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GUEST COLUMN: Memo to Police Chief Nelson

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Hi Chief:

Here are some suggestions to help you pare down the police budget.

Political Help: Get city council to make sure the July, 1880 “Public Morals” bylaw is off the books. Otherwise, the force will be spending money dealing with nude dancing on river floats, “all classes of vagrants” and “profane, obscene, blasphemous and grossly insulting language.”

Disregard Brothel Raids: A Sarnia police raid in 1881did not put the ladies out of business. It’s doubtful that a current one would either.

Encourage Police Discretion: Do not, unlike your 1895 predecessors, charge milkmen for making Sunday deliveries. Similarly, officers should just warn bicyclists who ride on the sidewalk. No need to repeat the sweep of 1907 that captured 14 bike riders. It clogs up the court docket, puts undue strain on the Crown Attorney and costs the force money.

Ignore Cases of Absconding Lovers: In 1908, one Charles Foran found himself incarcerated in Sarnia. While he was in jail his life partner, Lib Clark, and the hired hand, Louis Whitesell, took off with their ill intents and $250 of Foran’s money. The sordid event was described as “callous heartlessness and treachery. “

Following an international investigation Clark and Whitesell were apprehended in Port Huron, the money was recovered and the two returned in custody to Sarnia. The report in The Observer did not mention whether Foran and Whitesell shared a jail cell.

Take A Cab: In August, 1913 The Bank of Montreal cut off the money supply to town council because it was already “considerably overdrawn.”                                                                                                                                                            Still reeling from the embarrassment seven years later, council refused to fund the purchase of a police cruiser. After noting it would be difficult for police on a bike to catch speeders, the Observer stated: “The call a taxi method of answering hurry calls will still prevail with the Sarnia police.

It’s worth a thought, Chief. No purchase or maintenance costs.

Political help #2: Get the mayor and council to pass a bylaw requiring all citizens to consume at least one tot of alcohol per day. In the 1878 annual report of the Sarnia Jail, officials reported that of the 591 inmates that year the vast majority – 73% – described themselves as temperate abstainers.

It may seem surprising, but there you go – imbibers were the least jailed.

Chief Nelson, no need for profuse thanks. You are welcome.

Randy Evans is a contributor to The Sarnia War Remembrance Project and The Sarnia Streets Project          




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