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
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 meal.
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
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
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
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.
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,