Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Scandal of 1922: Part I

Thanks to Bruce Hall's popular book Diamond Street, most of us are familiar with the story of how, in June 1950, Governor Thomas Dewey ordered a state police raid on Hudson to shut down the city's brothels and gambling dens.

The pursuit of the ubiquitous Officer Miller through the pages of old newspapers has led to the discovery of another earlier raid in Hudson, carried out by the state police in March 1922, in the first years of Prohibition. Booze was seized, its producers and sellers were arrested, and the chief of police, John Cruise, was suspended. 

When the roof fell in on his law enforcement career, Cruise had been chief for only four years and a few months. When he was promoted from sergeant to chief in December 1917, the Columbia Republican offered hearty congratulations and expressed confidence in his success: "Devolved upon you is the leadership of men who protect the lives and property of this old and historic city; men who preserve the peace and quiet of our municipality. The responsibilities resting on your shoulders are great, but we are confident that you will sustain them with dignity and alertness."

The testimonial of optimism and confidence in Cruise seems sadly misconceived in light of this headline, which appeared in the Columbia Republican on March 14, 1922.

The account, as it appeared in the Columbia Republican, of the raid and the takeover of the Hudson Police Department by the state police merits retelling. As you envision the events described, bear in mind that in 1922 the police department was headquartered at 327 Warren Street, in the building we now know as the Hudson Opera House. The police station was in the northeast corner of the building, where the offices of HOH staff are now located.
One of the biggest prohibition raids ever staged in Hudson Thursday night was followed by the suspension of Chief of Police John Cruise, Jr., and the placing of Lieut. H. J. Negell, of the State Police, in charge of the Hudson Police Department. Lieut. Negell took charge with a sergeant and four State troopers assisting him. No other changes were made in the personnel of the department.
The events taking place with such rapidity without the slightest warning came like a bomb-shell and hundreds of persons surrounded police headquarters from 9 o'clock until the early hours Friday morning.
It was between 8 and 9 o'clock that ten Federal prohibition inspectors and six members of the State Constabulary, as the result of arrangements entered into by the Commission of Public Safety, swooped down on Hudson. They were armed with about forty search warrants and operating with automobiles all ready for action they raced hither with their cars visiting countless places.
In a short time the cars began drawing up in front of headquarters.
The "booze" seized was placed in cars and taken to Albany. At headquarters the following appeared after the operations of the agents: Charles Curcio, Miss Ray Church, A. Feiler, Edward Dillon, Michael Fitzgerald, Benjamin Hagadorn, James Hogan, Theodore Brandow, Thomas McCue, and Henry Langlois.
It is understood that the intention of the agents is to have all persons accused summoned to appear before a United States Commissioner in New York city next Monday. . . .
The seized "wet goods" was taken to Albany after the raid, the agent saying "there was a whole lot."
The account of the raid and the suspension of Chief Cruise, including the statement of the Commissioners of Public Safety "relative to the suspension of Chief Cruise and the placing of a State Police officer in charge," will continue tomorrow.

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