Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Another Mulligan

Walter Mulligan was a large man. He stood six foot two and weighed 230 pounds. Mulligan looked perfect for the position he held. On January 27, 1947, this cop of twenty years became Vancouver Chief of police.

Mulligan started on the force on April 21, 1927 with a long beat: he patrolled Broadway from Granville to Main. (Some reports say started out in Skid Road). Ten years after he began, Mulligan made detective and ten years after that, he became police chief. A great start to a career that ended in another ten years in scandal.

There was a lot going on in Vancouver in the late 1940s and a lot of opportunity for graft - bookies trolled beer parlours, private clubs and hotels collecting bets; there was after hour gambling and bootleggers thrived. Drinking alcohol in restaurants and nightclubs during this era was not allowed but patrons would smuggle booze in brown paper bags then pay high prices for ice and mix from proprietors who knew what was happening but chose to look the other way.

Don't think that Vancouver's new police chief was oblivious to these activities. Mulligan had been a favourite of Gerry McGeer - a former mayor of Vancouver. (Interesting fact: McGeer became mayor again three weeks before Mulligan was named chief.)Five months before Mulligan's appointment to chief, he had been named the head of the police department's newly formed Criminal Investigation Bureau. Walter Mulligan would have known not only what was happening but also who the major players were.

When Mulligan was made head of the Criminal Investigation Bureau, he jumped ahead of many officers with more experience and longer service and this would have caused resentment among some. And his appointment to chief would have caused more.

McGeer had been mayor once before - 1935-36 - and had been elected on an anti-crime platform, which he carried out. In his first week in office, 1,000 slot machines were confiscated. If Mulligan was McGeer's protege, as is thought by some, then McGeer would have been sorely disappointed in the man. However, McGeer passed away seven months after being elected and Mulligan's scandal happened years after.

1947 was an important year for Walter Mulligan since it was the year that he became chief. However, it is also an important year in the telling of the scandal. This was also the year that a Glasgow born named Jack Webster began his career with the Vancouver Sun. Webster would say in later years that this case made his career.

So you might be asking what did Walter Mulligan do and how was he brought down? What were the consequences of his actions? For that, you will have to wait until the next post.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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