Police History

In 1850 miners flocked into California in search of gold and the fortune it promised them.  They came into Stockton, a small tent town with a minimum of laws.  The first jail here was a French brig, the "Susanne," located at Mormon Slough near Center Street.  It was rented to local officials for three hundred dollars a month.

Gold was then worth about $16 an ounce.  Gambling was rampant,  so gambling houses were many and anywhere in this makeshift camp.  The population was overwhelmingly male and from all walks of life.  Cheating and robbery were the usual activities of the day, and it was quickly realized that a certain kind of man was needed to control the crime in the streets.

The Stockton Police Department was founded August 14, 1850.  The First Chief of Police was City Marshal W.W. Willoughby.  The City Marshal was authorized to hire no more than twenty men as day and night policemen.  Of this twenty men, he was required to structure his department with a Police Captain, an Assistant Captain and two Sergeants.  Upon being sworn in, the police officers could expect the following pay:

  • Captain of Police   $8 per day.
  • Assistant Captain  $8 per day
  • Police Sergeant     $225 per month
  • Policeman               $150 per month

On Saturday, August 17, 1850 at 1 o'clock in the afternoon, the following men were sworn as members of the first police department of Stockton:

  • Captain John D. Callahan
  • Assistant Captain S.G. Philips
  • Sergeant Samuel Catts
  • Sergeant Philip McClusky
  • Officers: Elihu White, Peter Earl, James Lynch, Charles Thurston, Charles W. Bradford, Thomas Sayer, Samuel Gensler, Lucian Fletcher, Michael Hart, Peter Wood, Henry W. Derby and Alexander Jackson.

The first station house was located at the corner of Center and Market Streets.SPD Officers 1884  In February 1861, the City Council created the position of Chief of Police.  His annual salary was $900 and the chief would be elected by the public.  On May 6, 1862, George E. Taber was elected the first Chief of Police for the City of Stockton.

In 1886 Stockton Police Officers were required to wear blue uniforms and a six point star badge. In October 1889 a new uniform was decided upon by the Chief.  The uniform frock coat worn by Oakland Police Officers was agreed upon and would cost around $50 or $60 each.  The San Francisco style star was chosen as the badge and were made of silver.  Each badge would cost $5.

In 1907 the department had grown to 18 members which included the Chief, Officers and clerks.  The population was around 25,000 and the police department handled about 600 cases per year.  In 1908 the Chief required all police officers to appear for a day of field efficiency testing; this included each officer running 100 yards and a 50 yard revolver practice.


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This City of Stockton web page last reviewed on --- 7/2/2013