National Affairs: Society v. Kidnappers

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A few hours before, Attorney General Cummings had conferred with President Roosevelt on setting up a Federal crime-fighting police staff, similar to the "National Scotland Yard" advocated by Col. Louis McHenry Howe in the Satevepost last week. The Roosevelt-Cummings plan, as announced in the Press last week, called for 1) expansion of the Justice Department's Bureau of Investigation into a Division, staffed with expert criminologists and lawyers to cooperate with the states in tracking down kidnappers and racketeers. 2) The organization of a mobile detachment under Special Assistant Keenan to concentrate on kidnapping cases. 3) Legislation to stop the sale of firearms to gangsters and criminals. 4) Legislation asking the states to surrender their authority in cases of kidnapping, thus leaving Federal agents free to ignore state lines. 5) The absorption of the Prohibition Bureau by the new Division of Investigation. To direct the new division he selected 39-year-old John Edgar Hoover, chief of the present Bureau of Investigation. Capable, efficient, he succeeded the late great William John Burns as director of the Bureau of Investigation in 1924. A firm believer in fingerprints, he expanded the U. S. identification and crime statistics systems, which now contain nearly 4,000,000 records of criminals and Federal civil service employes. His assistants must be college graduates and lawyers, must go through a special training course in crime detection. A shrewd and able criminologist, Detective Hoover is gentlemanly, reticent, hardworking.

States, too, were last week joining the anti-kidnap war. California passed a bill fixing the death penalty or life imprisonment for kidnappers who harm their victims.* In Albany, Governor Lehman urged New York's Legislature to make kidnapping punishable by death unless the victim is returned before trial; to make it a felony to pay ransom or withhold information about a kidnapping case.

The anti-crime drive last week took on an international angle when police officials from Europe and the U. S. created an International World Police. Gathered at Chicago's Stevens Hotel, they agreed to set up clearing houses for criminal information at Washington and at Vienna, Austria, and to cooperate in preventing international rackets. Also convened in Chicago was the World Association of Detectives whose members agreed upon one thing: "Hang all convicted kidnappers!"

¶In Milwaukee, Roger Touhy and three other members of Chicago's "Terrible Touhy" gang, were charged with the kidnapping of William Hamm Jr., St. Paul brewer. Arrested at Elkhorn, Wis. fortnight ago, they were first thought to have engineered the snatching of John ("Jake the Barber") Factor, but Factor refused to identify them.

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