Two months after Pearl harbor, New Castle’s chief of police, Willis McMullen, issued a statement to inform the citizens of the town that “War is here” and that, consequently, they should refrain from bothering the police with trivial complaints.
“Enemy aliens admittedly are scattered across the United States. It may be that some of them would be saboteurs and may attempt to cripple industry or public utilities,” he declared. If police had to take time out from their multitudinous duties to deal with unimportant matters, he explained, they might be unable to go into action swiftly should any untoward enemy activity take place in the town, which might result in loss of life or the destruction of property that might be vital to the war effort.
Chief McMullen pointed out that such calls as “dogs running loose”, “whether or not the streets are ashed” and “the time of day or night” were not important police functions during war time.
“Let us co-operate for the benefit of all concerned,” he continued. “Our boys are fighting in all sections of the world. We, back home, must keep essentials going to them.”
McMullen’s statement concluded by reminding the town that the enemy could strike anywhere, at any time. “Pearl Harbor was an instance. We were attacked without warning. An enemy doesn’t ‘brass band’ his effort. Let us settle down and eliminate unimportant things.”
However, that night, 4 February, 1942—as US fighter planes engaged Japanese bombers in combat over Java, as British troops fought a losing battle to keep the Japanese out of Singapore, and as columns of Axis vehicles rolled through Libya—Charles J Krueger disappointed Chief McMullen when he forced the police to divert their attention from their vital war-time duties in order to arrest him on a charge of assault and battery.
Luckily, enemy aliens did not choose that night to launch an attack on New Castle. The town’s industrial plants remained fully operational for the rest of the war.Sources: New Castle News, 4 February, 1942, “Don’t ‘Phone Trivial Complaints To City Police Headquarters”