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posted: 4/26/2012 3:17 PM

Arlington Hts. economized on law enforcement

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Directed to detour off Dunton Avenue onto Evergreen recently, we passed a corner house that had grown considerably since the last time we rounded that bend. I knew it already as a house that grew in stages.

When I interviewed Eleanor Dieball about 20 years ago, she told me that the house had been her grandmother's.

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"It was never a farmhouse. The first section was built 130 years ago, and the second 75 years ago," she said. Now it seemed to me there was a third substantial addition.

I interviewed Eleanor partly because her father, Arthur Dieball, was the first uniformed police officer in Arlington Heights.

On reflection, it occurs to me that the police department, like the Dieball house, grew by stages and never had enough money. Arthur Dieball was hired in October 1906 for $48 a month. As I recall, he had 10 children, including Eleanor, and couldn't make do.

Earlier keepers of the peace made a lot less.

When the town was incorporated in 1887, the village constable made no salary. According to Irene Larson in "The Chronicle of a Prairie Town," the constable got 10 percent of the dog taxes he collected at $1 per dog. And 50 cents for every dog he dispatched on which taxes had not been paid.

In 1905 when the village needed someone to curb rowdiness, Douglas McNab was hired to work from 7 to 11:30 p.m. For his trouble he was clobbered by thugs who struck him on the side of the head, knocking him to the ground. That's when Arthur Dieball was hired for $48 a month.

When Dieball moved on because the $48 didn't suffice, the town was left without a police officer. It made do with a marshal and three "special police." They were a considerable savings.

The marshal got $1 for every arrest followed by a conviction. The special police were paid $5 a month and $1 for every arrest followed by a conviction. A big part of their work was quelling disturbances and getting all the drinkers to go home when it was time for the bars to close.

The village shaved costs in other ways. When speeding became a problem in the 1920s, the police brought speeders into William F. Neumann's Barber shop on South Evergreen. The barber, who was also the justice of the peace, would leave his customers under their hot towels long enough to assign fines to the miscreants.

When the department bought a 1937 Ford, the money came from the slot machines in local taverns.

Daisy Daniels wrote in "Prairieville, U.S.A." that social conscience was at a low ebb during the Prohibition era and gambling was widespread in Arlington Heights.

She quotes a story from the Herald telling how Arlington businesses were free of gambling devices "about thirty minutes last Saturday." The word was out that all vending and slot machines should go into the back of the rooms.

"The word spread quickly, traveling faster than the detectives. Thirty minutes later word was flashed back that the lid was off' and the machines could safely move back. Reading between the 30 minutes, somebody must have 'kicked in.'"

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