Friction and Dissention in City Government and Department the Cause —Subordinate Officer Commits Suicide

CLARENCE CRAW, chief of the Long Beach, Cal., fire department, has applied for retirement on pension. This was the result of friction and dissension among city officials and the officers of the fire department. Action of the City Council on the request and the appointment of Chief Craw’s successor, has not been announced.

Chief Craw joined the Long Beach department more than twenty years ago, being made the department head ten years, ago upon the death of the then Chief Shrewsbury. Battalion Chief John B. Buchanan, a veteran of the department, also announces his intention to apply for a pension, giving ill health as the cause of his action. Hugh R. Etzell, fire prevention chief, is another who expresses himself as about to leave the fire department. Perhaps the most important feature of the municipal upheaval is the severance of his connection with the city firemen’s pension fund of Manager-elect Charles Henderson. It is the intention of the City Council to fill up the ranks of the commissioned officers as soon as possible.

Battalion Chief Jay B. Taylor committed suicide recently because of the constant friction among officers of the department. His body was found in one of the city parks to which he had driven alone in his automobile after attending a meeting with Chief Clarence Craw and other members of the fire department. Taylor had been missing for about ten hours, and not appearing for duty a hunting party went out to look for him. He had left a letter addressed to his wife and family, the contents of which left no doubt that it was a case of self-destruction. According to facts brought out, there had been considerable dissension going on in the department in which Taylor played an important part, but no one mistrusted that he had been overwrought by the incident. In his letter he declared that he had been “double-crossed” and that he had been guilty of “doublecrossing” others in the department, and intimated that he had suffered remorse for personal acts which had so preyed upon his mind that destruction by his own hand was the only relief. Taylor, who is survived by a widow and several children, had been a member of the Long Beach fire department for more than twenty years, and was eligible to retirement on pension.


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