April 8, 1909
Acting under express orders from the new board of police commissioners, Captain Thomas P. Flahive's men began yesterday to round up a gang of well dressed vagrants who for years have fattened in district No. 4 on the shame of 500 fallen women.
By midnight twenty-six male vampires were under arrest, and scores of other human vampires had fled from the scene of their long connection with the white slave traffic.
These hold degenerates, who aforetime flaunted their misdeeds in the faces of the patrolmen, and dared them to act, found yesterday that their pulls had vanished and that all crooks look alike to the police.
Also caught in the same net, which seined Kansas City from Twelfth to Nineteenth streets and from Locust to Wyandotte streets, were three of the women who supported these same well dressed vagrants.
So quickly did news of the crusade spread among the parasites that the officers who constituted the dragnet had to work quickly and silently. Four of those caught were found with suitcases packed, ready to leave the city. Captain Flahive believes that an exodus of vagrants has taken place. Twenty-four does not complete the count of those men known to the police, those men who live from the wages of unfortunate women. But in spite of the close search last night no more vagrants could be found.
Strangely enough the women seemed not to appreciate the work done by the police in delivering them from bondage, or perhaps it was fear. At any rate it was the woman, in most cases, who paid the $26 cash bond which liberated the arrested vagrant. All yesterday the telephone in the Walnut street police station was busy, and at the other end of the line was a woman who wanted to know if the particular vagrant whom she supported was arrested. Upon being in formed that such a person was under arrest, the woman, or her messenger, speedily appeared at the station with the necessary $26 in cash, and the vagrant was released on condition of his appearance in police court this morning.
Once liberated, all trace of the vagrant was lost and the district south of Twelfth street was as clean a district on the streets as any portion of the city.
One other order given to the police captain by the board was to keep the scarlet woman off the streets at night. This order was obeyed to the letter last night, and the only three who fared forth were promptly arrested. Formerly it would have been impossible to have walked any block of that district after dark without being accosted. Usually he would have been met by groups of women, but it was different last night.
In No. 4 district, it is claimed, there are eighty-nine of the class of rooming houses referred to by the police commissioners in their orders to Captain Flahive yesterday and who are paying a monthly fine to the city. There are also hotels and rooming houses by the score which pay no fine and have been overlooked by the police entirely.
In order that Captain Flahive may make sure work of his cleaning up of the district, the commissioners have given him the pick of the men on the department, and have given him permission to use extra men. This morning the captain will confer with Chief Frank Snow and pick the men who are to fill the places in the cleanup.
At present the district over which Captain Flahive has control is lacking policemen. Several officers are forced to patrol more than one beat, which is a handicap when it comes to competent police protection.
Concerning the work, Captain Flahive said last night:
"I am going to clean this district. Within two weeks there will be no more well dressed vagrants loitering around the saloons and rooming houses. This order from the commissioners is one for which I have long waited."
"Why hasn't this cleanup taken place before?" the captain was asked. Surely other commissioners knew that these conditions existed here."
"I have never been ordered to do so before," he replied. "But I do not wish to say anything about that. It is all dead, and I am going to carry out my orders now to the letter. This work is not a spurt, but it will be kept up, and this district will not know the well dressed vagrant after we have finished with them."
Among those vagrants who have been caught by the police are notorious men of the district, ringleaders in every kind of offense against decency. Many have been arrested before, but nothing ever came of the arrests. So bold did these vagrants become that they flaunted their misdeeds in the faces of the patrolmen, and then dared them to exercise the right of an officer.
The same tactics were tried yesterday, but without success. This time the patrolmen did not fear the loss of their stars for doing their duty.
The officers who made the arrests of vagrants yesterday are Sergeant Henry Goode and Patrolmen Mike Gleason and George Brooks.