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August Vollmer

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The Berkeley Police Department said “In 1905, August Vollmer was elected town Marshal. In 1909, he was appointed as this City's first Chief of Police. Chief Vollmer was instrumental in organizing this 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 by his officers. This has continued to this day, which has been the foundation for our world wide reputation in the law enforcement field.

Chief Vollmer is considered by some as the father of modern day law enforcement. His progressive thinking and use of new innovations in law enforcement became the foundation that our department has built on. Some of the early innovations by Chief Vollmer and this department were:

In 1906, the department installed a basic records system (One of the first in the United States); In 1906, installed the first Modus Operandi (MO) System; In 1907, first use of scientific investigation (Kelinschmidt case - analysis of blood, fibers and soil);In 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 effect on law enforcement; In 1911, organized the first Police Motorcycle Patrol; In 1913, changed to automobiles for patrolling; In 1916, Chief Vollmer established the first School of Criminology at University of California, at Berkeley. Chief Vollmer became a strong advocate of college educated police officers; 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 our department; In 1921, began using a psychiatric screening in recruitment; In 1923, the first Junior Traffic Police Program was established; In 1924, established one of the first single fingerprint systems; and, In 1925, established our first Crime Prevention Division and hired the first Police Woman.

According to Crime Fighter (Biography of August Vollmer), “When he faced a problem in law enforcement, Vollmer often found a new and better way to solve it. Thus he was responsible for the first Coordinating Council for crime prevention, the first lie detector, the first modern prison farm, the first school for policemen and many other important contributions.”


Crime Fighter
Parker  More Info
Crime Crooks & Cops
August Vollmer and Alfred E. Parker  More Info
The criminal (Police science series)
August Vollmer  More Info
The police and modern society
August Vollmer  More Info
The case against capital punishment in California: A special message to the California State Legislature
August Vollmer  More Info
Police bureau survey, city of Portland, Oregon: Submitted to Mayor Earl Riley
August Vollmer  More Info

Police Chief Magazine said of August Vollmer’s service with the LAPD,  he “agreed toserve for one year in 1923. Many police historians and researchers claim Vollmer as the father of modern professional policing in the United States. He was the president of the IACP 1921-22, when he was chief of police in Berkeley, California. Vollmer, a dedicated reformer and administrator, completely reorganized the department. He improved working conditions, established new standards of professionalism, and laid the groundwork for what since has become the department's Scientific Investigation Division. He also formed the 300-man Crime Crushers Division, forerunner of today's Metropolitan Division, to focus personnel resources on high-crime areas. It was Vollmer who made the often-quoted statement "There is no higher calling than that of a policeman. I would rather be a policeman than president.”

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