File No. 819.1052/55

The Secretary of State to Minister Price

No. 242

Sir: Referring to previous correspondence relative to the disarmament of the Panaman police, you are informed that the Department has concluded, after careful consideration of the information before it, that the continued use of high-powered rifles by the police of the cities of Panama and Colon, or the storage of these rifles at any place easily accessible to the police, constitutes so great a source of danger that this Government finds it necessary to bring the matter once again in all earnestness to the attention of the Government of Panama.

As regards the assurance given by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in his note of November 12, 1915,3 that the police would not use these rifles in municipal service, the fact that the police appeared armed with these rifles during the fire which occurred in Panama city on January 12 last, has clearly shown how ineffectual have been these orders mentioned by Dr. Lefevre. Moreover, it is not necessary that the police of the cities of Panama and Colon should receive military instructions in the use of rifles, nor that arms of this character should be used for guarding prisoners, as shotguns are believed to be far more efficient for this purpose.

The Department, therefore, directs you to present a formal demand upon the Panaman Government for the immediate disarmament of the police within the cities of Panama and Colon, of high-powered rifles. You will also inform the Minister for Foreign Affairs that it would seem most advantageous that these rifles should be stored by the military authorities of the Canal Zone and held by them for delivery to the Panaman Government, in the event of any occurrence which would make the use of these rifles advisable in the opinion of both Governments.

If the military authorities of the Canal Zone, which you may consult in this connection, find no objection, a few of these rifles might be made available for the use of the guard of honor in the presidential palace at Panama.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
Frank L. Polk