The Strong Arm Squad A Terror To The Gangs

There is so much good stuff in this article.

Rhinelander Waldo has appeared in a couple articles previously, as the city’s Fire Chief. But he just got promoted to Police Chief, and as one of his first actions he created a brute squad! But the first rule of the brute squad is that you don’t talk about the brute squad.

…Commissioner Waldo was only in office a short time when he organized what is officially known at Headquarters as “The Special Squad.” The unofficial title — “The Strong-Arm Squad” — is far more descriptive.

This squad is made up of twenty huskies whose sole duty it is to travel about the city and hand out generous doses of strong-arm medicine to any and all who show unmistakable signs of being in need of it.

Now it is perhaps best to say at this point that there is no official order on file at Police Headquarters directing the men of The Special Squad to administer strong-arm medicine.

Inquire at the Commissioner’s office, and you will be told that The Special Squad has been organized for the prevention of crime, to break up gangs, to disperse corner loafers, to suppress ferry-boat hoodlums, and discourage car rowdies. All of these much-needed reforms, you will learn at the Commissioner’s office, are to be accomplished by arrests.

But The Special Squad knows the prescription that Commissioner Waldo believes in. They make the arrests all right, but at the same time they administer a strong dose of their particular brand of medicine.

Check out that gallery of brutes. Ajax Whitman looks like he came straight from the circus. John D. O’Connor is described as a man who “pursues un-draped bathers.” And I think Joseph McLaughlin and Nathan Whitman are wearing the exact same clothes. And M.B. Conlon’s caption calls him “The Strong Arm Dude.”

At the bottom is George “Boots” Trojan. When he retired from the force in 1922, the Times article about his 29-year career explained the origin of his nickname:

Trojan, who won his police reputation by his success in combating the gangs that infested certain sections of New York City a quarter of a century ago, obtained his nickname by the method he used in subduing a particularly tough gang of negroes who used to congregate in Eighth Avenue in the territory of the West Thirty-seventh Street Station. Trojan used the toes of his boots with good effect on the negroes’ shins, and they dubbed him “Boots” Trojan. The soubriquet remained, although with the times Trojan changed his methods.

Ah, good old fashioned police violence.

THE STRONG ARM SQUAD A TERROR TO THE GANGS: The Rowdies Who Make Trouble Get a Dose of Their Own Medicine. Waldo’s Detachment of Suppressors of Disorder Is a New Plan. (PDF)

From August 13, 1911

One response to “The Strong Arm Squad A Terror To The Gangs”

  1. The commander of the squad, Lt. Charles Becker, was later tried, convicted and executed for orchestrating the murder of gambler Herman Rosenthal in 1912.


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