HISTORY OF EUREKA POLICE DEPARTMENT
Researched and written by Captains Jay Bryant and Murl Harpham—1979— 9 Updated in 1989
1850 when James Talbot Ryan (Ryan Slough) first arrived on
Soon after the first
exploration parties had settled in
didn’t take long for the Indians to retaliate. Many of these white settlers
had murdered the Indians were themselves murdered
in their homes located around
In January 1853, the
Army dispatched 87 men of the
U.S. Army was the only law enforcement in
bars sprang up in
The Board accepted the refusal and appointed John Atcheson as Marshal. They directed him to enforce the following:
· Enforce laws against “rowdies” and drunks.
Enforce laws against
the lumber mills that were piling sawdust on the streets of
· Keep all hogs, pigs and shoats off the streets and fine the owners $1.00. If the owner did not claim the animal, it was to be sold at public auction.
At the March 27th, 1858 meeting, the Board expanded Marshal Atcheson’s duties to include keeping the dock clear and safe and collecting wharf fees. He was also to serve legal papers and be the town Fire Chief with the authority to hire all persons needed to extinguish any fire.
February 20, 1860, a group of citizens calling themselves
the "Home Guard" went to
presence of the Army, it was still unsafe to wander
The Marshal and the Army took care of law enforcement
until 1865, when
Nighttime activity was increasing rapidly in 1875, so at the July 6 Common Council Meeting (the term Common Council replaced the Board of Trustees) a “Night Policeman” was appointed. This officer was assigned duties as follows under Ordinance 15 of July 6, 1875:
· Work from 2 hours after sunset until sunrise.
· Light and extinguish the city’s street lamps.
· Arrest vagrants.
· Arrest suspicious persons.
· Arrest and take before the Police Judge any person who committed any breach of the peace.
· Pay was to be $60.00 per month with 24 hours off duty per month.
· Be paid $2.00 per arrest with the arrestee paying the fee.
Not only did Eureka have its loggers, fishermen, sailors, and mill workers, but also a large ethnic group of Chinese had moved to Eureka and established a Chinatown, which today is the area bounded by E and F Streets and Third and Fourth.
Although most of the Chinese were laborers,
working in laundries, on the docks, and as house attendants for many of
The Chinese’s propensity for tong- type wars broke out one
night in 1885 at Fourth and E Streets.
Eureka City Councilman David Kendal was killed
by a stray bullet as he went into
A town meeting was called the next day, and approximately
480 Chinese people were exiled and loaded aboard ships and shipped to
On September 4, 1876, a city prison was established at Engine House No. 2 for the Marshal and night policeman. The Marshal worked days and the policeman worked nights.
On June 9, 1887 the council enacted Ordinance 110 and designated the Marshal as the Acting Chief of Police. This ordinance increased the size of the police force and gave the Chief the following duties:
· Keep his office at the City Hall, which was also to be the police headquarters.
· Have the power to assign policemen to duties.
· Keep records.
Ordinance 110 also established some guidelines for the police force as follows:
Every appointee will
be a citizen of the
· Be a qualified elector.
· Be diligent in their patrols.
· Suppress all riots, duels, frays and disturbances of the peace.
· Not to visit (unless on duty) any drinking saloon, bawdy houses, houses of ill fame, theatres, circuses, or other place of business or amusement.
· Be given one day off per month.
On July 8, 1895, H.B. Hitchings was named the first full time Chief of Police of Eureka. Four other officers were also named. They were: Ed Conant, F.G. Barnum, E.A. Chamberlain and J.A. Armstrong. Hitching wanted his officers in uniform, and a month later on August 5, 1895, the council adopted a uniform ordinance.
The first policemen in
early 1900’s, problems in the
In April of 1917, the
These two events are reflected in the types of arrests made by
Another common arrest was for “spitting on the sidewalks”. There were three reasons for this. :
1. To prevent the spread of the flu.
2. Because women wore full length dresses and they tended to drag on the ground.
3. Many of the sidewalks were made of redwood and they became slippery.
Prior to entering the war and during the war there were many arrests for “going
north of fourth.” These were always persons born in
The Volstead Act in 1919 made it illegal to sell alcohol until its repeal in1933. However, even prior to the Volstead Act, it was illegal to sell alcohol to Indians. The Police blotters were rife with persons charged with selling alcohol to Indians or to “half breeds.”
During the prohibition period there were many
“speakeasies” in the area now known as “
There have always been prostitutes in
Prior to their closure, the women were under the control of a madam,
were not allowed to drink while working,
and were checked regularly by doctors. Drugs did not exist. Many of the houses
were very plush. Sgt. Robert Wiley and his night crew
would raid the houses (19 houses within several blocks of the police station at
Third and G Streets) and would load the ladies onto buses bound for
With the women on the street and without their madams looking after them, pimps took over and drugs soon followed. For several years the girls were street walkers with pimps looking after them. In the early sixties as the liquor licenses were moved out of the area by Alcohol Beverage Control and Police, the bars were replaced with all night coffee houses, some of which did not open until after 2 a.m.
These coffee houses are where men could find the girls and after hour alcohol from bootleggers. The joke at that time was that more alcohol was sold in the coffee houses then when they were bars. One such coffee house, the Rainbow club, was targeted by Sgt. Murl Harpham who used officers from outside agencies to pose as “Johns” to arrest prostitutes out of that club. In an eight month period of time 67 girls were arrested and the place was closed under the Red Light Abatement law which had not been enforced since 1954.
In his book, “ The Last Days of California”, author Curt
Gentry wrote glowingly about
Another major event
Eureka Police had its’ heartbreaks over the years with the loss of officers acting in the line of duty.
On Halloween Night of 1945, the only two police units on duty were both responding to a jail break at Juvenile Hall at 6th and I Streets. Police radios would not come for several years, so the units had no communication. When they did not hear each other’s sirens, they collided at the intersection of 7th and H Streets, killing Officer Pete Carroll, age 55.
On December 1, 1974 there was a major riot at
Then on November 21, 1996, Detective Charles Swanson (a lifelong friend of Pat Mitchell) and Detective Pat Freese were attempting to serve an arrest warrant on a subject wanted for rape, molestation, and burglary. When the suspect attempted to flee in his vehicle, he crashed into a ditch. He then attempted to flee on foot, with Swanson in close pursuit. When he and Freese caught the suspect, there was a struggle. Once the handcuffs were on the suspect, Detective Swanson, age 47, fell dead of a heart attack.
The original city hall was located at 3rd and G Streets which is now a parking lot. It once was home for the Police Department, Fire House, City Courts and all other city offices. It was damaged beyond repair in the 1954 earthquake and everyone was ordered to vacate the building except the Police Department.
The Police Department remained in the condemned building
until July 1, 1960 when they moved into the first floor of the new
The Police Department remained in the County Court house for 21 years until December 15, 1981. At that time they moved in with the firemen at the main firehouse at 6th C Streets while the new police department was being planned and constructed across the street. It was a marriage of the odd couple, the neat freak firemen and the slobs, the cops.
Much to the delight of the firemen the cops moved into their new building in November of 1986.