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City of Berkeley Police Department History
The Earliest Years 1905-1925
"First In Policing"

BERKHIST15.JPGThe City of Berkeley, California was incorporated in 1878 and was policed by an elected town Marshall. The Marshall was assisted by elected Constables who throughout the years primarily served papers and seldom made arrests without a warrant. At the turn of the century, crime increased and...

In 1905, August Vollmer was elected town Marshall. In 1909, he was appointed as the City of Berkeley's first Chief of Police. Chief Vollmer was instrumental in organizing the department, creating what we now call a "Code of Ethics", which included eliminating the acceptance of gratuities, rewards or favors." 

Chief Vollmer demanded a high level of honesty, efficiency, interest and hard work from his officers. This has continued to this day, which has been the foundation for BPD's reputation in the law enforcement field.

Chief Vollmer's progressive thinking and use of new innovations in law enforcement became the foundation that BPD has been built upon and provided a legacy as a department that can be called "First in Policing" in so many areas. 

Some of the early innovations by Chief Vollmer and the Berkeley Police Department were:

n 1906, the department installed a basic records system. (One of the first in the United States)BERKHIST14.JPG

In 1906, installed the first Modus Operandi (MO) System.

In 1907, first use of scientific investigation (Kelinschmidt case - analysis of blood, fibers and soil).

BERKHIST11.JPGIn 1907, the department's police school was established. It included instruction from professors on such subjects as the law and evidence procedures. This was the first school of its kind in the world and had a far reaching impact on law enforcement. Vollmer was elected as the president of the California Police Chiefs Association in 1907, and in 1922, he became the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. (IACP)

In 1910, was the first Chief to put officers on bicycles.

In 1911, organized the first Police Motorcycle Patrol.

In 1913, shift to automobiles for patrolling.

In 1914,  BPD formed the first Juvenile Division in the US as well as equip BPD with the first radio communications between officers.

In 1916, Chief Vollmer established the first School of Criminology at University of California, Berkeley. Chief Vollmer became a strong advocate of college educated police officers. He was the first Police Chief to require that officers get college degrees.

In 1918, began using intelligence tests in recruiting police officers.

In 1920, the first lie detector instrument was developed at University of California and used by BPD.

In 1921, began to use psychiatric screening in recruitment. Vollmer was the first Chief to use the lie detector in investigations.

In 1923, the first Junior Traffic Police Program was established.

In 1924, established one of the first single fingerprint systems. BPD was one of the first to use fingerprints to identify suspects.

In 1925, the first College Trained Woman Officer in the USA: Mrs. Elizabeth Gurnell Anderson Lossing was appointed.

Go To More BPD Early History
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