Monday, July 27, 2015

Officer Miller: A New Phase in His Career

When Officer Miller had been on the police force for almost a decade, the nature of his work, judging from the newspaper accounts, changed. With the advent of Prohibition in 1920, Officer Miller made fewer arrests for public drunkenness. Of course, Prohibition didn't eliminate drinking in Hudson. It just put breweries out of business and forced people to do their drinking behind closed doors. And it didn't keep Officer Miller from having to deal with inebriated people, either.

At midnight on a Sunday in October 1922, Officer Miller had to rescue four seamen who nearly drowned when the rowboat they boarded to carry them back to their ship--a Standard Oil tanker, "which had been discharging a cargo of oil here"--capsized. The Columbia Republican for October 3, 1922, reported that the sailors were returning to their ship from a "hootch party."  

In the brave new world of policing at the end of the 1910s and 1920s, Officer Miller became a motorcycle cop. Unfortunately, the first incident reported involving Officer Miller and his motorcycle, which appeared in the Columbia Republican for July 8, 1919, tells how he was injured when he fell off his motorcycle. Officer Miller, on his motorcycle, gave chase when he saw four strangers--motorcyclists from New York City--speeding up Warren Street and not keeping to the right. Officer Miller's bike overturned when he was making a right turn from Warren Street into Worth Avenue, and Officer Miller, barely missing hitting his head on a stone wall, suffered "a broken wrist, a cracked rib and other painful but not serious injuries." The miscreant motorcyclists escaped, heading south. The Hudson police chief notified the Poughkeepsie police, and the four were arrested as soon as they reached at the city limits of Poughkeepsie.

In 1922, Officer Miller redeemed his reputation as a motorcyclist a bit when the Hudson police got word that a car stolen in Poughkeepsie was heading their way. Officer Miller and Officer Raynor "were sent uptown to be on the lookout." In this account from the Hudson Evening Register for April 18, 1922, the subject of the first sentence is Officer Miller.

Thank goodness Hudson police officers have given up the practice of shooting at the tires of fleeing cars! The Hudson police failed to stop it, but the car--a big Hudson speedster--was recovered the next day, "stripped of its plates and other equipment" and deserted in Stuyvesant Falls. 

In the 1920s, Officer Miller seemed to spend much of his time being a traffic cop. Newspaper articles regularly reported his arrests for various minor traffic violations. More than once it is reported that he arrested drivers--one of them a woman from Greenport--for driving past a trolley car discharging passengers. But the best story of an arrest by Officer Miller for a vehicular violation is this one, which appeared in the Columbia Republican on July 18, 1922. 

Newspapers of first half of the 20th century rarely included pictures, so no picture of Officer Frank Miller has yet been discovered. It's nice to think, though, that Officer Miller is one of the policemen astride motorcycles in this photograph.


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