enter name and hit return
OLD CHIEF CAMPBELL
Brooklyn Daily Standard Union
CONTRASTS POLICE CONDITIONS OF TODAY AND YESTERDAY
FORTY YEARS AGO HE WAS SHERIFF OF THIS COUNTY, AND FOR A QUARTER OF A CENTURY
WAS CHIEF OF POLICE OF BROOKLYN-HIS UNIQUE RECORD-TELLS OF SOME OF THE
REMARKABLE CASES WHICH CAUSED A GREAT SENSATION IN THE BOROUGH YEARS AGO.
In a kindly reminiscent mood Patrick CAMPBELL, who forty years ago was
Sheriff of this county and who for twenty-five years, with few interruptions,
was Chief of Police of Brooklyn, contrasted yesterday for The Standard Union
the police conditions of the long ago with those events in which he was an
official participant. He was born in Charleston, but has lived in Brooklyn
since his babyhood.
The memory of this genial, courteous old man runs back to generations dead
and gone, and of which to the people of to-day hardly an echo remains, for
Mr. Campbell now is in his eightieth year. Think of what that means to this
stirring, bustling, striving ambitious generation! He was born only five
years after Napoleon had given up the ghost at St. Helena; six years before
the great reform bill stirred all England; three years before Catholic
emancipation had been won; twenty-one years before the death of O'Connell,
probably the greatest political agitator the world has seen, and had just
reached manhood when the Mexican War broke out. He has outlived some of the
greatest of European wars and revolutions, and has seen the rise and fall of
kingdoms. Italian unity, the creation of the French Republic, the erection of
the German empire and the war for the preservation of the Union of the United
States, saw him in the prime of his manhood and seem to him now only as
events of yesterday as compared to the historic happenings through which he
had lived before all these epoch-making occurrences had come to pass. Of all
these things and the interest and excitement they had cause in their
inception and progress, Mr. Campbell spoke yesterday in a philosophic mood.
"It is singular," said he, "that the great historic events of which we read
now with such enthralling interest did not seem to be so very wonderful at
the time of their happening. To use a common illustration I suppose a man
rarely knows that he has been in a fight till it's all over."
Coming down to his own official relations with the civic life of Brooklyn,
Mr. Campbell said that one of the prime regrets of a very old man was to
reflect upon the youth and vigor that are no more and are either a memory of
the grave or a sad evidence of the inevitable inroads and ravages of Time.
"If I may speak in a personal sense, however," said he, "I should not
complain. Age treats me gently, and life has not been unkind to me." Mr.
Campbell was right. His eye is as bright and his brain as clear as when in
the good old days his headship of the men who protected the lives and
property of Brooklynites was a source of official pride for him. He is not so
alert, physically, of course, but all his faculties are sound and he is able
to enjoy the well earned ease of his retirement from official care and public
"How do the police of to-day compare with those of your time, Mr. Campbell?"
"I should not like to make any invidious distinctions, and you know that old
line which tells us that comparisons are odious, provincial and vulgar, but I
really do believe that advance in police work has not been commensurate with
the great progress made in other lines. Our police were just as good in those
days-I do not say any better-as they are to-day. You see, in my time, civil
service did not govern the force, and I fancy that the men paid rather more
attention to duty."
"Well, partly. You see, if a man wanted to get on the force he had to go to
the Commissioner Jourdan or Commissioner Briggs, or whatever Commissioner
happened for the time to be at the head of the Police Department, or send his
friends to them. Once on the force those responsible for getting him there
kept their eye upon his conduct, and if he fell he was called sharply to task
by them, as they wanted the men they had appointed to make a good record, so
that their future recommendations would receive consideration."
"Are you opposed to Civil Service for the force?"
"No; indeed I have given that subject hardly any consideration, but I do
think that Civil Service has not done as much for the force as its early
advocates had fondly anticipated."
"What do you think of the modern system of wholesale transfers by the Police
"That is a grave question. The proper government or rather management of a
police force in any of our great cities of to-day is a problem of great
magnitude. Without referring at all to whatever political bearings the
question may have, it is notorious that the head of the police force in the
great city to-day is hampered and restricted in his efforts to improve the
morale of the force where improvement is necessary-that his corrective power
is inadequate, and that dismissals for the most part end in reinstatement. I
am not in favor of giving extra legal or arbitrary powers to any man-that is
against the American spirit-but I do believe that the Commissioner should be
furnished with some better weapon than that of 'wholesale or retail'
transfers. But, I fear, I am going in rather heavy."
"Well, then, one of our humorous philosophers says that the patrolman of
to-day has much greater girth than one of your day. Has he?"
"Undoubtedly. Only yesterday I was downtown-about the Borough hall, my old
camping ground-and I noticed again as I have many times for years past, that
the police of to-day are remarkable for their rotundity. If we recall the old
joke almost every one of them is eligible to be an Alderman. Now the police
of my time were more lithe and active, I think; certainly they didn't have
such magnificent-such 'swell fronts.'"
"How do you like the new headgear of the police?"
Mr. Campbell laughed heartily.
"Changing times, changing fashions, I have read a great deal about those
military caps. Their originators may think them smarter and more
military-looking, but I believe that the man on post hankers after the good
old helmet. You see it really was a protection to an officer's head-a
protection from a falling or a flying brick, from the thug's blackjack, from
stones hurled in a riot. The present cap is no protection at all, and while
some say it is spick-and-span and ornamental, I think you will find the
average policeman will tell you that the helmet was far more
comfortable-better at a fire, too, and in the dead heat of summer, but the
police must obey-what then is the use of talking."
Mr. Campbell was Sheriff of Kings in 1867. In 1870 he was made chief of
"On and off," said he, "I was chief for twenty-five years. Once a law was
passed substituting the office of superintendent for that of chief. I was out
for two years and a half, and was then put back.
My most important cases? Ah!" continued Mr. Campbell with an expression of
that official relish characteristic of his palmy police days. "I recall the
Kate STODDARD case, the RUBENSTEIN case, the FUCH case-all murder cases. Ah,
so many! They made quite as much of a stir and filled as much space in the
papers as does the THAW case or the GILLETTE trial of to-day. That GOODRICH
case was a great one. Only the other day his brother, W. W. GOODRICH, died.
The former was murdered in his apartments in Sterling Place, I think, by a
woman named Kate STODDARD. She was a remarkable woman. She was attractive in
face, manner and figure, and was a fine musician. GOODRICH and she had been
intimate. Finally she realized that he was tiring of her. She went to his
apartments. While he was kneeling at an open grate she said:
"So you want to discard me, eh?"
"'Oh, that will do that,' said he.
"The woman repeated her words. GOODRICH did not reply. Nor did he ever again
say a word in this world. She shot him in the back of the head. As she made
no effort to escape we got her easily enough, but only to find our troubles
beginning. Nobody seemed to know her. Her past life seemed to me wrapped in
secrecy-enveloped in mystery so far as we were concerned. For three days I
kept her locked up without the papers knowing that I had her. I questioned
her time and again. At last one night she laughed in my face and confessed.
"'I did it; I killed him-shot him down as I would a dog. He was untrue,
false; yes, I killed him and I am glad of it." Naturally I was delighted at
this avowal, but she at once confounded me by saying: 'Foolish man, I told
you that to relieve my mind and to stop your questioning. It's true, but if
you swear to it before the coroner or any jury I shall swear that you lie.'"
"Well, I tried to get her to tell me where she had lived. In a cool, sneering
way, she persistently refused. Finally I subdivided each precinct into a
block or two and had a patrolman visit every house in the city. Immediately
there was a great hubbub. All Brooklyn protested, and did not approve until
my object had become publicly known. One of my men finally discovered that
the woman had boarded in a house in High street. In her trunks were found
incriminating evidence. When she was brought before Judge MOORE, she threw up
her hands and tragically exclaimed:
"'I don't want any of this; I want no lawyer, no trial.'
"A commission adjudged her insane and she was sent to an asylum. She may be
living yet, for all I know."
Mr. Campbell told how RUBENSTEIN, who lived in New York, had lured a girl to
a cornfield in New Lots, murdering her there. When the body was discovered it
was difficult to tell whether it was that of a white person or a negro. The
murderer was sentenced to death, but died in a cell."
"A peculiarly atrocious murder was that of FUCHS in Williamsburg," said Mr.
Campbell. "A friend, who had been living with him murdered him and cut up the
body. When we arrived at the house the murderer was eating his dinner and
boiling in a washboiler on the stove were pieces of his victim's body. The
details of that horrified Brooklyn." (Gross!)
"Probably my most singular case," concluded Mr. Campbell, "related to the
murder of a youth in South Brooklyn. We had been on the case a night and a
day. I was sitting in headquarters directing things and awaiting developments
when I happened to see a slip that had just come in, telling about the
rescuing from drowning of a man in the Gowanus, who had been taken to the
Long Island College Hospital.
"'That's the man! That's the man! That's the man,' I seemed to hear as
distinctly as if somebody and spoken. No; I didn't understand it then; I
don't understand it now. I had read, of course, about mental telepathy and
kindred subjects, or speculations, but whatever it was I am sure it was not
any ordinary mental process, any flash of insight or intuition, no phase of
associated ideas or anything of that sort that suggested any idea of
connecting the rescued man with the murder of the boy or of establishing the
identity of the one with that of the other. I need only say now that that was
the man, and that he suffered for his crime."
Such are some of the notorious cases which engaged the attention and
exercised the ingenuity of Chief of Police Campbell. Chief of Police no more,
this venerable old Southerner lives not only in memories, but in the interest
and so far as he may be reading and talking with friends in the activities of
the world to-day.
Transcribed by Mary Davis
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