In 1932, the year he was appointed sheriff, Eugene Biscailuz was referred to as the most popular man in Los Angeles County. In the program for the party honoring his fifty-one years of service in law enforcement in 1958, he was called “Mr. California.” As his retirement approached in December of that year, the county board of supervisors, unable to imagine Los Angeles County without Eugene Biscailuz serving in some capacity, attempted to create a position for him as the official county greeter. One paper expressed the gap that would be left in county government by his departure this way, “It is almost inconceivable that this gentleman should ever retire. Losing him would be losing part of Los Angeles, part of it somewhere close to the pulse beat of its heart.”
Biscailuz was the Sheriff of Los Angeles County, but more than that he was the county’s ambassador. He linked the county’s past with its future. He advanced the frontiers of law enforcement, but he also helped bring Los Angeles to national prominence. He counted many in the Hollywood community as friends. He helped to advance the political career of Earl Warren. He fostered international goodwill with Mexico and Latin America, so much so that he was strongly considered to be the Ambassador to Mexico by the Eisenhower Administration. Yet, despite all of this, today he is a man who is not much known outside of his beloved Sheriff’s Department, but though his legacy continues on in the administration of law enforcement throughout the country meriting his status as an icon, the man himself is largely forgotten.
“He [the peace officer] should strive in every way to make himself competent and efficient, and he must always bear in mind that conditions are constantly changing and it is necessary for him to study conditions to keep abreast of the times.”
Eugene Biscailuz Early Years
Biscailuz was a man of vision who also had a strong sense of the past. He knew where law enforcement came from and he understood that it needed to keep evolving with the times. Biscailuz strong sense of history and appreciation for the law was deep rooted in his family’s past.
His grandfather William Crossman Warren was from Buffalo, New York and sailed around the Horn in 1850 and settled in Los Angeles at the age of fourteen. He was a descendent of General Joseph Warren of Revolutionary War fame. William married Juanita Lopez, a descendant of Claudio Lopez who first came to San Diego with Portola and Father Junipero Serra in 1768 and later went on to become the first Majordomo of the Mission at San Gabriel and supervised its construction.
Warren served as a deputy sheriff under Tomas Sanchez in 1861 and was then elected town marshal in 1862 serving through the tumultuous years of the Civil War. His daughter Ida was born in 1865 and Warren continued his tenure as town marshal until 1867. He was turned out of office for two years but was reelected again in 1869.
Unfortunately, Ida did not know her father long. On October 31, 1870 Warren got into a violent argument with Joe Dye, one of his deputies. The dispute resulted in a gun battle that left Warren dead and Ida without her father.
The death of her father was a hard thing for Ida Warren. Over the years she glamorized the story turning her father into a martyr for the cause of law and order. It was this romanticized tale that Ida would share with her young son Gene along with the badge that her father was wearing the day he died. Biscailuz kept that badge for the rest of his life.
Ida was still in her teens when she married prominent attorney Martin Biscailuz in 1880. March 12, 1883, she gave birth to her son Eugene Warren Biscailuz. The future sheriff bore the middle name of his slain grandfather. The senior Biscailuz was of Basque heritage and spoke various dialects of that tongue as well as French, Italian and Spanish which allowed him to garner a rather large client pool. Martin was educated at St. Vincent’s college and spent several years studying in Europe. His mastery of the variations of Basque served him well when he founded one of the first Basque newspapers in California, Escualdun Gazeta, in 1885 and served as its editor. During this time Martin was also serving as a yLos Angeles city councilmen and was last man of Latin heritage to hold a seat on the council for decades.
Young Gene inherited his father’s keen intellect and his mother’s appreciation for California’s past. By the age of nine he had read many works by Louisa May Alcott including Little Women, Jo’s Boys and Under the Lilacs and he was excelling in school.
The Biscailuz family lived quite comfortably. Then in 1888 Martin won a case in which his client was awarded possession of the Encino Rancho. Biscailuz’s fee was $36,000, a kingly sum at the time. With such wealth the Biscailuz home was expansive and both maids and a footman were in their employ. But all was not well in the Biscailuz home. The huge award apparently went to Martin Biscailuz’s head and he began a slow slide into alcoholism. In July 1893, Ida left him and moved in with her sister amid accusations that Martin threatened her upon learning that she wanted a divorce. A charge of disturbing the peace followed in October as he returned to his sister-in-law’s house in a drunken fit and began pounding on the door and doing “other disagreeable things” according to an account in the Los Angeles Times. Two days later he was fined in police court for his behavior.
This was not the first time that attorney Biscailuz would find him on the wrong side of the law and it would not be the last. Over the next five years he was in and out of justice courts and jail from charges ranging from misappropriation of funds, petit larceny, and even forging Superior Court Judge Van Dyke’s signature on a document. The Times first called him “erratic” and later “nutty.” He spent time in the county insane asylum as well as the jail. He died in county hospital on June 22, 1899 from tubercular dropsy after being checked in there upon completion of a six month sentence in county jail for theft. The plight of Biscailuz father was no doubt a bitter disappointment and embarrassment to him. Biscailuz makes no mention of his father in later years, and all official accounts of Biscailuz’s father omit his last few years as a drunk and petty thief.
There was no doubt that Martin Biscailuz’s condition took a toll on his young son. Eventually he and his mother left his aunt’s house and moved in with his grandmother Juanita Warren. But Gene continued to do well in school. He appeared to throw himself into other pursuits to distract him from his personal grief. Then, in 1896, Ida remarried to Captain Jesse Hunter and Gene lived with them on Hunter’s ranch. Biscailuz appeared to get along well with Hunter. The location of Hunter’s ranch was two miles from Gene’s school so it was quite a trek, but when the weather and roads permitted he rode a bicycle to school. Biscailuz developed a passion for bike riding and in the spring of 1900 almost won the annual long distance bike race from Los Angeles to Corona and back. Even in retirement, some sixty year plus years, later Biscailuz still received correspondence reminding him of his early love for bicycle racing and even his obituary referred to his longtime membership in the Los Angeles Wheelman, a bike club. Perhaps all the miles Biscailuz put in on his bicycle helped him work off some of the frustration that he no doubt felt not having his father in his life.
School was another area where Biscailuz channeled his energy. He fostered his passion for history and continued reading voraciously. He was particularly fond of Scott and Dickens. Math was not his strong suit. He also attended Professor Kramer’s school of dancing, a school that also stressed deportment and courtesy and Biscailuz applied this well at the local fiestas in town. Years later, as sheriff, his flare in countless parades and at many other civic functions can no doubt be traced to these early days of study under Professor Kramer. By 1898, at the age of fifteen, he began to push his mother and stepfather for more freedom and they permitted him to work at Oliver and Haines bookshop. This was also the year that Biscailuz father unexpectedly took ill and died.
But another significant event occurred late that same year. Newly elected Governor Henry T. Gage appointed former Los Angeles County Sheriff Martin Aguirre warden of San Quentin Prison. Aguirre admired Captain Hunter and asked him to come to San Quentin with him and become captain of the yard. When Captain Hunter and his mother left for the Bay Area in early 1899, young Gene stayed behind and moved in with his aunt. Later that year he quit school and began working full time at Oliver and Haines. Gene admired all the leading men of the town who came into the shop, but in September of 1900 he took a vacation with a friend to San Francisco. Gene’s friend went home but he stayed and lived with his mother and stepfather in San Quentin while he obtained a job in San Francisco at a shop on Montgomery Street and Pine that dealt in paper, books and stationary.
It was during his time at San Quentin that Biscailuz first spent time with inmates. He developed a unique perspective living within the walls of the prison and even played handball with trusties in the prison. According to his biographers Lindley Bynum and Idwal Jones, who wrote an official biography of Biscailuz in 1950, “The hundreds of games he played there with those men, Gene looks back upon as a solid part of his education.”
Another significant, life changing event occurred to Biscailuz during his time at San Quentin. It was there he met his future wife Willette. Willette’s father Henry Harrison, the former sheriff of Marin County, was an officer at San Quentin. He had four daughters but it was her older sister Alice that Gene first had his eye on. But his attention was quickly drawn to Alice’s younger sister. Gene was seventeen and Willette fourteen when they met. Two years later, in 1902, they eloped to San Francisco and were married by a justice of the peace. A year later their first daughter Carol was born, but newly elected Governor Pardee replaced Aguirre and Captain Hunter was turned out as well.
But the job of Captain of the yard went to Willette’s father. Gene and Willette’s place in San Quentin was still assured but Gene’s uncle John Bacigalupi offered him a job in Los Angeles’ oil business and Willette thought the move south would be good for their family.
The return to southern California worked well for Biscailuz. He soon left his uncle’s employ and took a job working as a clerk at the River Station of the Southern Pacific Railroad and later at the Los Angeles Gas and Electric Company. Biscailuz was also a joiner. One of the first organizations of which he became a member was The Native Sons of the Golden West and he was soon one of the local chapter’s officers where he met many distinguished men of the community. He soon got involved in local Republican politics and in 1904 helped campaign for a local city councilman. The success of his candidate bode well for Biscailuz and he began to make a name for himself. In 1906, he was campaigning for the first time for himself as a delegate to the Republican convention to be held in August in nearby Venice. It was a hard fought campaign for the honor and Biscailuz was out pounding on doors and talking to his neighbors. He was elected delegate in August and then again in November. But Biscailuz had yet to find his niche.
During the fall of 1906 he campaigned diligently for former Sheriff Billy Hammel who was seeking to return to his old job. After Hammel’s election Gene wanted a position as a deputy. In those days, prior to the civil service system, appointments to the office of deputy were awarded on the spoils system. When one man was elected, the deputies of his predecessor were turned out with him. Biscailuz appealed directly to Sheriff Hammel and was informed that he was to be one of the twenty-seven men who would receive a position.
Biscailuz took his oath of office on January 7, 1907. He was twenty-three. No one could imagine at that time, least of all Biscailuz, that this was the beginning of an almost fifty-two year career in law enforcement. Biscailuz was sworn in with many men who would go on to significant careers in the sheriff’s office. There was Major Julius B. Loving, the department’s first black deputy sheriff, who was originally made a deputy in 1899 by Hammel, but lost his position under White. Loving would rise to the rank of Inspector before he retired in 1937 thus making him also the first black executive in the history of the department. Also sworn in were Frank Cochran, N.M. Sweesy, Dan Crowley and William Osterholt who enjoyed long and distinguished careers. Another man sworn in with him was Arthur C. Jewell, a veteran of the Spanish-American War. When Biscailuz became Sheriff, it was his friend Jewell who served for over twenty years as his Undersheriff. The last man of note was a large quiet man who won some fame as a football star at Stanford University when he was captain of the team in 1901. His name was William I. Traeger. In 1921, Traeger would become sheriff and appoint Biscailuz as his Undersheriff.
Biscailuz, the youngest of the twenty-seven deputies sworn in under Hammel, was just happy to have a job as foreclosure clerk in the civil division. His boss, Chief of the civil division, was Juan Murrieta. Murrieta first became a deputy under Sheriff Kays in 1887. He served in various capacities since that time and was often called the “Father of Sheriff’s” because of the number of Sheriffs he mentored. Young Biscailuz needed a great deal of mentoring. Murrieta reportedly told Hammel that Biscailuz was a good man, but he called him a chapule, a grasshopper. He said the young deputy “never moves but he jumps.”
Biscailuz thrived on education from his youth. Both formal education and also education though lessons of observation. In 1910, Sheriff Hammel assigned him to provide security at the Los Angeles’ first air show at Dominguez. Despite the crash of one of the flyers, Biscailuz saw the potential for this new technology. He was also educated by what he saw some of his young peers create at a downtown café.
California was a hotbed of the Progressive reform and nowhere was that spirit keener than in Los Angeles. Five months after Biscailuz was sworn in as a deputy a group of young men, fed up with local politics dominated by the powerful and often corrupt Southern Pacific Railroad machine met at Levy’s Café in downtown Los Angeles. At their core these men were reform minded Roosevelt Republicans. By August the group met again in Oakland, this time enlisting more supporters from that end of the state, and the Lincoln-Roosevelt Republican League was formed and the Progressive Movement began. League member Hiram Johnson was elected California Governor in 1910 and two years later he formed the Progressive Party and was Theodore Roosevelt’s running mate in the presidential election.
Though Roosevelt’s second place finish to Woodrow Wilson in the 1912 presidential election was the high water mark of Progressive Politics, its influence continued in California for decades. Biscailuz thoroughly embraced Progressivism. Its impact is visible the reform minded acts he later initiated as Sheriff.
Biscailuz benefited from another aspect of the Progressive movement, civil service reform. The California state legislature permitted counties to form their own county charters in 1911 and Los Angeles was the first county to do so. The county charter was passed at the November election in 1912. Progressives in the City of Los Angeles made the difference in the close vote.
The charter took effect on June 2, 1913. One aspect of the charter created a civil service commission. Civil service meant that all the job of all current deputy sheriffs were protected and not subject to the whim of the sheriff and all future applicants must take a test to gain employment. Though current deputies were exempt from taking the exam, it did put them on notice that their profession was becoming more professional and scientific. It was shortly after this time that Biscailuz began to attend law school at USC.
Though this charter, the first of its kind for a county in the United States, was narrowly supported by the citizens of Los Angeles County, Sheriff Hammel opposed it. One reason was that it limited his ability to hire and fire, but the charter also restructured how the Sheriff was to be paid. Prior to the charter’s passage, the Sheriff could still pocket a great deal of money through the fee system. One principle source of fees was funds from the Federal government for housing Federal prisoners in county jail. Hammel continued taking these fees after the new charter was adopted in June and the county brought suit against him in 1914. In the tight election for Sheriff in 1914, this suit may have contributed to his defeat by John C. Cline.
Cline served as sheriff from 1893 to 1894 and, like Hammel, he also wanted to appoint his own men to office and liked the fee system that so handsomely augmented the Sheriff’s income. In 1915, Cline was hoping that the courts would overturn the charter and permit him to turn out Hammel’s men and continue pocketing fees. The Board of Supervisors set the Sheriff’s salary at $5,000 and the county charter mandated that the fees be turned over to the county treasury. These fees had amounted to as much as $25,000 in the past. Cline was obviously hoping for a favorable ruling on this matter. In January, and then in March, Cline received mixed messages on the charter from the courts. The first decision benefited Biscailuz and his fellow deputies. The second would later help lead to Cline’s downfall.
The charter and the Sheriff’s election in 1914 put Biscailuz and his comrades in an awkward and nervous position. The irony for them was that while they all supported their former boss Hammel for reelection, he opposed the very law that they now were counting on to save their jobs. Each deputy came in early in the morning on January 2, 1915 and took their seat at their desk. Biscailuz later said that the men were afraid to get up lest one of Cline’s men take their chair. On January 4th, the Civil Service Commission and the Board of Supervisors dismissed issues raised by certain interpretations of the State Constitution about the legality of the charter. This won Biscailuz and his fellows a stay and then a ruling by Superior Court Judge Works on January 25th made the decision permanent. The job of Biscailuz and all deputies appointed before Cline took office were assured.
Biscailuz continued to rise in the Sheriff’s Department under Sheriff Cline and his family continued to grow. His daughter Jean Marie was born in 1908 and his son Warren arrived in 1917. By this time he his law degree at USC and was well established in a number of local civic organizations in addition to the Native Sons such as the Elks, the Masons and the exclusive Jonathan Club. One friend later said of him, “If there’s a service club Gene doesn’t belong to, it must be because he hasn’t heard of it.” But all these memberships increased his visibility in the community and then Sheriff Cline elevated him to Assistant Chief Deputy of the Civil Division which increased his stature on the sheriff’s department.
First Brief Foray into Politics
In December 1917, Los Angeles City Councilman J.B. Conwell died. Mayor Woodman wanted the position filled as quickly as possible. So the remaining eight members of the city council began to advance names.
Biscailuz’s name was proposed by Councilman Farmer and on the first ballot Biscailuz won three of the four votes needed to take the seat, but a fourth vote was never sent his way and the post went to another.
That Biscailuz was considered for this seat was testimony to his place in the local Republican Party and his success at making himself known in the community through his various affiliations. The fact that Biscailuz went after the council seat shows his political ambition, but his time had not yet come.
In 1919, trouble began for Sheriff Cline and soon charges of malfeasance and corruption were leveled against him. He was accused of a variety of acts of impropriety from fixing speeding tickets for friends and then having their records destroyed to charging a fee for those desirous of becoming special deputies and then insisting that they go through a company owned by his brother and a nephew to purchase their badges. Ultimately, there were perhaps as many as 9,000 special deputies under Cline. This position was chiefly a reward for political supporters and Cline’s abuse of it led to further accusations.
The Board of Supervisors went after Cline in earnest in 1920. One of their first assaults was against the special deputies. Their chosen means to wage battle was the creation of a new badge. At this time the badge had an eagle mounted at its top. The new badges would have a bear with the words “Deputy Sheriff, Los Angeles, California” and a serial number at the bottom. When the supervisors won the badge war, the previous badges issued by Cline were worthless.
But the most serious charge leveled against Cline was that he was still pocketing fees for the detention of Federal prisoners. Charges and countercharges were made between the Supervisors and Sheriff Cline beginning in 1919 and by the end of 1920 Cline was facing dismissal charges in court. In January 1921, twenty-one counts were filed against him. Then, on March 2nd, Judge Monroe ruled against Cline on seven counts and as a result he was removed from office.
Biscailuz remained detached from these scandals, but it was not possible for all those on the department to not be impacted by them. When Cline was forced from office Biscailuz was an unwitting beneficiary of his misfortune. With Cline gone, it fell to the Board of Supervisors to appoint his successor. There were no shortage of applicants, but the Board finally decided on William Traeger. Traeger, a Spanish-American War veteran, Stanford football star, and deputy U.S. marshal, was sworn in with Biscailuz as a deputy sheriff in 1907. He earned his law degree in 1909 and in 1911 left the sheriff’s department and became a Deputy Clerk of the State Supreme Court. He was still serving in this capacity when the Supervisors selected him Sheriff to complete Cline’s term.
Traeger was sworn into office on March 9th, one week after Cline’s dismissal. Initially, Traeger felt that an Undersheriff was unnecessary, but the administrative details of the job soon began to overwhelm him. On his first day in office he personally handled a major riot in the county’s overcrowded jail. Dealing with issues related to the deteriorating and inadequate state of that structure put added demands on his time. The need for a strong number two man readily became apparent. Traeger initially said that he had a number of men in mind, but chose Biscailuz, a man who he knew for fourteen years and who had proven himself both in the Sheriff’s Department and the community.
Biscailuz assumed the Undersheriff’s job on July 1st. The Undersheriff is the Department’s number two man and oversees its administrative operations. It is the Sheriff who determines policy. It is the Undersheriff who ensures that this policy is carried out and who overseas day to day operations. This role aptly suited Biscailuz and his competence at it delighted Traeger. Managing the minutia of the growing department was not Traeger’s strong suit. One of Biscailuz’s first tasks was to bring order to the chaos that was the Department’s handling of its documents and records. But the Department had a host of other areas that needed attention. The Los Angeles Times reported that Biscailuz was to, “bring each department of the office up to its highest efficiency; to weave together the police of outlying cities, constables and the Sheriff’s office into an effective county police system; to carry into effect plans being formulated to make Los Angeles county an unhealthy place for criminals.” In the aftermath of the Cline regime, and with the deteriorating and overcrowded condition of the jail, the task before Traeger and Biscailuz was daunting. The county was also on the verge of a decade of amazing growth.
There were 935,455 people counted in the county census of 1920: by the 1930 census that number was 2,208,492. This population explosion presented serious challenges for local law enforcement and necessitated that it grow with the populace. Additionally, crime fighting techniques were beginning to take advantage of advances in technology, as were criminals. This required incorporation of new methods and approaches into police agencies. During the 1920s the Sheriff’s Department met these challenges by an explosive growth in its numbers and the subdividing of these numbers into specialized units and details. When Traeger took office in 1921 there were only 82 personnel in the department. When he resigned in 1932 there were 850. Together with Biscailuz he put these growing numbers to work.
In response to the issues of jail overcrowding, Traeger established an honor camp on the Rindge Ranch in the Malibu Mountains on April 12th. This camp was for inmates sentenced on misdemeanor charges. The idea of prisoners working during their incarceration was not a new one in the United States, but these work camps were a novel approach in penology. In 1915, the State Legislature passed the “Convict Labor Law” which permitted the Department of Engineering to use prison labor to help build California’s roads. Though this law provided a purpose for the work camps these were not traditional chain gangs overseen by guards wielding shotguns or holding leashed dogs. Inmates lived in tents and were paid 50 cents a day. They lived on the honor system and were not handcuffed or chained. Guards were frequently unarmed. The task of the men was to improve county roads and they were to be compensated for doing so. The first camp proved successful and it was next moved to a spot on the San Dimas Creek below the San Dimas Dam.
The success of this program was important to Traeger and one of Biscailuz’s tasks was overseeing its management. Biscailuz reportedly made routine appearances at the work camp at San Dimas on the weekends to ensure that all was well. Traeger refused to call what he was attempting to do at the camps rehabilitation. He saw it as an attempt to give men their self-confidence back. Whatever it was, 78% of the men assigned to the camps during that first year stuck it out and did not wander off. This appeared to be good enough for the Board of Supervisors because they allotted funds for the camp in November 1922. By this time the camp moved on to the Swartout Canyon in the mountains south of Palmdale. By 1931, the Sheriff’s Department operated eight camps each housing a maximum of sixty men and the camp model was being replicated in other western states.
The overcrowded county jail was finally replaced by the new Hall of Justice on February 1st, 1926. The Sheriff’s Offices were on the second floor. The third through eighth floors housed court rooms. The new jail inhabited the ninth through the fifteenth floors. The inmates were so happy to be out of the overcrowded and dilapidated jail across the street from the new one that they conducted a celebratory riot and started a number of small fires the morning they were moved. Biscailuz personally oversaw the move of the prisoners to their new jail.
Within a year Biscailuz and Traeger added another component to their drive to take pressure off the jail. By then the new Hall of Justice Jail was already at capacity and one of the things that kept its numbers so high was the fact that as soon as many homeless, jobless men were released, they were immediately rearrested by local law enforcement agencies as vagrants. Doing bum or hobo sweeps was nothing new in southern California. In the days before civil service lawmen and justices of the peace were paid by the head. This was quite a lucrative business and one that put a drain on government coffers. In the 1890s, the county put an end to this practice, but sweeping up men with no obvious means of supporting themselves was still seen as a prudent way to thwart crime before it happened.
On May 4th, 1927, Traeger called together many of the most influential businessmen in Los Angeles for a breakfast to enlist their support in dealing with this problem. Traeger’s chief concern was finding employment for men who needed a break. This was a logical next step from the work camps. Biscailuz was one of many men who spoke at the breakfast. Among others addressing the group were oil baron E.L. Doheny, George Rogers of Union Oil, D.W. Pontius, vice-president of Pacific Electric Company and Louis B. Mayer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios. Doheny pledged $5,000 as seed money. Many others contributed as well, and Pontius and Mayer said that they would direct their companies to assist men recommended to them by the Sheriff find work. The money pledged that day became known as the Doheny Fund. The most visible manifestation of this fund for the next thirty years was a tobacco and confectionary stand located inside the lobby of the Hall of Justice. All the proceeds from this enterprise went to assist jail inmates. Traeger appointed Colonel Robert E. Frith as head of the Contract Office. It was his job to work with local businesses in finding jobs for eligible inmates. Colonel Frith was involved with the work camps at that time, so he seemed a logical choice for this job and held the position until 1939 when the Board of Supervisors abolished his position for economic reasons. But the stand in the lobby of the Hall of Justice continued to operate throughout Biscailuz’s time as Sheriff.
The problems of rapid growth in Los Angeles County in the 1920s impacted all areas of the Sheriff’s operations. When Traeger took office there were twenty Departments of the Superior Court. By the time he left there were fifty. Each court required a bailiff and prisoners brought to each court needed to be supervised before they were escorted into court for their proceedings. An increase in personnel in this area of the Department was a necessity.
To deal with the increasing needs of the growing population in the county, Traeger and Biscailuz decentralized the patrol function and established a number of substations to provide local patrol. The sheriff was responsible to provide police services in all the unincorporated areas of the county and there were far fewer incorporated cities in the county in the 1920s. Even the City of Los Angeles was far smaller then than it is today. All this area was under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff. To better police the community it was decided to decentralize policing. Prior to this time local communities had their own constabulary who did their policing. This force was a subordinate and ancillary part of the Sheriff’s Department, but by providing a more formalized patrol function it was felt that better police protection could be provided. By 1929, nine substations were established throughout the county.
Managing this growing police force and ever expanding jail and work camp system was daunting enough, but the Department added a number of other special support details during this time. The Homicide Detail was established in 1921 as a joint operation with the District Attorney’s Office, the Coroner’s Office and the LAPD. In 1922, details focusing on Auto-Theft, Fugitives and Narcotic and Liquor Law violators were also formed. Later a Farm Theft Detail was created. In 1926, five “airplane” deputies were even sworn in for fugitive pursuit. In 1930, this would become the Aero Detail.
To keep all this straight the Bureau of Records, established in 1921, was consolidated with the Bureau of Identification, created under Sheriff Cline, in 1926. To better keep track of trends and statistics in the county the Statistical Bureau was created in 1925 and then, wisely, a Bureau of Public Relations was established the following year to do a better job communicating with the media and the public. The Laboratory of Criminological Research was added in 1928 to incorporate all the advances of criminal science into one location and then a Teletype System was added to give the Department a then modern means of rapid communication.
Biscailuz’s hand was present in the shaping of all the new changes on the Department. Dr. F.W. Emerson was the head of the Department of Public Relations in the 1930s. He wrote the Sheriff Department’s first history in 1940. This was a sanitized version of the Sheriff Department’s past. For example, there was no mention of the controversy that led to Sheriff Cline’s removal. Emerson was careful in how he spoke of both Traeger and Biscailuz as he crafted his history. Biscailuz only spoke of Traeger in the most laudatory terms and always gave full credit to him for the innovations created while he served as Traeger’s Undersheriff, but there is ample evidence to suggest that it was Biscailuz who made sure the new changes were effectively managed. Even Emerson wrote:
In this capacity [Undersheriff] he played a very important part in the re-organization and improvement of the Department. His progressive spirit and keen understanding of the problems of the County, coupled with his superior executive and organizing qualities, made his service of extremely practical value in the inauguration of the many new and efficient types of official services instituted within the Department during that period.
Early on in Traeger’s administration Biscailuz’s administrative skills were widely known within the Department, but though he had made a minor name for himself in various circles in the community he was still just the second man on the Sheriff’s Department and not widely known throughout the County. That all changed in 1923 because of a jilted wife, turned murderer and then fugitive, named Clara Barton.
In July 1922, the body of young, pretty Alberta Meadows was found alongside a lonely road. At first the crime was attributed to someone of unusual strength because Alberta’s head was bashed in with a hammer and her body was partially covered by a large rock. It was later learned that her killer was in fact Clara Barton who murdered Alberta because she was having an affair with her husband. The papers began calling Clara the “Tiger Girl” and she began drawing a popular following. Despite Barton’s popularity she was convicted of second degree murder on November 27th. That should have been the end of Clara’s time in the headlines, but instead it was just beginning. On December 5th, she escaped from county jail. Three bars to her cell window were cut, but the hole seemed too small to accommodate her. Some felt she was assisted by an admirer. Others thought it was an inside job. Either way she was gone. Four months later the government of Honduras communicated to the Department that they were holding Mrs. Barton in that Central American country. An extradition treaty was in place between the United States and Honduras since 1912 and the Hondurans appeared willing to honor it.
Sheriff Traeger assigned Biscailuz the task of retrieving Barton. Biscailuz, fluent in Spanish from his youth and a good negotiator, was dispatched to placeCentral America. His stepbrother, Deputy Sheriff Walter Hunter, was sent with him and Biscailuz’s wife Willette also accompanied him as an acting matron. Upon arriving in CityTegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, it became evident that retrieving Mrs. Barton would be more an act of persuasion than one of simple extradition. Barton was quite the sensation with certain local members of the press and certain Honduran officials. It was doubtful that she would be made to return to theUnited States by the Honduran government if she did not want to go. Biscailuz persuaded Barton of the wisdom of returning and dealing with her fate, but getting out of Honduras and then back to Los Angeles was an enterprise worthy of a book in its own right. The party traveled first over the mountains to the Caribbean and then by ship toNew Orleans and then train to Los Angeles.
Biscailuz won national notoriety for the return of Barton to southern California and from this point on he was ever in the public’s eye. But the trip cost him dearly. Willette took deathly ill and though she recovered the lingering effects of her illness plagued her for the rest of her life and rendered her at times an invalid and some suggest hastened her death in 1950.
Another event that brought Biscailuz local notoriety was the annual picnic hosted by the Sheriff’s Relief Association. This association was found in March 1924. Its intent was to provide death and disability benefits for deputies who suffered illness or injury. Workers’ compensation laws were a Progressive reform. As such, California was one of the first states to adopt them in 1913. Still, there were many circumstances where a Sheriff’s employee could suffer injury or illness away from the job that would not be covered by workers’ compensation. In addition, the law was not as far reaching then as it is now. Obvious injuries were covered. Lesser injuries and illnesses were more problematic. The Sheriff’s Relief Association was created to fill this gap. Members were charged dues to gain benefits, but it quickly became evident that a larger funding mechanism was necessary to generate the funds necessary to provide for the needs of members. Sheriff Traeger became the SRA’s first president, but Biscailuz played a prominent role and together it was decided that a large picnic would be held to raise additional funds for the SRA’s coffers.
The first SRA picnic was held on Sunday September 28, 1924 at Reilly’s Ranch in Sand Canyon, northeast of Saugus. This event was so successful that a second one was held the following year on October 4, 1925 at Whiting Woods, west of Montrose. Over 2,500 people were in attendance at the second picnic that raised over $4,000 for the SRA. These barbeques came to be called “Gene’s big party,” because Biscailuz became their unofficial master of ceremonies. This notoriety added to Biscailuz’s popularity gained by the Barton incident and he seemed ready to take the next step.
In 1923, after Biscailuz’s return from Honduras, Traeger and he sat down to discuss their political futures. Traeger told Biscailuz that it was his intention to run for governor in 1926. When he did, he promised to throw his support to Biscailuz to replace him as Sheriff. Sheriff Traeger was a popular man in his own right. It was not overreaching to think he had a fair chance to be elected governor. His name was known in northern California because of his football fame at Stanford, and his first years as Sheriff were well-regarded in Los Angeles. In 1921 and 1922, he was also elected Grand President of the Native Sons of the Golden West, an important statewide organization at the time.
Bolstered by Traeger’s promise, friends of Biscailuz began putting together an unofficial election committee for him in 1925. Biscailuz: Elk, Mason, Native Son, and member of the exclusive Republican Jonathan Club, had many prominent political friends who wanted to see him as Sheriff. He was only eight years removed from being pushed for the Los Angeles City Council and he had done nothing but increase his prominence and social standing since then.
In early October 1925, Traeger had a change of heart about running for governor. At first it seemed that this would cause a break with Biscailuz. Biscailuz’s people had done a lot of work behind the scenes and an article in the Los Angeles Times suggested that it was Biscailuz’s intent to resign as Undersheriff and run for Sheriff against Traeger. Biscailuz was on vacation when Traeger made his announcement on October 5th that he was no longer in the Governor’s race and would seek reelection in 1926. He made it clear that it was his intention to talk with Biscailuz about the matter upon his return.
On November 16th, the two men made separate and then a joint statement pledging their support to one another. Traeger made it clear that the job of Undersheriff was Biscailuz’s as long as he wanted it. Biscailuz said that he was completely behind his boss’s campaign for another term. Both men said that their long friendship of eighteen years could not be broken by politics. All seemed well. But it was clear that Biscailuz felt blocked by Traeger. He supported his boss. He was loyal. But he was ambitious. He possessed that same competitive spirit that sent him on that long bike race out to Corona and back in 1900 and he wanted a chance to be the top man.
Biscailuz went back to being the loyal adjutant. There are suggestions that Traeger assured him that he would only do one more term before moving on to another office, probably Congress, but though there was not even a hint of rancor between the men, it is clear that Biscailuz felt he was ready to be head man.
On March 13th, 1928, and the days that followed, Biscailuz again showed his worth during one of the greatest disasters in state history. At three minutes before midnight on March 12th, the St. Francis Dam in the San Francisquito Canyon, forty miles north of downtown Los Angeles, collapsed. When the dam gave way the wall of water was as high as one hundred and twenty-five feet. Over 600 people were killed, though the exact number will never be known because migrant workers squatted in the Santa Clara River bed along the floodwater’s path. The water reached the ocean fifty-four miles away at Montalvo in Ventura County at 5:30 the next morning. By the time it arrived, the floodwaters were two miles wide and traveling at five miles an hour. Bodies were discovered as far away as the Mexican Border.
Minutes after the dam collapsed, Biscailuz received a phone call from the Sheriff’s Substation at Newhall. He and two aides promptly responded to the scene. There wasn’t a great deal to be seen that night, but by morning the scope of the calamity was evident. Biscailuz supervised the rescue and recovery effort which took ten days. At one point Arthur Jewell came up to him covered in mud. Jewell told Biscailuz that it was impossible to tell who was who because deputies were not wearing uniforms. Sheriffs departments were slower to recognize the importance of uniforms than police departments. Biscailuz told Jewell to remind him of that point later.
Biscailuz proved his worth again during this crisis and once again came to the attention of many. But as 1928 drew to a close, Traeger announced that it was his intention to seek reelection again in 1930. Biscailuz’s friends approached him and said that they felt that his prospects looked good if he chose to run against his chief, but Biscailuz was too loyal to consider this option. But politics in CityplaceSacramento produced a different opportunity.
Highway Patrol Superintendent
The various state and interstate highway systems and traffic laws are so common today that it is hard to believe that less than eighty years ago the organization of this vast network of roads and laws was still in its formative stages. The first California Bond passed for highways was in 1909. The Motor Vehicle Act of 1913 imposed laws requiring licenses and license plates. The Department of Motor Vehicles was established in 1915. Then the California Vehicle Act of 1923 allowed the Division of Motor Vehicles to hire inspectors and officers to enforce the act of 1915. This diffused group worked in the various counties and had a loose relationship with the various sheriffs departments. As the state’s highways continued to spread out and become more sophisticated, the need for a better organization to enforce traffic laws was apparent.
Clement C. Young was a Progressive Republican who was elected governor in 1926, the year that Traeger elected not to run. By the middle of his term he recognized that the defused California motor patrol did not meet the needs of the state. An organized state patrol was necessary. Governor Young held a meeting with Colonel Frank G. Snook, who was the chief of the State Motor Vehicle Department, to discuss the matter and it was decided that a state Highway Patrol was needed under the direction of a competent administrator. Colonel Snook enlisted B.B. Meek, head of the State Department of Public Works, in his search for the State Patrol’s first superintendent.
It was reported that Snook and Meek considered many candidates throughout the state, but Biscailuz was selected for the job. The Bynum and Jones biography of Biscailuz contends that Snook did not want Biscailuz as the Highway Patrol’s first superintendent. They wrote that it was Meek who visited Biscailuz at his home in Santa Monica without Snook to see if the Undersheriff was interested in the job. Biscailuz then traveled to Sacramento with Arthur Jewel, his good friend and confidant, for a meeting with Governor Young. Bynum and Jones said that Snook referred to Biscailuz as “that damn Mexican,” and harbored a grudge against him mainly because Biscailuz was a southern Californian and not part of the Sacramento inner circle. This sentiment was supposedly shared by others in Sacramento and would later be used against Biscailuz when the political winds there changed.
There was not even a hint of this alleged animosity in Governor Young’s official announcement. He said that Meek and Snook acted in concert in the selection process. Given that Snook was the chief of the State Motor Vehicle Department, and technically Biscailuz’s boss, it seems odd that the governor would send Meek on an end run around him. Governor Young declared in his statement announcing the selection of Biscailuz:
Although many of those considered are men of outstanding ability, Mr. Biscailuz was selected because of his fine personal qualities and the excellent public service rendered for the past twenty-two years in the Sheriff’s office of CityplaceLos Angeles. I am convinced that he is the ideal man to carry out the policy which is being inaugurated in our State Division of Motor Vehicles.
Governor Young’s statement went on to add that Biscailuz did not apply for the position and consented to give up his job as Undersheriff in Los Angeles, “only when it was shown that he could render a real public service in helping to bring about a happier and closer contact between the traveling public and our State Highway Patrol.”
Young and Snook wanted a patrol that would rigorously enforce the laws but would also be seen as there to help motorists, not terrorize them. The various county patrols earned a reputation for lying in wait in speed traps and then pouncing on unsuspecting motorists. This was an image that they wanted changed and one that Biscailuz was eager to alter.
At the time Biscailuz assumed the role of Superintendent of the Highway Patrol on August 1st, 1929 his resume was already impressive. In addition to his twenty-two years of service on the Sheriff’s Department, he was a graduate of the USC School of Law. He was then serving as the president of the State Sheriffs’ and Undersheriffs’ Association. He was the president of both the Sheriffs’ Relief Association and of the Acacia Masonic Club of Los Angeles. He was a past Exalted Ruler of the Santa Monica Elks’ Club and he was a past president of the Native Sons of the Golden West.
The job he faced was a daunting one. What Biscailuz inherited was a diffused system where each of the fifty-seven California counties had their own county motor patrol squads. These squads were, for the most part connected, to the various county sheriffs’ departments. This may be one reason why Biscailuz was selected and not someone like August Vollmer, legendary Chief of the Berkeley Police Department, who Biscailuz greatly admired. Biscailuz was already well known and regarded by the sheriffs in the state and working diplomatically with each of them was a must if this absorption of personnel within their jurisdiction was to proceed smoothly.
This theme was stressed by Colonel Snook at a meeting in Los Angeles on August 28th in front of thirteen newly selected captains of the patrol. At this meeting the organization of the force was announced as well as manner in which state officers were to behave and how they were going to be trained. Biscailuz and Snook informed the men that the state was to be divided into four districts: Southern; Coast Central; Inland Central and Northern. A chief was assigned to command each district and a captain to command each county. But officers within each county were free to cross county lines to do their job. The state’s borders were to be better manned and improved checking stations were announced as well as way stations for drives across the desert.
Biscailuz felt that it was at the state’s borders where people gained their first impression of California and he wanted men there who would, “give the motorist a welcome and supply him with helpful information.” To this end Biscailuz also announced the “doom of the arrogant, dictatorial highway motor officer.” The emphasis was to be placed on being courteous and dignified. Biscailuz wanted his men to be seen as helping the motoring public not haunting them by hiding behind every tree and sign waiting to pounce. He also felt that warnings were as appropriate a tool as tickets to alter public driving behavior. The chief goal set by Biscailuz and Snook was, “the elimination from public highways of the intoxicated driver,” and provide helpful attention to the “other 98 percent of motorists” throughout the state.
To assist officers in this task it was also announced that a central school would be established for the training of patrolmen and additional schools in the various districts would follow. This emphasis on the educated lawman was always important to Biscailuz.
In late September, Biscailuz flexed his muscles and tried to assert himself as the top lawman in the state. To this end his reach exceeded his grasp and the various police chiefs and sheriffs statewide pushed back against him. Biscailuz announced that all Highway Patrol cars would be white with a red star painted on the side, thus making them highly visible to all motorists. This was in accord with the California Vehicle Act of 1929. That act stipulated that, “every officer, when on duty for the purpose of enforcing the…act, shall be dressed in a full distinctive uniform,” and shall not, “use an automobile for patrolling public highway in the performance of such duty, unless such automobile is painted a distinctive color…” The act stated that officers not in uniform or in a marked car “shall be incompetent as a witness” in any charge involving the speed of a vehicle. The act also defined what an “authorized emergency vehicle” was. This provision mandated that they be, “owned and operated by a police or fire department.” In many ways, this was the most onerous part of the law for state municipalities.
To enforce this law, Biscailuz decreed that all police cars in the state were to be painted white with a red star. Glendale Police Chief J.D. Fraser, for one, stated flatly that his agency would not adhere to this decree. The law stated that this mandate determining the color of police cars only pertained to vehicles used to enforce speeding laws and was not applicable to “authorized emergency vehicles… when such vehicles are being operated in the chase or apprehension of violators of the law.” Fraser rejected Biscailuz’s efforts to push the law further. Biscailuz had enough on his hands organizing the Highway Patrol without drawing the wrath of sheriffs and chiefs, so the matter was not pursued.
By November 1st, 1929 there were 30 automobiles and 275 motorcycles in service. In many counties, like Los Angeles, the motorcycle was the primary tool of the motor officer and remains the preferred tool of most today. Biscailuz hoped to have 500 men in the CHP by March 1930, but this number depended on the smooth transition of county officers to state control. He also announced that all officers’ uniforms would be two-tone to distinguish them from other policemen in the state. He reiterated that, “the highway motor patrol is designed primarily with a view to being of service to the motoring public… Safety on the highways and assistance to the public are two cardinal laws of the organization.”
Officers were to be rewarded not for the number of tickets issued but for the reduction of accidents in their assigned patrol areas. In 1930, the first training academy was established on the state fair grounds in Sacramento and classes on laws, traffic patterns and courtesy were begun to assist officers in carrying out the superintendent’s mandate. Biscailuz traveled the state speaking with all of his men to encourage them. Morale was high and within a year the CHP was doing what Governor Young asked. Traffic accidents were down and the public seemed pleased with the organization.
In November 1930, California elected a new governor. Longtime San Francisco Mayor James “Sunny Jim” Rolph was in. Biscailuz, ever the loyal follower, supported Governor Young in the primary in his reelection bid against Rolph. When Rolph won the primary and later the election there was no civil service law to protect him this time. Ever the friend of the press, Biscailuz used a San Francisco newspaperman to sound out Governor-elect Rolph on his opinions regarding the current Superintendent of the CHP. It was reported to Biscailuz that Rolph’s reply was unprintable. Biscailuz realized that his time in Sacramento was short and some of the political sharks, like Colonel Snook, who were not fond of Governor Young’s appointment of him in the first place, began to circle. Biscailuz submitted his letter of resignation before Snook could have the satisfaction of asking for it.
On January 9th, 1931, Biscailuz started south for Los Angeles. E. Raymond Cato of the Los Angeles Police Department was named to replace him. Cato and he knew each other and he suggested that Biscailuz drive south in his official car so that the two men could meet and make a formal transfer. This was a kind gesture on Cato’s part and it permitted Biscailuz to be honored by the men who served under him for the past year and a half. He received an official escort as he entered each new CHP patrol jurisdiction.
In his year and half as CHP Superintendent, Biscailuz had much to be proud of. The agency was organized and now had almost four hundred officers. Morale was high and highway patrolmen were doing what Governor Young asked them to and what the Vehicle Act of 1929 prescribed. There was a bit of irony in the fact that despite Biscailuz’s ties to Los Angeles County it did not surrender control of its motor squad and traffic control jurisdiction until 1932, but Biscailuz returned to his home in Santa Monica with few regrets. He did not stay unemployed long.
Two days after Biscailuz returned from Sacramento he received a call from Harry Carr. Carr was an associate editor of the Los Angeles Times who wrote a popular column called The Lancer. Carr suggested that Biscailuz come by his office for a chat. Biscailuz, out of work and at that moment wondering how he was going to provide for his family, had nothing better to do so he took Carr up on his offer. When Biscailuz arrived he found that Carr was not alone. Also present were Kyle Palmer, the paper’s political editor and kingmaker and Ralph Trueblood Times’ editor. Biscailuz was sitting in rather august company. The four men discussed Biscailuz future. The possibility of a job as goodwill ambassador and greeter at the Mexican Border for the Southern California Automobile Club was proposed. Biscailuz financial situation was such that he actually entertained the idea. But within a few days the four met again and another offer was laid in front of him. Would he consider a return to his old job as Undersheriff?
In the sixteen months that Biscailuz was Highway Patrol Superintendent Traeger tried two different men as Undersheriff. Chief Criminal Deputy R.H. Harry Wright filled the role from August 1929 until May 1930 then he Traeger gave the position to Frank De War. It was suggested that there was some dissention in the sheriff’s office while Biscailuz was gone and morale was low. Biscailuz took his old job back only on the condition that something could be done for Dewar. The eagerness to have Biscailuz back was so great that the position of Chief Deputy Sheriff was created for De War by the Board of Supervisors.
Given the powers at work getting Biscailuz his old job back it seems likely that a number of back room deals and promises made. It was no secret by this point that Traeger aspired to higher office. Being Undersheriff again placed Biscailuz in the ideal position to succeed Traeger should he leave. The Los Angeles Times announced his return as Undersheriff on February 10th. According to that account, Undersheriff Biscailuz was to serve in a public relations capacity while the De War handled all “Sheriff’s office activities.” Biscailuz and De War were to assume their duties on March 12th. This arrangement lasted until De War was tragically killed on January 29th, 1932 when the aircraft he was traveling in crashed into the Tehachapi Mountains on a return flight from Bakersfield, where he was investigating a kidnapping case. The position of Chief Deputy Sheriff was abolished upon his death.
Biscailuz toiled again as Undersheriff for twenty-one months. In June 1931, he was instrumental in the creation of the Juvenile Bureau of Crime Prevention, the first of its kind in any sheriff’s department in the country. This organization was designed to divert youths into more healthy programs and away from mischief that would lead to criminal activity. This program was decades in advance of other youth intervention programs of its kind.
When De War’s plane was lost in 1932, Biscailuz led a search party that toiled for days in search of it. He realized that the Department needed a coordinated search and rescue team as well as a better response from the aero detail. These were both changes that he quickly implemented as sheriff.
In 1932, the Olympic Games came toLos Angeles. Prominent Los Angeles businessman William May Garland was at work for over twelve years making the Los Angeles Olympics a reality. Garland was a friend of Biscailuz’s and the Undersheriff served on the Olympic Committee. The 1932 Los Angeles Olympics were a rousing success and actually finished in the black despite fears that the Depression and Los Angeles’ remote location in the world at the time would prove disastrous. Once again Biscailuz’s name was attached to a popular and successful civic venture.
The Olympics concluded on August 14th. On August 30th Biscailuz political fortune changed again. It was on that day that Sheriff Traeger won the Republican Primary for the 15th Congressional District. On November 8th he won the general election. Traeger would not be become a Congressman until the 73rd Congress was sworn in on March 4th, but he did not intend on remaining Sheriff until then. He told the Board of Supervisors on November 25th he was willing to resign immediately if they appointed Biscailuz as his replacement.
By the time Traeger presented this proposal to the Board they had already received thousands of signatures urging them to appoint Biscailuz to succeed Traeger. The first of those came from Santa Monica, where Biscailuz lived. On November 15th, Geoffrey F. Morgan, vice-president of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, presented a petition with over 4,000 signatures. Other petitions followed.
It seemed logical given Biscailuz’s accomplishments in Sacramento, on the Sheriff’s Department and within the community, that the Board would appoint him Sheriff to complete Traeger’s unexpired term. But the Board seemed a bit put off by being pressured into making this decision. Traeger formally informed the Supervisors of his intentions to resign at their meeting on November 28th. The resignation was to take effect on a day that they saw fit. The Supervisors did not want to appear pressured to appoint Biscailuz so they proposed temporarily appointing him to a ninety “Acting Sheriff” position at his old Undersheriff’s pay while they debated the issue. County Counsel yMattoon upset these plans by telling them that there was no legal authority to do this. If they did not appoint a new sheriff upon Traeger’s resignation, County Coroner Nance would be compelled to oversee the Sheriff’s Department until an appointment was made. There was also a feeling among some citizens that the Sheriff’s Department had not done enough to deal with gambling, vice and liquor problems in the county and since Biscailuz was Undersheriff he was seen as part of this failure.
Reverend Gustav Briegleib, Chairman of the Los Angeles County Prohibition Board of Strategy, addressed the Board. His committee was willing to give Biscailuz a chance, but they expected more action from the Sheriff’s Department. More petitions on Biscailuz’s behalf were submitted and the names of three other candidates for the position were also submitted: Charles H. Kelley, Chief of Police of Pasadena; Al Sittel, United States Marshal; and I. B. English, Chief of Police of Huntington Park.
Despite the advice of County Counsel Mattoon, the Board accepted Traeger’s resignation and made it effective December 1st and then appointed Biscailuz to be Acting Sheriff for ninety days. Two days later they met again on the matter. After County Counsel Mattoon reemphasized that their was no legal authority to appoint Biscailuz to be Acting Sheriff, it was decided to appoint Biscailuz to the remaining two years of the term, but not before he pledged that he would do his utmost to make whatever improvements he could within the Department to address the concerns of the Board and the community. The Board then voted unanimously to make Biscailuz Sheriff. He was sworn into office approximately 100 feet from where his grandfather William Warren, was gunned down in 1870.
Accolades poured in as Biscailuz took office. The account in the December 1932 issue of The Police Officer and Police Reporter was typical. It called him “Our Gene” and “the most popular man in the county.” But Biscailuz had work to do. The criticisms of the Sheriff’s Department that caused the Supervisors to delay their vote in his favor lingered. He quickly set to work to address the Department’s problems while placing his stamp on the office.
To assist him he chose his longtime friend and colleague Arthur C. Jewell as his Undersheriff. Jewell was long used to playing Watson to Biscailuz’s Holmes. Jewell lacked Biscailuz’s creativity and vision, but he possessed similar administrative skills and a similar capacity for loyalty.
In an article written by Biscailuz in The Police Officer and Police Reporter the same month that it sang his praises, the new Sheriff put his finger on the problem that he and his Department faced, the Depression. An increase in crime and vice followed the economic gloom that engulfed the nation. To Biscailuz, “the present day lawman has his task definitely laid down before him… He bears a great responsibility in the social and political set-up of the country and it rests upon his shoulders to prepare and qualify himself as thoroughly as possible to satisfactorily handle his important assignment.” Biscailuz set about ensuring that his personnel had just what they needed to accomplish this objective.