Our Police Protectors
History of New York Police
Chapter 23, Part 2

By Holice and Debbie

 

The instruction given by the Society as intended to do no more then qualify the pupil to adopt such remedial measures as may be advantageous pending the doctor's arrival, and to afford some knowledge of nursing and the laws of health. It teaches what is to be done in emergencies, when there are no proper appliances at hand.

Some of the earliest efforts of the originators of the "First Aid" movement were directed to the establishment of a course of instruction for the Police, but the large number of men on the force, the short time allowed them for recreation and other causes, rendered this a difficult matter. In the spring of 1883, however, two classes were formed, and during the ensuing fall the Society suggested to the Board of Police Commissioners, the advisability of making "First Aid" a part of the training which candidates for the Police force are required to undergo before being admitted as members. The suggestion was favorably received and adopted. The Society thereupon provided the necessary lectures

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And appliances, and lectures were commenced on the twelfth of February. Classes were at once organized, and, as a rule, the men have acquitted themselves creditably, two-thirds passing the examination. Many a case of accident--that, for instance, of persons run over in the streets, or injured by a fall--would probably have resulted fatally but for the knowledge so gained by the Police, who, while awaiting the arrival of the Ambulance Surgeon, are enabled to afford temporary relief to the sufferer. In some cases, owing no doubt to unavoidable or accidental causes, the ambulances are not over prompt in responding to a call, and the attendance of the Policeman on post is therefore all the more valuable.

The Ambulance Districts are as follows:

NEW YORK HOSPITAL DISTRICT: Sixth, Sixteenth and Twenty-ninth Precincts.

CHAMBERS STREET HOSPITAL DISTRICT: First, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, Tenth, Twenty-sixth, and Twenty-seventh Precincts.

BELLEVUE HOSPITAL DISTRICT: Eleventh, Thirteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Nineteenth, Nineteenth Sub, Twenty-first, Twenty-fourth, and Twenty-fifth Precincts; also, First, Second, Third and Fourth District Courts.

ST. VINCENT'S HOSPITAL DISTRICT: Eighth, Ninth, fourteenth and Fifteenth Precincts.

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NINETY-NINTH STREET HOSPITAL DISTRICT: Thirty-third, Thirty-fourth, Second, Thirty-first, Thirty-second, Thirty-fifth, and Thirtieth Precincts.

PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL DISTRICT: Twenty-third and Twenty-eighth Precincts.

A comparatively new criminal agency has been at work in certain sections of the city, spreading the fruitful seeds of contamination, and throwing additional responsibilities on the already overburdened shoulders of the Police. The agency in question is what is known as "the opium habit." In a remarkable short space of time this terrible vice has taken deep root, and it s very much to be feared that, like Bancho's ghost, it will not down, but t it has come to stay. The law's repressive hand has been placed upon it, but to-day it counts its victims by the thousand in this city alone. Captain McCullagh, of

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the Elisabeth Street Station, and Detective Gerow, have quite recently made an important "raid" on one of the "joints" where opium is smoked, and arrested a number of the denizens of Chinatown, who were caught in the act of "hitting the pipe." Unfortunately, this pernicious habit is not confined to the children of the flowery kingdom; a legion of opium smokers to the manner born, and many of them people of respectability and refinement, are slaves of this habit. Accurate illustration of some of the opium instrument found in the "joint" raided by Captain McCullagh are herewith given, for the enlightenment of the uninitiated.

The Opium Law is designated as follows: Chapter 165. An Act in relation to the sale and use of opium. Passed May 15, 1882.

Every person who opens or maintain, to be resorted to by other person, any place where opium, or any of its preparations, is sold or given away, to be smoked at such place; and any person who at such place sells or gives away any opium, or its said preparations, to be there smoked or otherwise used, and any person who visits or resorts to any such place for the purpose of smoking opium or its said preparations, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment in the penitentiary not exceeding three months or by both such fine and imprisonment.

The person who smokes opium always does so reclining, usually stretched across a hard wooden bunk covered with matting, a small stool or beveled board serving a pillow. Resting upon his left side, the smoker takes up a little of the treacle-like mass upon the steel needle (or yen hauck) and holding it above the flame of the lamp, watches it bubble and swell to sic or seven

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times its original size. In doing so it loses its inky hue, and becomes of a bright golden-brown color, and gives off a pleasant creamy odor, much admired by old smokers. Poor opium does not yield so pleasant an odor, is liable to drop from the needle into the flame of the lamp, and rarely gives so handsome a color, the yellow being here and there streaked with black. Having brought it tot a proper consistence, the operator, with a rapid twirling motion of the fingers holding the long needle, rolls the mass upon the smooth surface of the bowl, submitting it occasionally to the flame, and now and then catching it upon the edge or surface of the bowl, and pulling it our into strings in order to cook it through more thoroughly. This is called chying the mass.

Rolling it again on the surface of the bowl until the opium is formed into a small pea-sized mass, with the needle as a center, the needle is thrust into the small hole in the centre of the bowl, thus leveling off the bottom of the pea. Then, grasping the stem f the pipe near the bowl, in the left hand, the bowl is held across the flame of the lamp, to warm it; the bottom of the opium mass is also warmed, and by again thrusting the needle into the small aperture in the center of the bowl and quickly withdrawing it, the mass, with a hole it its center, communication with the hole in the bowl, is firmly fastened upon its surface.

Inclining the body slightly forward, the smoker tips the pipe-bowl across the lamp until the opium is just above the flame, when it commences to sizz and bubble. With the lips firmly compressed against the ivory mouth button, the devotee inhales strongly and steadily, the smoke of the burning drug passing into his lungs. This smoke, which is returned through the mouth and nose. Is heavy and white, and has a not unpleasant, fruity odor. Having finished this bolus, which requires but one long or a few short inspirations, the smoker cools the bowl of the pipe with a damp sponge, and repeats the operations of cooking, rolling and smoking as often as is necessary to obtain the desired effect. Smokers are classed as "long-draw" and "short-draw" men, according as they consume the mass in one long or a few short inspirations. The "long-draw" is unquestionably the most injurious.

The habitué, after smoking his allowance, which varies from seventy-five grains to two ounces, feels a pleasant sense of exhilaration that merges into a condition of dreamy wakefulness. It is a state in which the devotee finds himself perfectly happy and contented. The squalid surroundings of the opium den, the harassing cares and trials of life, are banished, and in indescribable sense o f complete satisfaction takes possession of him. This waking dream, this silken garment of the imagination, will take its shape and its coloring from the most cherished and brilliant strands that runs through the web and woof of his life's story. It hides the unpleasant conditions of every-day life, and gives birth to a pleasant bubble, the brilliant play of colors and misty outline of which are born of the pipe alone. As the smoker's hopes, ambitions, aspirations are, so will be the figures and incidents of his opium dolce far niente.

After a time the habitué finds that the pleasant things that always came at the pipe's bidding now ail to appear, and, disgusted with the pleasureless

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practice, he tosses aside the pipe in disgust, only to find that at a certain hour the following day he must smoke again; not drawn to it by any fascination, but drive to it by the horrible sufferings that follow close upon the heels of any attempt to abandon it.

Upon the habitual smoker we find the following effects resulting from a prolonged use of the drug:

Los of both desire and power for continued mental effort, tendency to lie without any good reason for so doing, vacillation, deterioration of honesty and morality, decided falling off of affection for family and friends, loss of ambition, as also of all interest in business pursuits. The temper, at first made

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more pleasant, soon becomes very irritable, and the individual very impatient. He indifferently watches the approach f poverty that will soon overtake those who have been so dear to him. His very hope and desire are centered in the pipe, and nothing can draw his attention from it. His eyelids are bloated and darkly underlines; his eyes now bright and glistening, and again full and apathetic. Conjunctivitis is not uncommon., the pupils are narrowly contracted, save when the effect of the drug is wearing off and he feels the need of opium, when they become widely dilated and water profusely.

Financially and morally, the ruin and degradation are more complete than in any other way of using the drug. An ordinary hard smoker will consume from one dollar to two dollars' worth of the drug each day, and will spend hours over the pipe to the exclusion of everything in the way of business.

A full outfit for smoking consists of the following: a pipe, a small glass lamp, a pair of scissors (cow ten), a long steel needle (yen hauck), a saucer and sponge, a box for the ashes, two bowl cleaners, and a buffalo-horn box (hop toy) for holding the opium.

The opium pipe, the origin and antiquity of which are unknown, though supposed to have first come from Arabia, consists of two parts, a stem and a bowl. The stem is usually of bamboo, one joint and a quarter, or twenty-four inches in length and four inches in circumference. When new it is a straw color, but with long smoking becomes black and glossy. The stem may be of ivory, orange, or briar wood, or sugar cane, and is occasionally made of lemon rind, cut, dried, and polished. The lemon stem gives a peculiarly pleasant taste and odor to the smoke.

At bout the junction of the middle and lower third, or just back of the joint, a place is hollowed our of the side of the stem and communicates with its longitudinal perforation. About this hollow there fits closely a shield of metal, usually brass, that rises in a rim about the hole. Into this is fitted the bowl. On either side of the stem is fitted a button

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Of ivory. These stems may be plain, or ornamented with silver and gold, and variously carved. The bowl maybe bell-shaped, ovate, or hexagonal. It is usually of a hard, red clay, and hollow. On its under surface is a neck or flange by which it is fitted into the stem. To make it fit tightly this is wrapped with strips of soft linen.

The upper surface of the bowl is either flat or sloping downward and outward. In its centre is an opening about sufficient to admit an ordinary darning needle. The whole pipe is called the yen tsieng, or opium-pistol.

The opium used for smoking is prepared in China. It is an aqueous extraction which represents fifty-four per cent, of the crude or India opium from which hit is made. This crude opium contains but three per cent of morphia, as against twelve per cent in the Smyrna opium used in this country.

Dr. F. n. Hammond, of Auburn, N. Y., recently read a paper before the Albany medical Society on the opium habit. Dr. Hammond himself had formerly been an opium eater, and spoke not only as a medical, but also as a personal expert. He presented some very significant and pointed facts, showing an enormous growth in the use of opium in this country. In 1840 about twenty thousand pounds of opium was consumed in the United States; in 1880 five hundred and thirty-three thousand four hundred and fifty pounds. In 1868 there were about ninety thousand habitual opium eaters in the country; now they number over five hundred thousand. More women than men are addicted tot he use of this drug. The vice is one so easily contracted, so easily practiced in private, and so difficult of detection, that it presents peculiar temptations and is very insidious. The relief from pain that it gives, and the peculiar exaltation of spirits, easily lead the victim to believe that the use of it is beneficial. Opium and chloral are to-day the most deadly foes of women. To break off from the habit, he says, the opium eater must reduce the quantity of his daily dose, using at the same time other stimulants, and gradually eliminate opium from his bill of fare.

The history of the introduction and growth of the opium habit in this city is an interesting and alarming one. The forms in which the deadly product of the poppy plant are used are manifold. It is smoked, eaten, drank in various preparations, and even injected into the circulation in the shape of morphine by the hypodermic syringe. All of these are equally enslaving, and all lead to the same inevitable result--death. The most debased and wretched practice of the habit is smoking, which now engaged in in scores of "joints" in New York.

About twelve years ago, when the Chinese began to flock to his city from the pacific coast, they brought with them their opium smoking outfits. The habit has been rife among the Celestials fro generations, and those who know the New York Mongolians best say that there is not on of them but "hits the pipe" regularly every day. Chinatown is in Pell Street, the lower part of Mott Street, and the crooked old by-ways of the neighborhood. Here, packed in tall tenements and in rickety old dwellings that were once the mansions of New York's well-to-do citizens, dwell the children of the sun, with their laundries, curio stops, and dingy grocery stores and club houses. For years the Celestials

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carried on their opium smoking with the utmost secrecy, and very few outsiders knew of the existence of their haunts, or what went on in them. After a while, however, the newspapers began to print highly-colored stories about scenes in the "joints" descriptions of the fashionable ladies who were alleged to be slaves to the habit, and all sorts of improbably details of gorgeously fitted-up dens and wealthy patrons. Of course these stories were without foundation in fact, but the general public took kindly to them. A veteran Police Captain said to the writer recently that he had yet to hear of a wealthy or refined person who was in the habit of smoking opium in the joints; "And I think I ought to know something about the joints," he added, "for I have made a study of them for years."

Still, the descriptions of the opium dens stimulated the curiosity of that large class of people who are ever on the lookout for a new sensation. Men, and in many cases, women, who had tried all forms of dissipation and found them palling on their tastes, began to visit the resorts and to smoke the poppy juice. Those whose constitutions had been undermined by much dissipation were peculiarly susceptible to the habit, and it soon fastened firmly upon them. The lower order of theatrical people, variety actors, dancers, and many of the demi-monde found the pleasures of the poppy a new and agreeable substitute for whiskey, and they form to-day by far the greater part of the white devotees of the pipe in New York. Many stores have been from time to time published about Chinamen dragging young girls into their dens and stupefying them with the drug, but they, are untrue and without foundation. "Surely they are really bad enough," said Captain McCullagh, of the Sixth Precinct, "without adding imaginary evils to the list of offenses laid at their door. The Chinamen are one of most harmless classes of dwellers in New York. They interfere with no one, they never fight or hurt one another, and you never find them drunk or disorderly on the streets. But the opium make sad work of them. Smokers who look reasonably stout and strong become ghastly pale, and shake like sufferers from the palsy when kept without the drug for a few days."

In the last three years one hundred persons have been arrested by the Police of this city in their raids upon opium joints. Of these, twelve were in 1882, nineteen in 1883, and the remainder during the past year. these significant figures call for no comment as showing the spread of the vice. "Raiding the joints won't stop the smoking," said a well-known Police Captain, recently, "it only drives the Chinamen from one house to another, that's all. As long as Chinamen are Chinamen they will continue to smoke it."

The amount of vice and crime springing from and fostered by the promiscuous herding together of human beings in tenements has been a fruitful source of trouble to the Police.

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In all the eastern part of New York city, notably between Houston and Fortieth Streets, there is an over-crowding of human beings in a degree far beyond anything that has ever been known in any civilized country. In the Fourth and sixth Wards, and in portions of the Eleventh and Seventeenth, population is packed at the rate of one hundred and ninety-two thousand individuals to the square mile, and in the Fourth Ward alone at the rate of two hundred and ninety thousand inhabitants to the square mile. The most densely populated districts of London do not approach anywhere near the above figures. The greatest number of persons to the square mile there is found in East London, one hundred and seventy-five thousand, while the St. James and St. Luke districts follow with only one hundred and forty-four thousand and one hundred and fifty-one thousand people per square mile respectively. Some five hundred thousand persons live in the tenement houses of this city, and there is one house in New York wherein one thousand five hundred tenants dwell. Twenty-four separate tenements, each occupied by four or five persons, are common in a large number of these

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houses, or an average of one hundred souls to a house of twenty-five feet front. Forty-eight families are not uncommon, and they often keep boarders, so that ten, or often fifteen persons, will be found in a single dwelling.

What refining or restraining influences of family life are possible under such surroundings? Drunkenness is but too prevalent. Weary and complaining wives, cross and hungry husbands, wild and ungoverned children, will inevitably jar and wrangle with each other. Dr. Elisha Harris, of the New York Police Association, says: "The younger criminals seem to come almost exclusively from the worst tenement house districts; that is, when traced back to the very places where they first had homes. Those very domicities are nurseries of crime, and of the vices and disorderly courses which lead to crime. At least eighty per cent of the crimes against property and against the person are perpetuated by individuals who never had any home-life, or whose homes had ceased to be sufficiently separate, decent and desirable, to afford what re regarded as ordinary wholesome influences of home and family. This statement is based upon accurate observations in the history of crimes and criminals in this State."

Whatever may be the cause or causes, whether intemperance, overcrowded tenements, ignorance, or inherited depravity, the unwelcome fact remains that crime is steadily on the increase, and outstrips in proportion the growth of population. A comparison of the statistics, as taken from the census of new York City for the past ten years, and the record of arrests and convictions in Criminal Courts for the same period, show that the preponderance in the growth of crime over population is as eleven to ten. This ought to cause our lawmakers and all thoughtful men to consider quickly the best men as of checking the rising tide of evil doings, by improving the public morals, and thus lighten the labors imposed upon OUR POLICE PROTECTORS.

 

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Our Police Protectors, History of the New York Police, Published for the benefit of the Police Pension Fund, by Augustine Costello, Published by Author, 1885.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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