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matters still clung to him, and it is well remembered how he went around at odd hours of the day and night, and on Sundays, seeing if the policemen were really doing their duty. There had been a boast that all policemen were at their posts at night. Mr. Roosevelt went out once and found just two out of an even dozen where they should be. Then began that “shaking up” that has resulted in better police service in New York to this day.
The effect of the new vigor in the police department was felt in
ways. There was a tenement-house law regarding buildings which were unfit for human habitations. New York City was crowded with such buildings, but nobody had ordered them torn down, because either nobody wanted to bother, or the owners paid blackmail money to keep them standing for the rent they could get out of them.
“Those tenements must come down," said Theodore Roosevelt.
“If you order them down, the owners will fight you to the bitter end,” said another officer of the department.
“I don't care if they do. The houses are
a menace to life and health. They are filthy, and if a fire ever started in them, some would prove regular traps. They have got to go.” And shortly after that about a hundred were seized, and the most destroyed.
The enforcement of the Sunday liquor law was another thing that occasioned great surprise during Mr. Roosevelt's term as Police Commissioner.
In the past, saloons had been almost as wide open on Sundays as on week days. On account of the cosmopolitan character of the population it was thought that to close up the saloons on Sundays would be impossible. But the police force was given strict orders, and on one Sunday in June, 1895, New York City had the first “dry” Sunday that it could remember in many years.
This “dry” Sunday provoked a new storm of opposition, especially from many of foreign birth, who were used to getting liquor as easily on that day as on any other. More threats were made against the vigorous commissioner, and on two occasions dynamite bombs were placed in his desk, evidently with the hope that they would explode and blow him to pieces. But the bombs
were found in time, and no damage was done, and Theodore Roosevelt paid scant attention to them.
After that he was attacked in a new way. Some of the politicians laid traps for him whereby they hoped to bring discredit to his management of the department. The fight grew very hot and very bitter, and he was accused of doing many things, “just for the looks of them,” rather than to benefit the public at large. But he kept on his way, and at last the opposition were silenced to such an extent that they merely growled behind his back.
For many years a large number of shiftless and often lawless men, and women too, were attracted to the metropolis because of the “Tramps' Lodging Houses” located there. These resorts were continually filled by vagrants who would not work and who were a constant menace to society at large.
“We must get rid of those lodging houses,” said Mr. Roosevelt. They simply breed crime. No respectable man or woman, no matter how
will enter them.” “But we'll have to have some sort of shelter for the poor people,” said others.
“ To be sure for those who are deserying. The others should be driven off and discouraged,” answered Mr. Roosevelt. And one by one the tramps' lodging places were abolished. In their place the Board of Charities opened a Municipal Lodging House, where those who were deserving were received, were made to bathe, and given proper shelter and nourishment.
A story is told that, during the excitement attending the closing of saloons on Sunday, a friend came to Mr. Roosevelt and told about hearing some saloon-keepers plotting 'to harm him.
“ What can they do?” demanded the Police Commissioner.
“I am afraid they can do a good deal,” was the answer. “ Each of those men has a barkeeper who has been in jail for various crimes. They may attack you some dark night and kill you."
“Perhaps I won't give them the chance,” answered the man who had been on many a dangerous hunt in the wild West. “If they can shoot, so can I.”
may sneak up behind you and knock you out,” insisted the visitor.
“ But they may