Letter Enforcement Of The Law, With Penalties At Maximum And No Discrimination,
Is His Formula
Lax Law Is Like Mouse Trap That Is Not Set for Action
Corporal Tidd is the representative of a great organization for law enforcement.
He is modest about it and has no gory details to offer-so he says, but these
few gems of police wisdom reveal the mature experience which could only come
to a group who had learned to know their criminals:
"A lax law is like a mouse trap that isn't set. It may be a good enough mouse
trap but it will never be of any use until it can catch mice.
"Letter enforcement of a given law with penalties fixed at the maximum and
no discrimination in the application of it are the constituents of a thorough
Mathematically speaking, the degree of ease with which a law can be enforced
is directly proportional to the opportunities the miscreant has for evading
In other words, if every policeman in Lancaster knew by his first name, every
man in Lancaster and knew just where every one of these men might be found
at a given season of the year, law enforcement would not be very difficult.
Or if law violators had no better way of putting ground between themselves
and the clutches of justice than a pair of snow shoes or a dog team and nothing
better to hide behind than a snow bank, prohibition would not be a hard nut
This is the analysis of the Canadian Northwest Mounted Police.
In a brief interview Corporal Claude B. Tidd, for more that nineteen years
one of the red-coated ambassadors of justice on the rim of the world, the Arctic
Circle, tried to grasp the situation confronting local, state, and national
authorities in meeting the problems of prohibition and transplant it into the
region with which he is familiar.
Corporal Tidd who with his wife is visiting at the home of the latter's parents
at 840 East Orange street [sic], this city, is now enjoying his first visit
to the United States . He stated that at his station at Ross River , in the
far north, news reaches him but seldom. The only newspapers arriving there
are brought through the courtesy of friends and can never be expected more
than twice a year. For this reason he is not, he said, well versed with the
problems law enforcement agents meet here. When told of some of the methods
of operation and manners in which the aim of the law is defeated by violators
of the prohibition amendment he was openly surprised. Terms such as "hi-jacker," "runner," "bootlegger," "moonshiner," "speakeasy" and
similar word which have come into every day use in our language since 1919
needed defining in some cases and in others to be distinguished from one another.
In attempting to transplant the problems of law enforcement into the far north
the Corporal said: "It is as though you were taking the problems of one planet
to another orb. There can not possibly be any comparison between the United
States and its dense population and the desolate reaches of the country in
which I live and work."
He pointed out that the people with whom he deals are widely scattered over
a territory almost too large to be grasped by the imagination. "Why," he said, "All
of the people in the entire territory I patrol could be placed in a little
corner of Lancaster and the increase would hardly be noticed. I know practically
every man between Yukon and the border of British Columbia ."
These people, he said, the majority of them Indians, are a settled, law abiding
people. From the very nature of the environment in which they live they are
extremely congenial. The visits from the red-coat are looked forward to and
he is regarded not as a bullying policeman prying into peoples' affairs but
as a welcome guest and a close friend of all of them. "Up north," Tidd said, "We
do not see people often and when we do we feel mighty glad to see them and
friendly toward them." Tidd represents the government of Canada in his lone
post and in the vacant miles around it and the residents feel that a violation
of a law is not merely breaking the prescriptions of a statute but a wrong
to a close friends [sic]. For this reason he is seldom asked to make an arrest
or to go on a man hunt.
Prohibition and other social laws he said would not be hard to enforce in
the far north because he people in the first place respect the laws to a greater
degree than they do here. They are not numerous and are not hard to find, hence
their chances of evading detection are less. They do not have the aid of high
powered motor cars, good roads and other facilities that make the law breaker's
escape from the scene of his activities so easy.
Long ago in Canada , when the Northwest Canadian Mounted Police gained their
reputation, it was in all probability a hard country. The officers met with
the most adverse conditions under which to work. Extreme climatic rigors combined
with the offender to make good his escape. These first red-coated minions of
the law forced a hard justice hom [sic] upon the offender and have left a stamp
on the entire territory. Letter enforcement of a given law, with penalties
fixed at the maximum and no discrimination in the application of it are the
constituents of a thorough enforcement. A lax law, Tidd pointed out, is like
a mouse trap that isn't set. It may be a good enough trap all right but it
will never be of any use unless it is used to catch mice.
He pointed out that the duties of the Canadian Northwest Mounted Police have
come to be crime-prevention in nature rather than crime-detection.