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Mifflin’s Police Force Becomes Farce, Taxpayers Irate As Cash Box Runs Dry

A detail of a 1926 photo of the Duquesne Police Department.

[ This article originally appeared in the August 26, 1933 Pittsburgh Press, and the May 2016 edition of the Mifflin Township Historic Messenger newsletter. ]

Mifflin Township’s police force slept late today.

Twelve hours a day is a long time to work and there isn’t an NRA code for police officers. There wasn’t much sense in getting up, anyhow, Chief J. J. Crawford and Patrolman Andrew Butko, his force, figured.

The township commissioners informed them yesterday that there wasn’t a police force any more because there wasn’t any money to pay the salaries. Irate taxpayers pointed to the new Municipal Building and pointed out that any township which can build a structure such as that should be able to maintain a police force. In fact, they asked, what good is a municipal building if you don’t have a police force to go with it.

C. J. Hoffman, the commissioners’ clerk, said the township was without a police force. He said that Albert Oliver, the “night sergeant,” was it.

Mifflin residents replied: “He isn’t a sergeant; he’s the Municipal Building janitor.” A visit to police head-quarters today, however, failed to reveal either a janitor or a police force. There was a small, tow-headed boy there, who was asked if he was the police department. He said “Naw,” and promptly left. It was Chief Craw-ford, incidentally, who was responsible for the conviction of Mrs. Mary Chalfa and Mrs. Anna Allas, Munhall women who revived an old peasant custom of poisoning unwanted relatives, but moderned it by previously taking out insurance policies on their victims.

Both women now are serving murder sentences, county detectives, who at first laughed at Chief Crawford’s charges, finally having been aroused to an investigation which led to the pair’s conviction.

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