Frederic Franklyn Van de Water.

Grey riders : the story of the New York state troopers online

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partment turned instinctively when, early in
1921, it appeared for a time as though the dirty

Squadron, Forward! 363

fingers of politics, so long held back from the
department, were at length to reach out and
clutch it.

In February of that year, Major Chandler,
believing that the work of organization was
completed and that the department had ob-
tained a sufficiently firm footing to permit some
other hand to control it, handed in his resignation.
His reasons for this step were many. Chief
among them was the realization that while he
gave his time to police work, he must neglect
his earlier profession, surgery.

"I'm not a rich man," he told his friends.
"These are the best years of my life I'm living
now. I've got to think ahead."

"I feel," he wrote Governor Miller, "that I
must from now on devote my entire energy to
my profession, having been away from it a great
part of the time during the last five years on
border service, World War service, and State
police work. The department is, I believe, a
living human organization, well officered, uni-
formed and equipped, and with a definite and
tried policy. Therefore, I feel that I can now
leave the command with some degree of satis-

Captain Dutton was the logical man to sue-

364 Grey Riders

ceed him, yet in the interim that maintained
before, at the earnest pleading of Governor
Miller, Major Chandler withdrew his resignation,
a dozen other names were mentioned for the post.
None of them had the qualifications that were
Dutton's but all of them had political pull.
Earnest workers for the party, Guard officers,
and others with even less claim for consideration,
flocked to Albany and volunteered persistently
to take the command.

The real peril that hung over the organization
was averted by the withdrawal of the resignation
of the Superintendent, but to those who knew
and loved the State Troopers the great weakness
of the system which was also its great strength
was made manifest once more. To be what it
was; to do the work it was accomplishing; the
organization had necessarily to be under the
command of one man and responsible to him
only. That is the chief strength of the service.
The flaw in that strength lies in the fact that a
change of command under such a system may
wreck the entire department. It is also gloomily
significant that when the crisis came, almost
anyone was spoken of as fitted for the post save
the man who alone was qualified to be Major
Chandler's successor.

Squadron, Forward ! 365

In the four years of their existence, the
troopers have proved themselves to be too
valuable to the people of New York and their
government to have their future efficiency risked
by a "political move."

Year by year their work has broadened and
intensified. On the foundation of law enforce-
ment in the rural districts of the State, they have
erected a superstructure of service to which each
year has added strength.

They cooperate with practically every State
department in its work. They are protecting
highways against the destruction caused by
overloaded trucks; they are enforcing quaran-
tines established by the Health Department ; they
have taken over at least half of the work of game
law enforcement hitherto carried on solely by
wardens ; they are working with the Department
of Education in seeing that children get to school
regularly and remain there during the years the
State has a claim on them; they are investigat-
ing cases of destitution for the Department of
Charities ; they have carried on warfare against
sheep-killing dogs, at the behest of the Depart-
ment of Agriculture.

Those are only citations at random. In addi-
tion the service, over and above law enforcement,

366 Grey Riders

that they render to the people of the countryside
is almost limitless in its scope. Beyond these
considerations, they have demonstrated that
they are able to cope with whatever disorder
may arise within the borders of the common-
wealth. There will never be a Mingo in New
York while the troopers ride patrol, for the
simple reason that when they take charge of a
situation they permit neither party in the con-
flict, whatever its influence, to violate the law.

This squadron of grey horsemen, not yet five
years old, stands to-day at the peak of all police
forces in the Western World. They are more
than policemen. They are the link that joins
the man in olive drab to his cousin in brass and
blue. In them, the profession of soldier and
peace officer, split up nearly two centuries ago,
is once more joined. In them is this reunion
and something more. That something is the
gospel of police work evolved and preached so
zealously by Major George F. Chandler a
gospel that ranks service and courtesy and friend-
liness only a little lower than law enforcement;
that is evolving the first really democratic police
organization to come into being in America.

On a basis of strict military discipline, Major
Chandler, Captain Dutton, and the troop officers


Looking Over a Hunter's Bag


Arresting Poachers

Squadron, Forward!

have built up a service that has striven frankly
and most earnestly to purchase popularity, tend-
ing in exchange only legitimate coin. Fairness,
courtesy, tact, generosity, courage, and gentle-
ness these have been rendered by New York's
troopers for the place they hold to-day in the
hearts of New York's people.

That ideal has not been followed perfectly.
No ideal ever is. Yet in spite of human nature,
which stands between them and perfection, the
New York State Troopers are more nearly what
police officers of freemen should be than anything
hitherto evolved in America. They have made
themselves the servants and aids of the people,
rather than armed men set in authority over

There has been no touch of magic in this ac-
complishment. It has been brought about on
the part of the men by hard work, infinite
patience, fairness, and friendliness in the face of
early rebuffs. To this has been added the com-
mander's knowledge of human nature and or-
ganizing ability, together with, perhaps, a poetic
love of perfection. Few men who sow may see
their seed spring to such splendid fruition.

The men who have figured as the heroes of the
tales, recounted earlier in this volume, are not

368 Grey Riders

supermen. Except for their training and a cer-
tain physical excellence bred by the nature of
their work, they are counterparts of eight out of
every dozen young men of America.

The stories of their achievements are faithful
reporting, save that here and there the name of
a wrongdoer, since reformed, has been changed.
The tales may be found in briefer, more cut-and-
dried form in the records of the various troop
headquarters from which many of them have
been chosen, almost at random. Others have
been gathered during the long miles of patrol
when the man with whom you ride forgets for
the time that his companion wears the grey of
the service only temporarily. In the main, they
are typical. To gain a clear idea of the ac-
complishments of the New York State Troopers,
you may safely multiply most of them by one
hundred. If the grey riders are pictured herein
as super-policemen, it is the fault of the service
rather than of the writer.

Place any man in uniform, and immediately
you multiply his power over his fellows in civilian
garb by ten. Teach him that courage is the
quality his organization values most highly and
failure the one thing it cannot brook; support
this doctrine by frequent references to the tradi-

Squadron, Forward! 369

tion and the ideals lying behind the service, and
in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred you evolve
a soldier or policeman almost as invincible as

It is training of this sort that helped the United
States Marines to whip the Prussian Guard ; that
enabled a sergeant of the old Northwest Mounted
to ride into an Indian village and, after kicking
the mutinous chief to his feet, chase the whole
tribe back onto the reservation. It was the
uniform, the training, the tradition, and the ideal
that gave ninety men at Rome, N. Y., the pow r er
to break and scatter an armed mob of eight

A police force, bred and reared as the troopers
have been, is an extremely difficult organization
for anybody to whip.

Long since, the men of the service made the
people of New York State their allies. To-day
their gospel, which has converted the Empire
State, is being spread in other commonwealths.
There was the gap of a decade between the or-
ganization of Pennsylvania's force and the
creation of the troopers. To-day, New Jersey,
Massachusetts, West Virginia, Maryland, and
Michigan all have forces in the field; each
modeled in part at least upon New York's


37 Grey Riders

squadron. Other States are making ready to
follow Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Delaware, Vir-
ginia, Georgia.

The lesson that New York's horsemen teach
is taking hold. Within the next decade it will
inevitably gather more force. The altered con-
ditions of life in America to-day make the forma-
tion of such organizations imperative. The
record created by the New York State Troopers
makes clear what such organizations should and
can be.

The movement is spreading and will spread
until it eventually envelops the entire nation.
It is not an altogether fantastic hazard that
eventually the peace of the world will be kept
inviolable by an International Police tracing its
descent from the handful of men in grey who
gathered on the Manlius meadow in the time of
the Great War.




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Online LibraryFrederic Franklyn Van de WaterGrey riders : the story of the New York state troopers → online text (page 18 of 18)