Once upon a time, a dutiful citizen informed the Tucson City Council that laws agains liquor and gambling weren't being enforced by the police. It was 1915, during Prohibition.

The citizen only knew of one honest officer. This officer was arresting citizens for speeding. However, other police were allowing public drunkenness to go unchecked except for Mexicans and "unfortunates."

From the Arizona Daily Star, Tuesday, June 8, 1915:


Following Impassioned Arraignment for Vice and Lawlessness by Gus Hoff, Mayor and Councilmen Admit the Charge and Threaten to Fire Whole Force and Stop the Chief’s Salary; Police Arrest Only Autoists and Mexicans, Hoff Charges; Special Mysterious Sleuth to Be Employed by the City

The city council last night authorized Mayor Corbett to employ a special officer or detective to secure evidence with regard to liquor selling and gambling in the city, the identity of the officer to be known only to the mayor. The action was taken following a general discussion of law enforcement which was precipitated by an address to the council by Gus Hoff.

During the discussion it was stated positively by members of the council that the prohibition law and laws against gambling were being violated and the mayor said that he knew personally that bling tigers and gambling rooms were being operated, but that it was difficult to secure convicting evidence.

Mr. Hoff addressed the council after the regular business of the meeting had been concluded, and in an impassioned speech urged the enforcement of all laws, but particularly those applying to liquor selling and gambling.

He started by telling of being in an automobile a few days ago which was halted by Officer Huss and the driver charged with speeding. He stated that neither the driver nor he realized that they were violating an ordinance, but that they appeared before Judge Cowan and a fine of $10 was assessed against them and paid; that while the fine was not paid cheerfully, still it was refreshing to know that the city had one officer who dared to do his duty. He then said he wished to call the council’s attention to other laws that were being violated with no effort to stop the violations being made.

“There is not one of you present but who knows positively that the laws are being violated, and some of you from personal knowledge,” Mr. Hoff said, and then he attacked the police force and its methods very severely. He belittled the excuse that the city officers could not enforce the state laws, and said there were city ordinances against gambling and providing for the arrest of drunken persons. He said the existence of gambling was common street talk and that it was a common sight to see drunken men on the main streets. He accused the police of arresting only Mexicans or poor unfortunates and ignoring people of better position when intoxicated.

He urged that all laws should be enforced and enforced impartially, and that if there were any ordinances which the council felt should not be enforced they should be repealed.

He said that moral progress had come slowly here, but that there had never been a step backward, and that Arizona was “dry” and “dry” to stay, and in closing made a strong talk on the evils of liquor and an eloquent appeal for officers who would do their duty and enforce the law.

In the discussion following, the councilmen all agreed that something should be done to bring about a better enforcement of the prohibition and gambling laws.

Councilman Wakefield suggested that the police force be notified that if conditions were not improved by July 1 the entire force would be let go, and the salary of the chief, whom the council could not fire, would be cut to $5 over month.

Mayor Corbett, however, called attention to the fact that the regular officers could do little in securing evidence, and that it would require a special officer who was not known to accomplish anything against the bootleggers. He also said he thought it advisable to wait until the law which gives the city recorder jurisdiction in cases of arrest for violation of the state laws became effective. This law will be in force June 24. The matter was finally left with the mayor, who was given power to employ a special officer to work on bootlegging and gambling cases.

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The council's decision was to have the mayor employ a "special officer," what we might now call "undercover" to gather evidence. Let's hope the lackadaisical police didn't read the report in the newspaper.

Meanwhile, on the same page of the Star, the honest police officer who issued speeding tickets was praised, while the speedsters were outed:


City Nets $10 Fine in Each of Six Cases and Several Yet to Be Tried

The crusade of the police against speeders and other offenders of the automobile ordinances still continues. Among those arrested and fined by Recorder Cowan during the past three days are the following:

A C. Schon, speeding on North Stone avenue, $10 fine; Mike ———, speeding on West Congress, $10 fine; J. B. Welch, speeding on West Congress, $10; W. H. Herbert, speeding on West Congress, $10 fine; Warren J. Jeffries, speeding on West Congress street, $10 fine, a charge of running with open muffler being dismissed.

H. C. Kinnison, charged with speeding, and Miss R. L. Hill, arrested on the same charge, have yet to have their cases heard. The arrests have been made by Officer Mills and Detective Huss, chiefly the latter.

O. H. Grab was arrested last night for running his automobile without a tail light. His trial was set for 4:00 o’clock this afternoon.