History of The SBPOA
SAN BERNARDINO POLICE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The San Bernardino Police Historical Society was formed with the primary mission of collecting and preserving these memories so that current and future members can enjoy them and see where we, as a department, evolved from. As chairman, I have the pleasure of receiving these items and communicating with the donors about their history. Along with that the Historical Society also sponsors the Career Achievement Award, presented to a member of the department each year and the annual awards ceremony.
When I was told that the Historical Society would have a place in the new website, I was honored and welcomed the opportunity to reach out to all of you to assist us with our mission. We are constantly seeking help from members of our organization (both active and retired) as well as citizens who may have items of historical interest, such as uniforms, patches, badges, photographs or other interesting artifacts that they would be willing to donate. Our goal is to archive as many items as possible and to display these items for everyone to enjoy and, as the website evolves, the Historical Society will contribute articles and other features to bring some of our department’s history to you to enjoy.
If you have any items that you believe would be of interest to us, please contact me at the police department at (909) 384-5742, or contact us at the POA office and we will make arrangements for the items to either be dropped off or have someone pick them up from you.
Once again, thank you for supporting our goal of keeping the tradition and memories of your police department alive.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SAN BERNARDINO POLICE DEPARTMENT, 100 YEARS IN THE MAKING (1905-2005)
By 1850 California had won independence from Mexico in the Mexican-American War and had been admitted as a state into the union. In 1851 a company of 500 Mormon men, women and children with 150 wagons arrived in the San Bernardino valley. By February of 1852, the Mormon pioneers purchased the 40,000-acre San Bernardino Rancho from the Lugo family for $77,000. The Mormons built a stockade to protect themselves from raiding desert Indians, naming their stockade Fort San Bernardino. As the population increased to 1,200 people, so did the need for law enforcement, and in 1853 the president of the Mormon Church, Brigham Young, appointed Bud Rollins the first law officer in the San Bernardino settlement. By 1854 San Bernardino was thriving, and the city of San Bernardino was officially incorporated. With the vast majority of San Bernardino being Mormons, San Bernardino was a temperance town, with no drinking or gambling allowed.
San Bernardino as an official Mormon settlement lasted only five years — in 1857, Brigham Young recalled the colonists, and many returned to Salt Lake. Opportunists of all kinds soon filled the vacuum that was created by so many leaving so quickly, and San Bernardino soon found a reputation as a tough town.
In 1868 the elective office of town marshal was established. The town marshal would remain the law enforcement agency in San Bernardino until the town was reincorporated under the newly established rules of city incorporation in 1905.
From 1853 to 1905, 15 men served as town marshal of San Bernardino: Bud Rollins, Stewart Wall, George Mattheson , Frank Kerfoot, Charles Landers, Mark Thomas, John C. Ralphs, L. Van Dorin, Joseph Bright, Hughes Thomas, David Wixom, William Reeves, John Henderson, Ben Souther and Walter A. Shay.
After the City of San Bernardino incorporated under the new rules of incorporation, a mayor and city council were elected to office. H.M. Barton was elected as the first Mayor of San Bernardino, and he and the new council took office May 8, 1905. One of the first orders of business for the new mayor and council was to appoint a new police force to take office at 12 noon, May 15, 1905. Mayor Barton read a proclamation naming the eight officers to the newly formed police department: John Bell Ketring, Robert O’Rourke, John A. Henderson, William H. Hurley, Edward Poppett, Benjamin Emerson, Richard Curtis and Robert Nish.