from mere profligates to the most heinous villains.
“Villains are the very worst of social threats being persons for whom damage to the civil system is a goal in and of itself. In this category we find our archfiends, monsters, traitors and calculating criminal masterminds. It is to these people we are obliged to devote our most stringent efforts and they are number four on the scale. This category also covers fiendish rogues and allow me to digress here to point out that there is no such thing as a roguish fiend contrary to the claims of mister Clarence Wayne.”
Regular readers of this journal will be familiar with the doings of Clarence Wayne, a reprobate who characterized himself as a “roguish fiend” when he was, in fact no such thing. I am led to understand that it was partially this claim on his part that contributed to the creation of the NACSR. Nonetheless, Mister Wayne is still a current resident of the New Jersey state penitentiary. But enough about him for I must return the reader to the narrative of Chief Monk.
“Under heading number three we find rapscallions, a group that includes murderous (but not fiendish) rogues, miscreants, delinquents, dastards, scoundrels, blackguards, thugs and those more normal types of fiends who do not quite qualify as archfiends.
“The second degree on the chart is devoted to rascals who include cads, mountebanks, grifters, swindlers, hornswoglers, reprobates (and it is here that the redoubtable Mister Wayne is properly included), larcenous (but not murderous) rogues, subversives, troublemakers, brutes, hooligans and all manor of scamps and scalawags. Persons found it this group account for the greater number of arrests in the city.
“In group number one, we find those persons who generally do not violate the letter of the law, but are still worthy of being considered a threat to the general welfare and bear watching. These are profligates. This group includes libertines, Sabbath-breakers, socialists, maledictors, squanderers, wastrels, apostates, freethinkers, scoffers, mockers of tradition, poltroons and prevaricators, card sharps, intellectuals, blasphemers, nonconformists, former Confederates and their confederates, ‘Ragtimers’, ‘vipers’, ne’er-do-wells, ‘smooth operators’ of all sorts, Jews, Orientals and foreigners of all stripe and, it almost goes without saying, negroes. It is of great benefit to society that these persons of dubious intent be monitored closely.”
To say that I found Chief Monk’s explanation compelling and enlightening would be to grossly understate the case. Indeed, I should dare hold out hope that the New Adjusted Constabulary Scale of Rascality will become the standard used in police precincts throughout this great nation leading to a higher quality of law enforcement in our cities.

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