Communist Might Have Infiltrated Cecil County Law Enforcement, Congressman Suspects in 1947

congressman j parnell thomas

Congressman J. Parnell Thomas, Source: Library of Congress

Congressman J. Parnell Thomas, the chairman of the Un-American Activities Committee, began suspecting that Communists might have infiltrated the ranks of Cecil County’s Law Enforcement community one autumn day in 1947.  As the New Jersey Representative with plenty of experience investigating all sorts of high profile Hollywood radicals, the naturally suspicious politician knew when he had stumbled onto an infiltration threat.

Representative Thomas’ reputation as an anti-Communist crusader grew in May 1947 once Republicans took the reins of Congress for the first time in 16-years when he was put in charge of the House Committee on Un-American Activities.  This moved him from being an obscure Bergen County politician to national prominence as the zealous chairman ramped up investigations of the Hollywood film industry, seeking to expose radical infiltration of the Screen Writer’s Guild.  He also knew that Reds had penetrated the labor movement, the government, political parties, the press, radio, schools and colleges, churches and social organizations.

Five months later, the powerful Congressman was well-known nationally because of his zeal in providing leadership to uncover subversion and espionage.  So, with his experience in investigating all sorts of radical activities, he knew he had come across something when Maryland State Trooper Stanley Kaplow arrested him for speeding outside of Port Deposit.

In a letter to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, Thomas said he was driving about 30 mph in a 50 mph zone when he noticed the patrol car.  Nonetheless he lowered his speed more, but Trooper Kaplow lowered his.  Then the Congressman raised his speed to see what would happen but the officer still followed him.

Having had his investigators shadow plenty of questionable types, he became suspicious of the trailing police car.  In fact, he indignantly stopped and confronted Trooper Kaplow, demanding that the patrolman stop trailing him.  To this, the officer replied he was going to continue and for ten miles he did.  “As far as I could find out, he did it for just one reason and that was to annoy me,” Representative Thomas reported.

This touched off the congressman’s suspicions that there was something :dire and foreboding to the action of this officer.  Probably he was an Un-American.”  So he asked the Maryland Commissioner of Motor Vehicles for an official investigation.   The Maryland authorities weren’t too worried about Trooper Kaplow’s loyalty and possible un-Americanism for they appear to have done nothing.

Stanley I Kaplow was a member of Maryland’s first postwar class of state troopers, graduating from the police academy in April 1947.  When he retired as deputy superintendent of the Maryland State Police,  holding the rank of Colonel.  He died in 1988.

The Congressman resigned from Congress in January 1950, after being charged with padding the payroll.

robert e stripling and j parnell thomas examine film

Robert E. Stripling and J. Parnell Thomas examine films
to be shown to the House Un-American Activities Committee. Source: Spartacus Educational

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