June 15, 2009

Soapy Smith: Chief of Police?

"Soapy" Smith's desire to be Chief of Police of Alaska may be merely his expression of belief in the old idea that getting a thief to catch a thief is good detective policy. If there is any virtue in this scheme it follows that the bigger the first thief, the quicker the second will be caught. Then with "Soapy" in the former role there would be absolutely no show for escape. I have known "Soapy" for many years. There was never a queerer compound. He is genial and generous, enjoys a fight, pays his debts, gives his last dollar to whoever wants it and steals the first dollar the next man is rash enough to expose to view. I cannot regard it as probable he will attain the honor he seeks. He is asking too much. If the people in a community not beyond the vigilance committee period refrain from hanging him he should regard their consideration as a distinguished favor.
The San Francisco Call, February 27, 1898.

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