January 12, 1914: Duluth Police department under investigation by grand jury 

On this day in Duluth in 1914, newspapers announced that a St. Louis County Grand Jury was investigating the Duluth Police Department on a variety of charges and would soon subpoena forty witnesses. County Attorney Warren Greene conducted the interviews, including those of Chief Chauncy Troyer and Duluth News Tribune reporter Jackson Darrimore. The DPD had been operating under the instruction of Public Safety Commissioner John Hicken, who used highly controversial methods to gather evidence and make arrests. In the end, six members of the force were punished. Lt. John Dreennan and Patrolman William Riedel were dismissed for “misconduct and general incompetence,” Lt. Herman Fristz and Detective Herman Toewe were suspened, and patrolmen Nelson Perry and Alrich Youngberg received “such treatment as the commissioner may deem best.” Sargent Weber was reprimanded for beating a drunken prisoner, and patrolman Henry Bronillette for “showing a lack of tact and good sense.” Hicken’s plan to reinstate police officers who were “addicted to liquor” after giving them “the liquor cure” was declared improper policy. The department got off easy. The heart of the investigation was to see if Duluth police had protected gambling operations or collected protection money from prostitutes.The investigation claimed that the officer merely “borrowed” money from the prostitutes and always paid them back.

W. A. Hicken. (Image: Duluth Public Library)