Historic Resource Study/Special History Study
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Internal Security

The Western Defense Command issued a proclamation on May 19 that designated all relocation centers, either established or projected, in any of the eight far western states as military areas subject to external military control. Under this proclamation, protective services around the exterior boundaries of each operating center were provided by a company of military police (See Chapter 13 of this study). Maintenance of security and order within reach center, however, was left largely in the hands of the evacuee residents working under the direction of WCCA and WRA internal security offices. [46]

Under the WCCA. The Internal Security Section, or camp police force, at Manzanar was originally organized under the WCCA. [47] Three Caucasian police officers were appointed who organized evacuee police into patrol units. For this work, volunteers were called for and more than 100 men and boys were recruited. Their only training was in routine patrol work, to which duties they were assigned under the supervision of the three Caucasian officers. Patrols were conducted over a 24-hour schedule, the men working on foot, while extra patrols were conducted by car and truck. By June 1, there were 14 Caucasian officers on the Manzanar police force, and the WCCA had plans to expand that number to some 40 men. The trucks used by the police were half-ton vehicles once used by the Civilian Conservation Corps. In addition, the police inspected all baggage of the newly arriving evacuees, and rechecked all persons and cars that entered or left the camp, duplicating the work of the military police. A jail was built at the rear of the main office in the police station, consisting of a room 20 feet square in which was installed a double tank rented from the sheriff of Inyo County.

Under the WRA.

The Police — As soon as the WRA took over Manzanar on June 1, 1942, efforts were undertaken to reorganize the camp police force on a more professional basis and active recruitment efforts were initiated to attract trained appointed personnel. Although a policy covering internal security at the centers was not issued by the WRA until August 24, the police department at Manzanar was "well on the road to organization prior to that date." By September the three Caucasian officers hired by the WCCA had either resigned or been terminated, and two new men were recruited by the WRA to replace them. On September 7, a Chief Internal Security Officer was appointed. At the time of his appointment, he was the "head instructor in the police school at Sacramento Junior College." Less than one week later, an officer from the Palo Alto Police Department took over duties as assistant to the chief. On October 20, a second assistant to the chief was appointed. He had served as an officer at Manzanar under the WCCA, and prior to that he had been a traffic officer in Santa Monica. On November 27, the Chief Internal Security Officer left the camp to become Acting National Director of Internal Security in Washington, D.C. The assistant chief at Manzanar was made Acting Chief of Internal Security. No more appointed personnel were employed on the Manzanar police force until after the "Manzanar Incident" on December 6.

The duties of the appointed internal security officers at Manzanar were based on Administrative Instruction No. 30, a WRA directive to all relocation centers issued on August 24, 1942. The instruction stated that internal security was the "responsibility of the Project Director." Each project was to have one or more "Caucasian internal security officers," but it was the intention of the WRA "to make as great a use of evacuee personnel as possible in providing internal security." The Chief Internal Security Officer under the direction of the Project Director, was to be responsible for "organizing, recruiting, training, and supervising an adequate internal police force." The force was responsible for enforcement "of regulations adopted by the Community Council and provisions of the federal, state and local laws or regulations specifically applicable to the relocation center." Under the policy statement, the internal security force at Manzanar was responsible for handling misdemeanor cases, while felonies were to be turned over to outside authorities. [48]

In September 1942, when the newly-hired WRA Caucasians officers took over, there were more than 100 evacuee men on the camp's internal security payroll. These men remained on duty during the "changeover," when the section was reorganized as a "regular police department." In keeping with the policy of self-government which the WRA was introducing, a chief of police with two assistant chiefs, a captain, a desk sergeant, and a patrol sergeant for each shift were elected. The entire department cast votes for the chief and his assistants, and each shift voted for its own captain and sergeant. All orders to the evacuee policemen were issued through the evacuee chief or his assistants who were responsible to the Chief Internal Security Officer.

To aid in the selection of "suitable candidates" for the police force, the WRA administered observation tests to the evacuee policemen. Those failing to pass the tests were terminated. By December 6, the number of evacuee police had declined to 81.

Under the WRA, patrols of the center were conducted on foot, with "check-ups by the patrol sergeant in a car." Constant patrol was maintained "in sections" of the camp "that had the most trouble and violations."

A training program for the evacuee police was organized, and a school was started on November 1, 1942. Among the first training classes provided were sessions on criminal investigation, description of persons and property, report writing, traffic procedure, and patrol work. The classes, presented on a periodic basis, averaged 15 to 20 minutes in length, and followed "the common practice used in police schools." First, there would be a lecture, followed by a hypothetical case based on material covered in the lecture. This was followed up by discussion and correction. Where possible, an attempt was made to appeal to the students' interest by combining actual field work with the subject covered. A beneficial, but unscheduled, test of the training program resulted from a murder and a suicide committed in the center during the fall.

An evacuee officer assisted in giving the lectures. As many of the men could not follow lectures in English, an evacuee officer, selected as an interpreter, repeated them in Japanese. Examinations were set periodically, and many of the papers were written in Japanese. These papers were translated into English by an evacuee and graded by the instructor.

Arrests were made by both appointed personnel and evacuee policemen. No arrest was made unless a person was "caught in the act" or unless a warrant had been issued. Warrants were not issued without a complete investigation, and "a high degree of certainty that the person named in the warrant was the true offender." As a result, the person charged "generally pleaded guilty" and was ready "for punishment." There are no records of persons charged being found "not guilty."

Written reports were prepared by the officers making the case investigation. Evacuee police were allowed to write their own reports, with the appointed personnel assigned to follow up on the cases to see that they had been handled properly.

The first means of identification used by police in Manzanar was an armband with the word "Police" painted on it. While this served as a temporary means of identification, it "was not adequate when the officer had to work in crowds or in the dark." Accordingly, police uniforms were ordered from the Manzanar sewing factory in November 1942. The uniforms consisted of "a wine-colored shirt and green pants." Caps were ordered from "a mail-order house," and badges were purchased from a Los Angeles company. Because the workers in the sewing factory "lacked experience," many of the police uniforms "fitted poorly, but bad as they were the men were glad to get them."

The Program: Evacuee Attitudes Toward Cooperation with Police — At the start of the internal security program under the WRA, the evacuee population was reluctant to make reports to the police. At times, reports would leak back to the police department after incidents occurred. This meant that fights could take place or gangs could create disturbances without fear of their activities reaching the police until well after the incident. The evacuees' refusal to report "arose, at least in part, out of an inborn fear of the law," as well as "fear of retaliation from fellow evacuees."

Throughout 1942 the police department fought "a losing battle." Arrests were made, fights broken up, and disturbances quieted, but these incidents were "mostly cases the police had 'run across.'" A number of persons were brought before the Judicial Committee for trial and punishment, and long jail sentences were imposed, but the disturbances and thefts continued. Thirty days in the Manzanar jail for minor disturbances and as high as six months in the county jail for theft was "the rule."

Manzanar's original jail, located inside the police station with windows opening on a road, was "an easy place for prisoners' friends to visit and to pass articles through its windows." Instead of being a location for punishment and detention, it became "a spot in which to rest and have fun."

Nevertheless, because of the long sentences imposed by the "Project court," a feeling of "resentment against the police and the judicial Council" mounted among the residents. Policemen were looked down upon and were referred to as "dogs" and "stool pigeons." Several police were "beaten up" when off duty. Cooperation from the residents was lacking, and when the police worked with the FBI and other outside law enforcement agencies, "popular feeling ran especially high," thus preventing law enforcement from being "an effective reality."

The Program: Gangs — Several gangs of boys operated continuously in Manzanar during "1942. One of these was the "Terminal Island" group, made up of boys and young men who had come from the working class neighborhoods of that island community. "If an insult, real or fancied, was leveled against any member of this gang, immediate action was taken by the rest of them." The Terminal Island boys. as they came to be called, "lacked the polish of polite society having been schooled in fishing boats and fish canneries." As a result, they were not "ordinarily invited to the social gatherings that were held in the Center." Consequently, a group of the Terminal Island boys "would often crash the gate at dances and parties given by more select groups." Disturbances and fights "arose when the attempt was made to stop their gate-crashing." While no fights occurred between the police and the Terminal Islanders "as a group, most of the evacuee police feared them."

To improve relationships, a series of meetings was held during 1942 between the police department and the leaders of the Terminal Island families "through the medium of some Terminal Island men who were on the police force." A clubroom was established for the Terminal Island boys, where "entertainments" were planned for them. Although the clubhouse helped matters, the Terminal Island boys continued to resent other groups for not giving them invitations to their "regular entertainments." When the gate-crashing continued, sponsors of other dances were urged to invite the Terminal Islanders. The "suggestion was acted upon at a school dance, with results to be expected — the boys attended, stood around a while, and left without further disturbance." Upon the recommendation of the police department, an educational program was initiated for the Terminal Island boys in which they were "taught to dance and to conduct themselves acceptably at social gatherings" with beneficial results,

Older members of the police department held meetings with "the old men of the Terminal Island group and placed on them the responsibility for maintaining peace among their people." After these meetings were completed, "very little trouble emerged." The boys gradually accepted their responsibility and assisted in maintaining peace among other gangs. As a result of these efforts, during the December riot, the Terminal Island boys were "one of the most cooperative groups" with law enforcement authorities. Instead, "in the interval that followed the "incident and until peace was declared in the Center, the Terminal Islanders maintained picket lines around their block and prevented others from passing through except on essential business."

The so-called "Dunbar Gang," a well-organized group of boys and young men primarily from West Los Angeles, posed more serious problems for the police. This gang had been operating in the Los Angeles area for some years prior to evacuation. Many of its members, which ranged in age from 15 to 24, had Los Angeles police records ranging from petty theft to burglary. Many gang members were at Manzanar "without a family or family training." The gang managed "to get room assignments together in one of the barracks."

As early as May 1942, members of this gang were brought before the WCCA's Judicial Committee for crimes ranging from petty theft to burglary and malicious mischief. In June some were convicted of petty theft and placed on probation by the committee. In November, three were sentenced to six months in the Manzanar jail for breaking windows and "other malicious mischief." The boys were noisy in their quarters, and when fights occurred in the center, some of "their number were sure to be around." When some of Dunbar Gang left on furlough to work on farms in Montana during the summer of 1942, one was caught and convicted of burglary while away from the center.

After the police failed to obtain cooperation from this group, they requested the assistance of the Project Director. The strength of the gang was broken by depriving it of its leadership. Several of the ringleaders were sent to Boys' Town, while others were sent to jobs in the Middle West. After removal of the leaders, the remaining members were called to the police station and placed on probation under the direct supervision of families in the camp. After these events, "very little subsequent action against them became necessary."

The Program: Juvenile Delinquency — Most cases of juvenile delinquency, which "remained at a minimum throughout the operation of the Center," were handled by the Welfare Section at Manzanar. Police notified the Welfare Section of problems and turned cases over to for handling. If it became necessary for a juvenile to appear before the Judicial Committee for a hearing, the session was closed with the parents present to assist in development of "corrective plans."

The Program: Recreational Groups — In their crime prevention efforts at Manzanar, the police assisted community activities directed toward "guiding the young people of the Center." During 1942, the police, under the guidance of the WRA, began taking "a long-range view of the situation" and "gaining the cooperation of the residents as a whole and the young people in particular." Recreational programs designed for youth will be described later in this chapter.

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Last Updated: 01-Jan-2002