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  Police Department

Chula Vista Police Department History

This history of the Chula Vista Police Department - while not complete in all details - is contained within the minutes of the City Council meetings from the year 1911 to 1956. Many events and changes took place during this 45 year period that we were unable to incorporate into this factual report."Our sincere wish is that the progress of the past will be the incentive for the future."

Unknown writer - Chula Vista Police Department / March 1956

The birth of a new city is, and has always been, an interesting event. Such an event took place on October 17, 1911 when the little CVPD Photo community to become known as Chula Vista, CA incorporated, taking its first steps toward becoming an independent city. A standing committee, under the supervision of a Board of Trustees, was organized and maintained for the purpose of establishing and enforcing a Code of Public Health and Morals. This was the first move to set up a form of law enforcement.

On November 28, 1911 Darwin Black was appointed City Marshal, and by this action, became the new city's first law enforcement officer. With a new officer appointed, it was necessary that a code of laws (or in this case ordinances) be adopted.

On January 13, 1912, ordinance prescribing and designating "where persons sentenced to imprisonment for violation of any ordinance of the City of Chula Vista shall be imprisoned." (City of Chula Vista Ordinance No.4) The records fail to indicate the location of any place of incarceration, so we can only assume that the location was top secret or there were no violators to be incarcerated. City Marshal Black chose to abandon his career as a peace officer and resigned the position he held on February 23, 1912. If the duties of his office were as numerous, and the salary as little as the next few years indicate by the record, we are reasonably satisfied that Black resigned for a good reason. Mr. John Schussler was appointed on May 7, 1912 to fill Black's unexpired term at a salary of $25.00 per month. Schussler also decided he would never get rich this way and resigned the position on October 1, 1912. At this time, it seemed that with the growing city, it would be necessary to collect some taxes. Upon Schussler's resignation, Mr. C. A. Sumner was appointed City Marshal and Tax Collector.

On November 6, 1912, a resolution was passed which allowed "that in case a volunteer Fire Company be organized in this City; said Company to consist of not more than ten members beside the City Marshal (said City Marshal has now become Fire Chief also), the City will pay to each of such members the sum of $2 for every fire attended by him, provided (we knew there would be a catch in this somewhere) that such member shall have attended fire practice and drill, prior thereto, at least once a month, under the direction of the City Marshal. City Marshal Sumner convinced the powers that be, that help to carry out this extended program was needed and appointed H. G. Sumner as Deputy Marshal.

On April 11, 1914, City Marshal Sumner submitted his resignation, which was accepted on May 5, 1914. The Board of Trustees may have decided at this time that the position of City Marshal did not carry enough responsibility to fit the position and passed a resolution that after May 5, 1914, the City Marshal shall be "ex-officio custodian of the Fire House and Fire apparatus, also of election booths and other election supplies; he shall be ex-officio building inspector, and Electrical Inspector; for performing such duties of which, he shall be paid an amount monthly equal to the fees received by the City for building and electrical permits, in addition to the salary allowed by Ordinance." A telephone was at this time installed in the City Marshal's home to be paid for by the City.

A Deputy Marshal was appointed on September 1, 1914 to enforce the speed laws; as many complaints were being received concerning damage to the city streets due to excessive speed. (It seems, that 42 years later, the same problem (excessive speed and many complaints concerning speeding motorists plagues the police department, so progress has not changed some things.) Sumner resigned as City Marshal in 1914 and was replaced by William Barnhart. Marshal Barnhart was promptly burdened with the added responsibility of being named City Health Inspector, for which he was paid the additional salary of $15 per month.

The City Marshal was now vested with numerous, impressive titles, all of which apparently did nothing to encourage his continuance as a peace officer. Barnhart resigned his office and was replaced by M. C. Black on April 25, 1916. Black's tenure in office was also short lived, as he resigned on July 3, 1917; Mr. C. B. Kendall accepted the badge of office then, but soon decided he cared not to remain as a minion of the law and tendered his resignation April 2, 1918.

On May 7, 1918, F. H. Schraeder was appointed City Marshal. The old speeding problem came up again and Marshal Schraeder requested permission to employ a motorcycle officer to act with him and a deputy, to see if some of these Model T "hot rodders" could be stopped. After some discussion, it was decided that Schraeder could employ a deputy and pay him according to the number of convictions he secured. It would appear that this was the birth of what today is called a speed trap; a thing to be avoided. Schraeder also changed his mind about being a peace officer, resigned, and was replaced on October 5, 1920 by W. H. Lawrie.

On March 1, 1921, speeding must have been the paramount problem, because on that date, five motorcycle officers were employed. Marshal Lawrie had apparently worn out his stop watch on the Barney Oldfields racing over the City streets and requested the City replace it with a new one. An extra $20 was located tucked away in the City funds and Lawrie was given a new watch. Now, with a new stop watch, and five new motorcycle officers, a new era in law enforcement was about to begin.

Somewhere between October 5, 1920 and July 28, 1922, Lawrie lost his zest for law enforcement and was replace by Ollie Board, who promptly resigned on August 1, 1922. E. T. Vaughn followed by appointment on August 13, 1922. He was to be paid $100 per month for three months and $150 per month thereafter and was to furnish his own motorcycle. It was further decided that he would be furnished his gas and oil when necessary that he use his private automobile, be paid 12 1/2 cents per mile for such use. Vaughn was granted a $25 per month increase, as was his deputy. A short time later, salaries were again raised, bringing them to $225 per month.

In January of 1924 it was decided that prisoners confined in the City Jail were to be fed twice a day at a cost not to exceed 25 cents per CVPD Photomeal. It is difficult to believe that a meal could be purchased for 25 cents, considering the cost of a meal today. (Editor's note: Remember, this part of this article was written in 1956...imagine the cost of a meal today.) Vaughn resigned March 31, 1924, but completed his term of office by recommending that National Avenue be placed under a boulevard stop system with a 35 mph speed limit. Also, that motorcycle officers' salary be cut from $225 per month down to $175 per month.

On March 29, 1924, Sydney E. Clyne was appointed City Marshal at $150 per month and the city was to buy his gas and oil for his motorcycle and pay him 7 cents per mile for use of his automobile. (Somewhere we seem to have slipped backward instead of progressing during this period.) But then, on May 7, 1924, the Marshal and his Deputy were given raises up to $185 and $175 per month.
Things were looking up again. Further proof of this was evidenced when in October, the City Clerk was instructed to purchase two beds with mattresses for the use of two police officers who were to sleep in the City Hall building. A short time later, a telephone was installed in the Police Department. Several improvements and additions followed, such as the purchase of office equipment, an addition of a cell for women prisoners, the engaging of a Police Physician to examine persons arrested for being under the influence of liquor or narcotics, installation of red lights at Police Call Boxes, and other improvements. It is interesting to note, that in the record regarding the red lights at police call boxes, is an entry stating that a red light was needed at the call box at National Avenue and 'J' Streets, for the reason that the owner of a service station at that location complained that an officer remaining at that location drives his trade away.

June 6, 1933, the Police Commissioner advised the Council that the Tijuana Border gate was kept open at all hours, necessitating that police personnel work overtime in an attempt to properly police our streets and our City. Twenty three years later, we are still trying to cope with the same problem. (Editor's note: Again, remember this was written originally in 1956.)

On April 10, 1935 a Ford patrol car was purchased by the City, fully equipped, at a cost of $587.

In September of 1936, Mayor Rife suggested it would be well to give instructions to school children regarding safety rules and regulations. We can assume this was the beginning of a program of school safety education that was later to become one of the major activities of the Police Department. Several requests were made for additional police personnel during the next ten years, but very few additions were made. The title of Marshal was dropped and Mr. S. E. Clyne became Chief of Police. Between the year of 1929 and 1936, Chief Clyne terminated his employment and a Mr. Kelly was appointed Chief of Police. Police two-way radio equipment was installed in police cars and a direct communication system was set up between Chula Vista and San Diego. On December 7, 1936, Chief Kelly recommended to the City Council that Officer M. S. Taylor, who had been employed since November 5, 1929, be promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Kelly stated this was one method that tended to compensate men for their past years of service.

In December of 1942, Police Commissioner Dupree resigned as Police Commissioner to fill the position of Chief of Police, which was left vacant by Kelly, who entered the armed services.

October 1943 brought the advent of parking meters in Chula Vista. It was voted to give the meters a trial and Police Commissioner Timmons and Chief Dupree were instructed to determine the number needed and proper location.

In June of 1945, Kelly returned from service and was immediately appointed Chief of Police again. Six months later, Kelly resigned, giving as a reason the "Gestapo" methods that had been introduced by Dupree during Kelly's absence. Several accusations against councilmen were cast, to the effect that too much City business was carried on the sidewalks of the City. Chula Vista now had a City Manager, a Mr. Ray, who upon the resignation of Chief Kelly appointed Carl Feeney as acting Chief of Police at a salary of $250 a month. On November 13, 1945, Ray appointed M. S. Taylor as Chief of Police and Feeney to the rank of lieutenant.

On April 22, 1946, a request was made to the City Council by citizen L. H. Moore for additional policemen. This was granted May 13, 1946 when two additional policemen were hired at $185 per month.

On April 8, 1947, Thomas S. Lofthouse was appointed Chief of Police at a salary of $300 per month, and M.S. Taylor was installed in the position of captain. Lofthouse resigned during the annual Fiesta de la Luna in 1948 and Taylor again assumed temporary command of the department. Lofthouse requested authority to hire an extra foot patrolman at $200 per month for experienced and $185 for an inexperienced man. December 7, 1950, Bernard McCollum was appointed Chief of Police to replace Taylor.

McCollum later resigned on January 26, 1954 and again Captain Taylor became temporary Chief of Police. In May of 1954, E. B. Roberts was appointed Chief of Police, reporting for duty July 1st of that year. At this time, the Chula Vista Police Department personnel stood at 34 members. The rapid growth of the community was demanding more and more services of the Department and City Council action allowed several changes and additions to be made. Department personnel rose to a total of 44. The Animal Shelter (formerly under the direct supervision of a City Administrator) was placed under the supervision of the Chief of Police, adding two more members to departmental personnel.

Speeding and an increasing accident rate on Montgomery Freeway became a major problem and in July of 1955, six 1956 Interceptor Ford patrol units were purchased for the Traffic and Patrol Divisions of the department. The fact that revenue from court fines against violators went far beyond estimates fully justified the better and more efficient type of equipment. Officer Kelly, who had long worked as a juvenile officer was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and was assigned to supervise all juvenile activities.

A full time policewoman was approved by the City Council in 1955 and June Moeser became Chula Vista's first Policewoman. The CVPD Photodepartment was now comprised of seven sergeants, one Lieutenant, one Captain, and the Chief of Police. It became necessary to add one Lieutenant to coordinate the work of three growing patrol shifts. Virgil Seiveno, who had been serving in the capacity of Sergeant in the Detective Division, was successful in the Civil Service Examination and was appointed as Lieutenant of the Patrol Division.
The Chula Vista Police Department Reserve organization, in operation since 1949, began to grow by leaps and bounds. At this time (1956) the active register indicates some 45 members with several applications pending. An inactive list comprised of almost as many as are on the active list. All inactives are subject to call in cases of emergency, all operating under the State Civil Defense plan and under direction supervision of the Chief of Police.
The department started with one City Marshal in 1911 and grew, to a department consisting of 46 members in 1956, many changes in administration taking place during these years.

In the coming years, undoubtedly many more changes and additions will take place. A community progressing as rapidly as Chula Vista must realize that police problems increase correspondent with population increases, geographical changes, and national crime trends. Pre-war periods bring about increases in certain types of criminal activity due to uncertainty. Post-war periods bring a general increase in almost all crime categories.

The Chula Vista Police Department of today (1956) salutes those who in these past years combated the same elements we combat today, and by their efforts made it mandatory that today's police officer be a man well trained, well educated, physically fit, and capable of handling properly the most complex problems.


From other records, we have determined that James Quinn replaced E. B. Roberts as Chief of Police on July 9, 1957, giving the City of Chula Vista more than twenty different chiefs in its first 54 years.

On August 30, 1965, William J. Winters was hired as Chief of Police and remained in that office for over twenty-six years on January 13, 1992 Richard P. Emerson was hired as Chief of Police. In 2002, the department now boasts over 350 employees, including sworn, reserves, CSO's, PSO's Comm Op's, clerical, support, and management.

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