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When his city becomes a haven for criminals, Captain Haines of the Homicide Bureau tells his men they must follow the law, and rejects the advice of Lieutenant Jim Logan to use rough tactics and forget red tape. Jim is ordered to meet a new associate at the airport, scientist J. G. Bliss, who surprises him by turning out to be a woman. Soon after, ex-convict Chuck Brown kills a man in a pool hall, and Jim is sent to investigate. Haines orders a dragnet that results in Chuck's identification, although he has an alibi. Because Chuck's cohorts had replaced the gun and the bullet-cracked window of his car, the police have no evidence on which to hold Chuck, and he is freed. Community leaders complain to the police commissioner that men like Chuck are hounded by police who never believe that an ex-convict will reform. Jim, intuitively knowing that Chuck is guilty, goes to his apartment, and during the ensuing fight Chuck falls from the window and is nearly killed. Despite being reassigned and demoted, Jim continues to investigate and learns that Chuck was involved with a group of racketeers known as the "junk dealer's trade association." R. E. Jamison, an honest junk dealer, learns that Chuck and his cohorts are selling scrap metal to enemy nations, but is killed before he can tell the police. Haines then takes up the case, which leads him to a pier where a ship is being loaded with smuggled guns. Captured by gang leader Ed Briggs, Haines is unaware that Jim is following the two confederates of the mob who murdered Jamison. Jim takes over the engine room, freeing Haines and Blake on the ship. After the police arrive, a gunfight rages until the gang runs out of ammunition. Jim is decorated and his methods are lauded, especially by J. G., whom he will marry.