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University of California Berkeley 

University of California 

Bancroft Library/Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 
August Vollmer Historical Project 


John Holstrom 
O.W. Wilson 

Milton Chernin 
General William Dean 
Rose Glavinovich 
Gene Woods 
Al Coffey 
George Brereton 

Thomas Hunter 
Willard Schmidt 
Muriel Hunter 
Alfred Parker 

Vollmer as a Man: Memories of a 
Close Friend and Colleague 

Training by Correspondence: Vollmer s 
Influence on Orlando Wilson, Berkeley s 
Most Famous "College Cop" 

The University Years: Vollmer as a 

Vollmer s Influence on the Career of 
An Army General 

Covering the Berkeley Police Depart 
ment: August Vollmer and the Press 

August Vollmer: His Community and His 

August Vollmer: A Man of Principle 
and Action 

Looking Back: Ex-Director of the 
California Department of Justice 
Remembers His Years as a Patrolman 
Under August Vollmer 

The "V" Men, Vollmer s Dedicated 

Enforcing Prohibition: August Vollmer,/ 
Earl Warren, and Willard Schmidt 

August Vollmer s Secretary Talks about 
Her Boss 

Vollmer 1 s Biographer Discusses His 

Interviews Conducted by 
Jane Howard Robinson 

(c\ 1972 by The Regents of The University of California 

August Vollmer in home study 

August Vollmer, shortly after retirement, 1932 
Berkeley Police Department 

This manuscript is open for research purposes. 
All literary rights in the manuscript, including the 
right to publish, are reserved to the Bancroft Library 
of the University of California at Berkeley. No part 
of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without 
the written permission of the Director of The Bancroft 
Library of the University of California at Berkeley. 

Requests for permission to quote for publication 
should be addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 
U86 Library, and should include identification of the 
specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the 
passages, and identification of the user. 


The August Vollmer Historical Project was initiated in the Spring of 
1971, while I was doing research on the development of police professional 
ism in the United States in connection with a doctoral dissertation for 
the School of Criminology, University of California at Berkeley. My dis 
cussions with police leaders such as John Holstrom (Berkeley Police Chief 
from 19^^-1960, later lecturer in the School of Criminology) and 
Bruce Baker (present Berkeley Police Chief) led me to recognize the strong 
impact that August Vollmer had had in shaping modern law enforcement during 
his years as Berkeley police chief (1905 to 1932) and later as a writer and 
educator in police administration. The generation of Berkeley police 
leaders following Vollmer had vivid memories of the years of innovation and 
development during which they worked with him, and they communicated to me 
their strong feeling that some record of Vollmer s influence should be made 
by those who had worked closely with him. 

At this time my research was being funded by a fellowship from the Law 
Enforcement Assistance Administration. From these funds I set aside about 
$1,000 as an initial budget for a historical project on Vollmer. The 
project was developed in conjunction with the Bancroft Library, University 
of California, and consisted of two main aspects: First, collecting and cata 
loguing materials on Vollmer s life and career that were dispersed in 
various places. Most of Vollmer s private papers had been left to the 
Bancroft Library upon his death in 1955, but had never been catalogued. A 
considerable amount of material was also located in the files of the 
Berkeley Police Department , which I proposed to have transferred to the 
Bancroft Library where it could be catalogued and assimilated with the other 
materials. Additional papers, letters and photographs were in the posses 
sion of former associates of Vollmer. 

Second, we planned to conduct a series of oral interviews with former 
colleagues and friends of Vollmer s, who could give their impressions of 
Vollmer as a man and as a police leader, and could supply information on 
the specific aspects of his career with which they were most closely con 
nected. Because Vollmer had such a strong personal influence on other police 
leaders, I felt that these interviews, conducted under the supervision of 
the Regional Oral History Office of the Bancroft Library, would lend depth 
to future biographies of Vollmer and future studies of the period and 

It was soon evident that available funds and staff would be inadequate 
for this ambitious Job. The first objective, collecting and cataloguing the 
Vollmer papers, was limited to a modest effort, in the expectation that the 
Bancroft Library would be able to supply the staff to complete the Job over 
a longer period of time. We decided to concentrate our present funds upon 
conducting the oral interviews, and received generous support from several 


people. Mrs. Willa Baum, Head of the Regional Oral History Office, agreed 
to provide technical assistance and guidance for the project. Since I 
would be leaving Berkeley in July, 1971, to take a position on the faculty 
of Trenton State College, Nev Jersey, Mr. Holstrom agreed to supervise the 
project following my departure. He also provided invaluable advice about 
the design of. the project and the selection of persons to be interviewed. 
Dean Sheldon Messinger of the School of Criminology volunteered the 
School s clerical support for transcribing, typing and correcting the manu 
script interviews. Finally, I was able to recruit Jane Howard Robinson, a 
fellow graduate student with whom I had been associated in a professional 
program in India, to become Project Director and serve as the project s only 
paid staff member. Mrs. Robinson assumed the responsibility for conducting 
the interviews and coordinating their typing, editing, proofreading, and 
final preparation for binding. 


Our first concern was to determine who should be interviewed, and how 
Jane Robinson, as interviewer, could best encourage interview subjects to 
talk fully and openly about their work and friendship with August Vollmer. 
I drew up a list of potential subjects who could provide a meaningful per 
spective on Vollmer as a man and a police professional. Mr. Holstrom 
developed a comprehensive list of sources of information about Vollmer, in 
cluding retired and former members of the Berkeley Police Department and 
other friends of Vollmer. From these sources we developed a list of inter 
view subjects for Mrs. Robinson to contact. 

We developed an open-ended questionnaire to serve as a guide for the 
interviews, after consultation with Mr. Holstrom, the Bancroft Library 
Regional Oral History Office, and Alfred Parker, co-author with Vollmer of 
two books on policing and author of an informal biography of him.* The 
questionnaire (see Appendix A), containing only seven questions or topics, 
was used as a tool to encourage free discussion, not to direct or contain it. 
The questionnaire was revised slightly about midway through the project, 
since Mrs. Robinson found that a rearrangement of topics led to a smoother 
flow of conversation during interviews. (See Appendix B for copy. ) 

Concurrent with this project, the Regional Oral History Office was in 
volved in an extensive oral history of Earl Warren. August Vollmer s term 
as chief of the Berkeley Police Department overlapped Warren s term as 
District Attorney of Alameda County, and on many occasions throughout the 
years the two men worked together. Mrs. Amelia Fry, Director of the Warren 
project, worked with Mrs. Robinson and me to develop some general questions 
that were asked to Voller interview subjects concerning Vollmer s 
relation with Warren. Specific topics were outlined for the interview with 

Alfred E. Parker, Crime Fighter: August Vollmer (New York: Macmillan, 196l), 


Willard Schmidt, as he had worked very closely with Warren in enforcing 
Prohibition laws in Emeryville. 

Interview subjects were contacted by telephone or mail by either 
Mr. Holstrom or Mrs. Robinson. When Holstrom made the contact, Mrs. Robinson 
called or wrote to confirm. 

The interviews were conducted informally. If subjects asked what 
preparation they should make for the interview, Mrs. Robinson stressed that 
the session would be informal, and that they should simply talk about what 
Vollmer was like, and how they remembered him. If they felt a strong need 
for written guidance, the questions were sent to them. All efforts were 
directed toward producing relaxed, informal interviews that would show 
Vollmer as an individual. 

Thirteen interviews were conducted. One was inadvertently erased, and 
a repeat interview was not possible. The final volume contains twelve inter 
views. (See Appendix C for a list of subjects and interview dates. ) 

The interview tapes were transcribed by the School of Criminology 
secretarial staff under the direction of Mrs. Linda Peachee. Mrs. Robinson 
corrected the tapes for typing errors and forwarded them to the subjects 
for changes, deletions, additions, and corrections. The corrected and 
revised tapes were returned to Mrs. Robinson and forwarded by her to the 
School of Criminology for final typing. They were then proofed, corrected, 
given a final reading, and forwarded to the Regional Oral History Office for 
indexing, copying, and binding. 

Taping, travel costs, coordination of processing and preparing the 
interview volume consumed the entire August Vollmer Historical Project budget, 
as was anticipated shortly after the project was conceived and designed. 
Fortunately, the other aspect of the original project design cataloging 
Vollmer s personal papers and transferring the Berkeley Police Department 
papers to the Bancroft Library did find support in the Bancroft Library. 
As of June 1972, cataloging of Vollmer s personal papers was almost complete. 
Discussions between the Berkeley Police Department and the Bancroft Library 
had led to the transfer of papers on the Vollmer era from the department to 
the library, with cataloging of the papers to begin after completion of the 
cataloging of personal files. 

In the course of this project and independent work on the career of 
August Vollmer, my own dissertation research came to center almost entirely 
upon Vollmer 1 s role in the early development of police professionalism. The 
dissertation is in the final stages of writing, under the title "August 
Vollmer and the Origins of Police Professionalism," and will be formally 
completed by the Fall of 1972. The Earl Warren history, mentioned above, 
also contains much relevant material on this period of policing and social 
change. It is my hope that, when the Vollmer papers are cataloged and 
made available to other scholars, further research will be conducted into 
this important era in the history of American policing. 



Many people have been involved in making the oral interview project 
possible. I would like to thank John Holstrom for his continuous advice 
and support, and for his cooperation in contacting many of his colleagues 
to arrange for interviews. It would have been very difficult to win the 
cooperation of many of the subjects without Mr. Holstrom 1 s support. He 
also provided the highly useful list of interview subjects and other Vollmer 
associates, which will remain on file in the Regional Oral History Office 
in Bancroft Library, to use as a guide should funds become available for 
further research. 

Within the School of Criminology, Dean Sheldon Hessinger deserves 
recognition both for the initial encouragement and advice he provided to 
us and for the many hours of secretarial support he made available. 
Ann Goolsby, his assistant, managed the funds for the project. Linda Peachee 
coordinated the transcribing, typing, and correcting of all interviews at 
the School of Criminology. She and other secretarial staff members pro 
vided many hours of cheerful service, despite the fact that this work was 
not in any way a part of their regular duties. 

I would also like to acknowledge the invaluable technical assistance 
and support that made the production of a formal volume possible. 
Mrs. Willa Baum provided extensive advice on all aspects of the project, 
and supervised the final production of the volume of interviews. 
Mrs. Amelia Pry provided questions to the interviewer that helped to estab 
lish the link between the careers of August Vollmer and Earl Warren. 

The Berkeley Police Department under the leadership of Chief Bruce Baker 
also provided the project with important support. They made all personnel 
records available to Mr. Holstrom to assist in the development of the list 
of interview sources, and provided space for the interview with Mr. Schmidt. 

I am also grateful for the financial support that was possible through 
the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, in the form of a fellowship 
that has enabled me to pursue my research in the history of American policing. 
These funds were sufficient to permit us to produce this volume of interviews, 
and to provide a beginning for future research that may be possible in this 

The primary credit for the success of this venture, however, belongs to 
Jane Howard Robinson, who provided the only link between all the individuals 
and departments involved. Her skill in coordinating all aspects of the 
project, from interviews to financing and typing, has prevented the project 
from languishing for want of direction. She has used her good Judgment in 
interviewing and editing to ensure a rich level of interview material, and 
has coped patiently with the difficulties of administering a project that 
often involved people living at considerable distance from Berkeley. 

We are pleased to have gathered these interviews together, and 
hope that they will stimulate further research on August Vollner and his 

Gene Carte 
Assistant Professor 
Dept. of Criminal Justice 
Trenton State College, New Jersey 

June 1972 

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The image of professional policing as ve know it today is largely 
the creation of one man, August Vollmer, who was police chief of Berkeley, 
California, from 1905 to 1932. Vollmer was a tireless crusader for the 
reform of policing through technology and higher personnel standards. 
Under his direction the Berkeley department became a model of professional 
policing efficient, honest, scientific. He introduced into Berkeley a 
patrol-wide police signal system, the first completely mobile patrol 
first on bicycles, then in squad cars modern records systems, beat 
analysis and modus operand i . The first scientific crime laboratory in the 
United States was set up in Berkeley in 19l6, under the direction of a full- 
time forensic scientist. The first lie detector machine to be used in 
criminal investigation was built in the Berkeley department in 1921. 

Vollmer s department was best known for the caliber of its personnel. 
He introduced formal police training in 1908, later encouraging his men to 
attend classes in police administration that were taught each summer at 
the University of California. Eventually he introduced psychological and 
intelligence testing into the recruitment process and actively recruited 
college students from the University, starting around 1919. This was the 
beginning of Berkeley s "college cops," who set the tone for the department 
throughout the 1920s and 30s and came to be accepted by police leaders as 
the ultimate model of efficient, modern policing. 

Nationally, Vollmer worked through such forums as the International 
Association of Chiefs of Police, serving as President in 1922. He served 
as a police consultant in cities like Kansas City, Missouri (1929), and 
he directed the police study for the 1931 National Commission on Law Ob 
servance and Enforcement, better known as the Wickersham Report. He con 
demned the corruption and ineffectiveness that prevailed in most American 
police departments and urged professionalization of the police function, 
removal of political influence from routine police operations, and the 
adoption of modern technological methods. 

Vollmer s concept of professionalism has dominated police literature 
since he articulated it, and remains relatively unquestioned today. We 
need to explore the origins of this concept, the historical realities 
within which it developed, and the police department that served as its 

James Q. Wilson has characterized Vollmer s professional police de 
partment as one that emphasized "efficiency, law enforcement, aggressive 
street patrol, and honesty." Traditional policing in the period when 
Vollmer was active was the victim of political meddling and inept leader 
ship, and the traditional policeman was haphazardly selected and poorly 
trained. The ideal professional policeman, on the other hand, is honest, 


skilled, and impartial in the face of competing political demands that are 
made upon him. He is trained in the technology of policing, especially in 
criminal identification, evidence gathering and investigation. He avoids 
the overtly coercive aspects of policing whenever possible, aiming instead 
for the prevention of crime or confrontation through his appreciation of 
the psychology and sociology of crime and criminals. 

August Vollmer was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1876. His only 
formal education beyond the grade school level was a vocational course in 
bookkeeping, typing and shorthand that he took at the New Orleans Academy. 
His family moved to Berkeley, California in 1891 when Vollmer was 15. Three 
years later he opened a coal and feed store with a friend and was active in 
the formation of a volunteer fire department. He enlisted in the army when 
the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898 and was sent for a year to the 
Philippines, where the U.S. Army was engaged in warfare with indigenous 
Filipino groups following the expulsion of the Spanish. Vollmer took part 
in river patrols and participated in 25 engagements with the enemy. He 
came to admire the organizational skills of the professional army corps, 
and frequently referred to his army experience in later years when discuss 
ing the strategy of police operations. After returning home, he worked as 
a letter carrier in Berkeley for four years until he was approached to run 
for town marshal. 

Police scholar Bruce Smith has referred to the position of marshal as 
"not primarily devised for what we now know as police work." 1 * In Berkeley, 
the marshal was a political functionary who ran for election every two 
years and was responsible for a loosely organized body of services. Law 
enforcement had been lax in the past, and Berkeley had acquired a reputation 
for having poor police protection. Gambling and opium dens operated with 
little interference from the authorities, and criminals from San Francisco 
and Oakland found the town an easy target. It was these conditions that 
prompted several leading citizens to sponsor Vollmer for the Job. His 
backers included Friend Richardson, editor of the daily newspaper and later 
governor of California from 1922-26; and George Schmidt, Postmaster, both 
important members of the Republican Party. Vollmer campaigned hard and 
won election by a margin of three to one. 

Vollmer entered policing during the Progressive era, in a town that 
was known for its reform-minded citizens. ^ At that time Berkeley was a 
town of 20,000 persons, many of whom earned their living in San Francisco or 
Oakland but were alarmed by the corruption and lawlessness that prevailed 
there. Only fifty years before, San Francisco justice had been dominated by 
vigilante committees, the most organized and powerful in American history. 
The current police forces both there and in Oakland had reputations for 
corruption and inefficiency. 

Berkeley was an ideal setting for the introduction of an honest, effi 
cient, technological police force. It was a sma.11 city dominated by middle- 
class business, professional and academic groups who supported municipal 
reform. Vollmer was able to provide the aggressive leadership in policing 


that the community wanted. As one associate has described it, Vollmer 
"pushed crime north and south, "7 creating a haven of honest policing. 
At one time Berkeley had the lowest crime rate of any city in its class, 
along with the lowest per capita police costs." 

History also intervened, when the San Francisco earthquake and fire 
in 1906 overnight doubled Berkeley s population and began a boom period 
of economic development , spurred by businesses that deserted San Francisco 
for the East Bay. Vollmer turned his department from a town patrol into an 
urban police force in a few short months, and the community was willing 
and financially able to support bond issues to pay for his innovations. 

Scholarswill date professional policing from Vollmer *s decision that 
the police officer needed significantly special skills to do his Job, 
skills that could not be learned on the beat by a recruit who was indiffer 
ent to the "higher purposes" of policing. He was awed by the amount of 
technical information that could be used in crime investigation, an aware 
ness that he developed from his contact with professors at the University 
and his own program of self education. Any new technology, whether two-way 
radios or computers, required the retraining of existing line operations, 
and suggested that the occupation may have been significantly changed by 
the introduction of the new techniques. Old-style policing had been so 
inefficient and uninspired that there seemed to be a radical difference 
between a political functionary who walked a beat and Vollmer s image of a 
trained professional who attacks crime with an armory of technical aids. 
It was natural for Vollmer and his advisers in the University faculty to 
overestimate the technical and intellectual skills that the new policeman 
would be required to have. He developed an almost visionary concept of 
the kind of individual who should be a professional policeman: 

My fancy pictures to me a new profession in which 
the very best manhood in our nation will be happy 
to serve in the future. Why should not the cream 
of the nation be perfectly willing to devote their 
lives to the cause of service providing that service 
is dignified, socialized and professionalized. 
Surely the Army offers no such opportunity for con 
tributing to the welfare of the nation and yet men 
unhesitatingly spend their lives preparing for army 
service. 9 

What we see from the interviews below is that Vollmer was able to transmit 
that vision to many others. 

From this enthusiasm emerged the finest police training programs and 
selection procedures in the country. In 1908 Vollmer began the Berkeley 
Police School, at a time when most departments did not even have informal 
training: officers were merely assigned to a beat and told to maintain "law 
and order. "10 This first school, which deputy marshals attended while off 
duty, had classes in police methods taught by Vollmer and an Oakland police 


inspector; first aid; photography; and courses in sanitation laws and 
criminal evidence, taught by professors from the University. By 1930, two 
years before Vollmer retired, recruits were receiving 312 hours of work 
within the police school, in a curriculum that included, in addition to 
technical police subjects, Criminal law and Procedure, Police Psychiatry, 
Criminal Identification, and Police Organization and Administration. 11 
Vollmer himself taught police administration courses during summer sessions 
at the University between the years 1916 and 1931, and after his retire 
ment from the department was appointed a research professor in Berkeley s 
political science department. 

The "college cop" program began around 1919 when Vollmer placed an ad 
in the campus newspaper inviting students to earn extra money by becoming 
Berkeley police officers. This was a period of economic recession and 
many students responded, perhaps also attracted by the challenge of passing 
the intelligence tests that the department was using to screen recruits. 

There is a gap between the image of the "college cop" that emerged 
from Berkeley, and the actual reality in the department, for college grad 
uates never did comprise a majority of the force. They did, however, domi 
nate the character or image of the department, especially in those early 
years. O.W. Wilson was to be the most successful of Vollmer s college cops, 
and a number of others had successful careers within the department or, more 
frequently, left for leadership positions in other police agencies or police 
education programs. Many college students worked in the department until 
graduation, at which time they left to pursue other careers. 

During the years when he developed the Berkeley department , Vollmer 
was sensitive to the importance of using the press, both to maintain com 
munications with reform elements in his own community, and to influence 
police reform throughout the country. This was a period when the press was 
a strong factor in California reform movements. 1 ^ For several months early 
in his career, Vollmer was the subject of bitter attacks in the local paper, 
because of a disagreement with the editor over police policies. Vollmer 
never replied publicly to the attacks, nor did he criticize the newspaper in 
an attempt to gain support. The editor respected Vollmer for his restraint 
and soon initiated a reconciliation, and thereafter supported the department 
strongly. i3 Vollmer later used this incident in cautioning his Junior 
officers against warring with the press, and he had a keen appreciation of 
the process that we now refer to as "image-building." His police /community 
relations were so successful in Berkeley that the mayor described the city s 
policemen in 19^0 as "among the most popular individuals in the community, 
and every citizen (is) an ex officio champion of the police department...." 1 ^ 

Crime news was a more important part of newspapers then than it is 
today, and the Berkeley department had five or six full-time reporters as 
signed to it from Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco newspapers. 1 Before 
a new building was built in the mid-1920s, the press shared the squad room 
with working policemen, and throughout Vollmer s term as chief he granted the 
press open access to police records , so lonp as they respected the department s 
decision not to publicize certain stories. 

Vollmer was making news in the Berkeley department, and his innova 
tions soon gained a nationwide audience. But he also valued more scholar 
ly and professional forums than the daily newspapers, and became a pro 
lific contributor, writing in support of his ideas about the upgrading of 
policing through technology and personnel reform. Vollmer was well- 
acquainted with the important literature in criminal law, criminology and 
social science, as reflected in the curriculum of his police training 
school, and had a long association with the Journal of Criminal Law and 
Criminology. He was the only police chief to be a member of its advisory 
board during the early period. He developed ties with academic communities 
outside of Berkeley, and wrote about policing in publications where re 
searchers and scholars would read his ideas. No other police leader 
reached such an audience, and Vollmer soon became the primary spokesman for 
those who worked in policing. He acquired the important "face validity" 
within the academic community of a person who could claim to be doing as 
well as observing and criticizing. His critics within the police establish 
ment were seen, often with Justification, as reactionaries, or merely 
Jealous of the favorable national attention that Vollmer s department 
received. Working at a time when most police leaders were impatient and 
resentful over what they felt was an overemphasis on the social conditions 
responsible for crime, Vollmer succeeded in getting the International 
Association of Chiefs of Police to pass a resolution pledging cooperation 
with various national research and reform groups. lo In effect, the resolu 
tion called for a redefinition of the police function to include work with 
the intangibles of crime prevention. 

For Vollmer, control of crime was the first role of the policeman, and 
was to be accomplished by giving him better organization and techniques 
than were available to the criminal elements. The other principal role of 
the policeman is discussed in a 1919 article that Vollmer wrote for a 
police Journal, entitled "The Policeman as a Social Worker," in which he 
outlined his ideas about the importance of crime prevention, especially 
with Juveniles. IT The policeman was to work as part of a social team to 
identify and help children who might become social problems. During the 
same year Vollmer and a Berkeley psychiatrist initiated a study in Berkeley s 
Hawthorne elementary school, in conjunction with community social work and 
education groups, that tested all the children in hopes of predicting future 

This was a period immediately following the First World War when 
crime actually was increasing at an alarming rate, 1 ** and Vollmer s emphasis 
on crime prevention was a response, with the tools of the day, to a legiti 
mate public concern. It also reflected his long-term interest in the use 
of psychiatry to explain the nature of criminality. Vollmer s book The 
Criminal , written in 19^9, was the culmination of a lifetime of study in 
this area and he considered it his best work. 1 ? Although his theories of 
criminality seem dated today, they had a profound effect upon his concept 
of policing. 


The Berkeley department also served as the training ground for new 
Alameda County deputy district attorneys, and it was in this connection 
that Vollner came to know Earl Warren, who received his early experience 
as a prosecuting attorney in Berkeley. Warren has said that Vollraer 
"excited his interest in a host of problems relating to law enforcement 
and the need for improvement." 20 When Warren became District Attorney and 
began the "gangbusting" raids against gambling that brought him fame 
throughout California, he used Berkeley policemen and equipment to supple 
ment his own small staff, and locked up his prisoners in the Berkeley Jail. 
Vollmer s department had already developed the techniques of investigation 
and photography that Warren needed to gather evidence that would hold up 
in courts which were often unsympathetic. In later years, Warren and 
Vollner worked together to set up police education programs in the state 
colleges and to develop state law enforcement agencies. 21 

It is relevant here to mention Vollmer s attitude toward the "third 
degree" technique of obtaining confessions. As might be expected, he was 
strongly opposed to such police methods, which were in common use at the 
time and were extensively documented in the 1931 Wickersham Report. 22 Al 
though Vollmer opposed the third degree for many reasons, including the 
violation of individual rights, the core of his objection was that third 
degree techniques were the poorest method of collecting sound evidence that 
would hold up in court. The ultimate result of using evidence based on 
"third degree" confessions he felt , was that suspicion was cast on all 
police testimony, whereas he believed that the trained professional police 
man should be viewed as the most reliable and neutral witness available. 
Critics of police excesses who welcomed Vollmer as a voice of enlighten 
ment were right in perceiving that he agreed with their stand against the 
third degree and other brutal techniques, but essentially they and Vollmer 
came to this agreement from different perspectives: most of the critics were 
reacting against the very fact of excessive police power; Vollmer was 
reacting against its inefficiency as a tool of law enforcement. 

Vollmer s enthusiasm for scientific lie detection was a natural outcome 
of his stand against the third degree, and he never lost faith that new 
breakthroughs would eventually correct the inadequacies that plagued the use 
of the lie detector in criminal investigation. John Larson, a "college cop" 
who built the first lie detector in the Berkeley department , later said that 
he felt the technique had been turned into a form of "psychological third 
degree," and confessed that he sometimes regretted having had a hand in its 
development. 2 3 

Although Vollmer conducted management surveys of numerous police de 
partments during his long career, he served as chief in only one other city, 
Los Angeles, for a year in 19 2 1- 22 - In Los Angeles he quickly recognized 
that the reform elements were far too weak to sustain a Berkeley-style 
department, and he concentrated his efforts on upgrading middle-management 
personnel, creating a cadre of committed officers who had a long-term impact 
as they rose to positions of leadership. This was typical of Vollmer s 
approach to personnel management , for although he constantly stressed the 
importance of training the line officer the patrolman on the beat , he 


devoted most of his own energies to training police executives. He worked 
to instill within police leadership a commitment to professional ideals, 
probably because he sensed that the internal pressure for reform and high 
standards would have to be strong enough to counteract the competing ex 
ternal political demands that he regarded as illegitimate. 

August Vollmer worked for police reform throughout the first half of 
this century. His ideas were promulgated through the police executives he 
trained; through professional groups like the International Association of 
Chiefs of Police; through scholarly Journals and societies; and through 
government surveys and reports, most notably the Wickersham Report. Both 
the regional and national press publicized the advanced practices of the 
Berkeley Police Department, and urban crime commissions and police depart 
ments requested Vollmer *s services as a consultant. 

Vollmer 1 s professionalism was rooted in the freedom of the police from 
political interference; it stressed technical innovations in patrol, communi 
cations and investigation, and required a skilled, dedicated police officer. 
It also offered more for the working policeman, by emphasizing improved 
wages, modern facilities, and the dignity of performing an important service. 
The police field was rich ground for the application of new technical ad 
vances which met the needs of Americans living in an urban environment. 
Crime was increasing, institutions were being reshaped, and a better organ 
ized, honest and skilled police could protect important community interests 
from social turmoil. 

Vollmer s true impact can best be understood by reading through the 
following interviews. His influence touched not only his "college cops," 
but also several generations of police leaders and writers in the field. 
Don L. Kooken, Rollin Perkins, William A. Westley, James Q. Wilson and 
A.C. Germann are among those who have acknowledged Vollmer s importance in 
establishing standards for professional policing. 

Many of his innovations were based on ideas that may be traced to others, 
ideas that came from his associates, from police experiences in other 
countries, and from academic sources. Vollmer recognized the potential of 
these ideas and unified them into a working whole, using his energy and 
dedication to set a pattern for police reform that continues to this day. 

Gene Carte 
Assistant Professor 
Department of Criminal Justice 
Trenton State College, New Jersey 

June 1972 



1. Biographical material on August Vollmer and the history of the Berkeley 
Police Department is taken from the following sources: Albert Deutsch, 

The Trouble vith Cops (New York: Crown Publishers, 195M ; J.D. Holstrom, 
"Supplement: Some Sources of Information," prepared for the August Vollmer 
Historical Project. Oral History Section, Bancroft Library, University of 
California at Berkeley, 1971; Alfred E. Parker, Crime Fighter: August Vollmer 
(New York: Macmillan, 196l); and unpublished interviews conducted for the 
August Vollmer Historical Project, op. cit . 

2. National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement, Report on Police 
(Washington, D.C. : U.S. Government Printing Office, 1931). 

3. In the Introduction to August Vollmer s The Police and Modern Society 
(Montclair, N.J.: Patterson Smith, 1971), p. v. 

U. Bruce Smith, Police Systems in the United States, 2nd Rev. Ed. (New York: 
Harper and Bros. , I960), p. v. 

5. See George E. Mowry, The California Progressives (Quadrangle Books, 
1963), p. 86. 

6. See R.M. Brown, "The American Vigilante Tradition," in Graham and Gurr, 
The History of Violence in America (New York: Bantam, 1969), p. 162. 

7. John D. Holstrom, interview with the August Vollmer Historical Project, 
op. cit. , 1971 

8. V.A. Leonard, Police Organization and Management, 2nd Ed. (Brooklyn: 
Foundation Press, 1961*), pp. 93- 1 *. 

9. Letter written from Chicago to Acting Chief Jack Greening, Oct. 15, 1930, 
Bancroft Library. 

10. For example, see the story related by Deutsch, op. c it . , p. 226. 

11. Allen Gammage, Police Training in the United States (Springfield, 111.: 
Charles C. Thomas, 1963), p. 9- 

12. Mowry, op_. cit. , pp. 21, 87-88. 

13. Holstrom. interview, op. cit. 

lU. Frank S. Gains, Mayor of Berkeley, "Berkeley: Athens of the West," in 
Western City, XVI, 1, (January 19^0). 

15. Rose Glavinovich, interview 1rith the August Vollmer Historical Project, 
op_. cit. , 1971 . 


16. Journal of the American Institute qf^Crjjiinal Lav and Criminology t 
XI, 2, (August 1920), pp. loTPTO. " 

IT. The Policemen s Nevs. June 1919. 

18. W.P.A. Writer s Project, Berkeley: The First Seventy-Five Years 
(Berkeley, Calif.: 19 1 *!), p. 129." 

19. See Fred P. Graham, "A Contemporary History of American Crime," in 
Graham and Gurr, op. cit. , p. U90. 

20. The Criminal (Brooklyn: The Foundation Press, 19^9) . 

21. John Kenney, The California Police (Springfield, 111.: Charles C. 
Thomas, 196U), p. 2U. 

22. Raid., pp. 23-5. 

23. National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement, Report on 
Lawlessness in Lav Enforcement (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing 
Office, 1931). 

University of California Bancroft Library/Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 

August Vollmer Historical Project 

John Holstrom 

An interview conducted by 
Jane Howard Robinson 

(c) 1972 by The Regents of The University of California 

John Holttrov 


John Holstrom was interviewed by Jane Howard as part of a series on 
the personal and professional life of August Vollraer. Mr. Holstrom was a 
close personal friend and professional colleague of Vollmer s for many 
years. He followed in his path, serving as Berkeley Police Chief from 
19UU-60. Mr. Holstrom also served as project supervisor for this interview 

Interviewer : 

Time and Setting of 
the Interview: 

Jane Howard 

Two interviews were conducted vith John Holstrom, on 
June 29 and June 30. 1971. The interviews were held 
with Mr. Holstrom in the School of Criminology, Uni 
versity of California, Berkeley^Office. The first 
session began at 1:30 p.m. and ended at 3:30 p.m. The 
second started at ^4:00 p.m. and ended at 6:00 p.m. 

Editing: Editing of the transcribed tapes was done by Jane 

Howard. Punctuation, paragraphing and spelling were 
corrected. Blanks left in the draft manuscript by the 
typists were filled in. 

Mr. Holstrom also reviewed the manuscript and eliminated 
some brief sections where the same material had appeared 
twice in the interview. He changed some phrases and 
words for clarity, and corrected some misspelled names. 
The changes were not major. 

Narrative Account 

of Mr. Holstrom and John Kolstrom was a police professional for forty years. 

the Progress of Born in Minneapolis in 1909, Holstrom received his B.A. 

the Interview: degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 

1930. He Joined the Berkeley Police Department in 1931 
and worked his way up to Chief by 19UU. He served as 
Chief of Police from 19 1 * 1 *-1960. 

Concurrent with his term as police chief, Mr. Holstrom 
served on the University of California, Berkeley Political 
Science Department faculty and, after it was formed, the 
University of California, Berkeley School of Criminology 
faculty. He also worked as a police consultant serving 
a broad range of federal, state, county, and city de 
partments and community agencies. 


John Holstrom (contd. ) 

Mr. Holstrom is currently a partner in the firm, 
Associated Law Enforcement Consultants, Berkeley. 

Mr. Holstrom begins the interview with brief biographi 
cal sketches and an account of how the August Vollmer 
project got started. He reviews the contents of his 
reference guide to the project. 

The interview then follows the questionnaire outline. 
In response to the question on how he became acquainted 
with Mr. Vollmer, Holstrom explains that he decided to 
take a summer session course from Vollmer out of 
interest in a subject about which he knew little. He 
was so impressed with Vollmer that he switched career 
plans and went into policing. 

Mr. Holstrom describes many of Vollmer s outstanding 
characteristics: his athletic abilities, his compassion 
for others, his integrity, his commanding presence, his 
creativity and intelligence. 

In recalling anecdotes, Mr. Holstrom remembers many 
occasions when meetings and parties would be interrupted 
by children who came to visit Vollmer. Holstrom speaks 
of Vollmer s lack of prejudice, and his way of encour 
aging people to use their abilities fully. He remembers 
the many Chinese police officials who studied under or 
visited Vollmer. 

Mr. Holstrom also recalls a grudge carried by San 
Francisco Police Chief Dullea toward Vollmer, and a 
later reconciliation when Vollmer broke the silent feud 
to help Holstrom gain entry into the inner circles of 
the International Association of Chiefs of Police. 

The interview turns to a brief review of Holstrom s 
personal history. There is discussion of how unusual 
Vollmer s "college cops" were for their time, and 
resentment toward the Berkeley Police Department by 
other bay area police departments. Mr. Holstrom then 
talks about Vollmer s unusually good relationship with 
local press. 

Mr. Holstrom discusses Vollmer 1 s mental qualities, 
particularly his creativeness and ability to innovate. 
He emphasizes that Vollmer did not care who got credit 


John liol strom (contd. ) 

for the innovations his department introduced; his 
concern was simply to see that new ideas were 
developed. He mentions Vollmer s firm opposition to 
the use of force to gain confessions and discusses 
his pqlicy prohibiting his men from taking any 

Mr. Holstrom turns to the question of Vollmer s impact 
on policing, and discusses his surveys. He also 
explains the history of the establishment of the 
University of California, Berkeley School of Crimi 

The tape then includes Holstrom s recollections of 
phrases for which Vollmer was known, such as "kill 
them [the public] with kindness". 

Holstrom discusses Vollmer s Influence in Berkeley: 
his successful crackdown on gambling and prostitution 
within Berkeley and his ability to respond to what 
the community wanted done. He explains that 
August Vollmer trained many of the men who later 
became leaders in Alameda County policing, and, in 
fact, in law enforcement throughout the country. 

Holstrom explains techniques Vollmer used to accomplish 
some of his legislative goals. The tape then includes 
discussion of Vollmer s participation on the Wickersman 
Commission. Brief mention is made of an incident in 
volving the International Workers of the World. 
Holstrom describes Vollmer s use of psychiatrists and 
psychiatric diagnostic techniques in the Berkeley 
Police Department. 

The tape closes with a lengthy description of 
Mr. Vollmer s death and the months preceding it when 
Holstrom and others began to suspect Vollmer would 
commit suicide. He recounts Vollmer s thoroughness 
and orderliness in preparing for his death. 

Jane Howard 

HOLSTROM: This is a recording concerning the August Vollmer Oral History 
Project. It is an interview by Miss Jane Howard with John D. 
Holstrom on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 29, 1971. 

Under the caption of introduction I should like to say that I 
am considerably heartened that at last such a renowned insti 
tution as the Bancroft Library has prepared to undertake a 
history of August Vollmer. I would like to contribute to it 
in any way that I can. 

For personal identification as concerns my own career, I 
should say that after being graduated from the University of 
California in 1930, I became a policeman in Berkeley in 1931; 
a Sergeant in 193*, a Lieutenant in 1937; then was Chief of 
Police from 19M to I960, when I retired for length of service. 
Concurrently, and afterwards, I have been a part-time Lecturer 
in the Political Science Department and then in the School of 
Criminology at Berkeley, beginning in 19^5; and I will end 25 
years of that service in June 1971. I have handed Miss Howard 
a very detailed sheet of personal biographical information 
which could be used if desired for reference by anyone inte 
rested in my identity as a speaker on this tape. 

By way of introduction also, in preparation for this interview 
Mr. Carte and Miss Howard handed me a suggested outline of 
subject material that might be included in this interview. In 
the week or so which has intervened I have prepared for reference 
for this interview and, as a matter of fact, for this project, 
the draft of a paper which is identified as DRAFT on June 29, 1971, 
which is some 27 pages in length plus appendices and is titled 

HOLSTROM: "August Vollmcr History Project, Supplement: Some Pxmrces of 
Information by Holstrom, June 1971." Copies are being made 
for the Bancroft Library, by way of Miss Howard and Mr. Carte, 
for Mrs. Fry in the Regional Oral History section of Bancroft 
and one or two copies for reference by the Berkeley Police 
Department which is involved in this total project. 

By way of description, the paper contains a forepage with a 
"Who s Who" description, probably written by Vollmer himself, 
which is biographical. The important dates are that he was 
born in 1876, was Chief of Police in Berkeley from 1905 
(when actually he was City Marshal until he came Chief of 
Police with the 1909 incorporation), his retirement in 1932, 
his year as Chief of Police at Los Angeles in 1923-2*4, the 
fact that he retired from Berkeley on June 30, 1932 and that 
he died on November U, 1955 at age 79- These are milestone 
dates for initial references. Besides the forepage there is 
a preface about the Bancroft Library and the things which led 
to the initiation of this project by Mr. Carte. Then, there 
follow six chapters: 

I - An introduction describing the Project. 

II - Sources of Information which con 
tains a list of some 23 or 25 living 
retirees of the Berkeley Police De 
partment who served with Vollmer. 

Ill - A list of some 26 or 27 living ex- 
members of the Berkeley Police Depart 
ment who served with Vollmer. 

IV - A list of some living friends and 
associates of Vollmer s. 

These three chapters could be used as a base for deciding who 
might be most useful for oral interview. It should be empha 
sized that for every day, week or month that goes by each of 
these people is getting older and their memories are becoming 
more diir. with the passage of time: and, as with all of ur. , 
none of them will live forever. 

Section V - Refers to other sources of information; 
that is, a collection of hundreds of 
photographs in the Berkeley Police 
Department with a suggestion of those 
people who mipht be most useful in 
identifying the subjects of these 
photographs . 

HOLSTROM: VI - A selected list of publications 

and documents which are immediately 
relevant . 

There are three appendices in this draft. A list of deceased 
retirees and former employees which might be useful as memory 
aids and identifying photographs. Another appendix contains 
an exchange of memoranda initiated by Gene Carte and a pre 
liminary budget for this phase of this project and then there 
is a third appendix for the Berkeley Police Department copy 
containing internal communications and memorandum. 

This is recounted so that there may be a minimum of reference 
to some of the things contained herein in the narrative which 
follows on the tape. 

It should be said also that there are at least two or three 
publications listed to which there might be reference. One 
of them is Parker s "Crime Fighter: August Vollmer," a book. 
One is Jack Kenney s "The California Police" and one is "The 
Proceedings of the 1922 Conference of IACP in San Francisco," 
the year that Vollmer was President of the Association. Other 
publications are listed in Chapter VI. 

For this interview Mr. Carte and Miss Howard prepared a pre 
liminary outline of general questions for an interview such 
as this. There are eight general questions and I shall refer 
to them by Roman Numerals as they are set forth in the outline, 

I: Ity personal relationship to Vollmer. In the summer of 1930 as 
an Under-Graduate I took a summer session course from Vollmer 
simply because I knew nothing about policemen and thought that 
it might be interesting. It turned out to be so and as a 
student I was tremendously impressed with the personality of 
the instructor and highly interested in his presentation of a 
subject about which I knew nothing. In addition to his own 
presentation, even as long ago as 1930, he, as professors 
today, used a visiting lecturer. I clearly recall that one 
of the highlights of that six-week summer session was the 
visiting lecturer who was a recently released inmate of 
San Quentin whose subject was safe burglaries." We were 
fascinated by a live safe burglar, who was an able speaker 
and much more interested in the professor s remark that 
later in the afternoon he was going to arrange for this man 
to open a safe, about which we probably would read in the 
daily paper. This turned out to be so; he went down in the 
afternoon and was able to easily manipulate the City Clerk s 
impregnable safe and open it . 

HOLSTROM: Needless to say, as young people we were impressed. After 
graduation in 1930, and based entirely I think on the per 
sonality of Vollmer, I finally, and very much contrary to 
the advice of my family and all of the family friends they 
could marshal, I decided to become a policeman and did so 
in 1931. The only opposition I did not have was from my 
girl, who I later married; and who has stayed with me through 
this career now for some ^0 years. I said to her and anybody 
who was interested that I intended to go and stay for a year 
and see what happened. I stayed for 29 and happened to be 
at the right place at the right time so it was a modestly 
successful career and it was interesting. 

After this first relationship with Vollmer, he was the Police 
Chief from the time I entered the Department until his retire 
ment in 1932. From the relatively lowly viewpoint of the 
policeman I had some considerable exposure to the Chief of 
Police, mostly in the weekly meetings he traditionally held 
for the whole department on Friday afternoons. Thereafter, 
while he was Professor of Police Administration at the Uni 
versity of California, from 1932 until his retirement in 
1938, I really saw very little of him. Sometime about 1938, 
after I had become a Lieutenant, I reestablished a relation 
ship with him, which grew progressively closer in the years 
which followed; particularly beginning with 19M when I 
became the Chief of Police in Berkeley. It really became an 
intimate relationship, both professionally and socially with 
our wives in the ensuing years and after Mrs. Vollmer s death. 
Until the week of Vollmer s death I saw him frequently. 

As to the impact he had on my life, I suppose that I would 
summarize it by saying that the 1930 summer session completely 
changed the course of the career I thought I was going to have 
with a shipping firm in San Francisco. So, the impact was 
almost immediate and there followed; my whole career. 

As a young policeman I learned from him a great deal about his 
standards, his honesty, his integrity, his ideals of service. 
Professionally, I benefited from knowledge gained from him and 
his associates. Certainly it is true that not everything that 
is attributed to Vollmer was done by Vollmer alone. Much was 
done in no small measure by the people around him and the people 
with whom he associated. This was the case for a number of 
other people, particularly former members of the Police Department 
and retired members of the Police Department. If oral interviews 
are accomplished you will find that these men will tell you that 
Vollmer, by his strength of character, his strength of personality 
had a very substantial impact on the lives of many people; because 
he was a true leader. One of his greatest attributes was his 

HOLSTROM: ability to encourage other people to do things that they were 
not really aware that they had the capacity to accomplish. 

II: Asks, "What kind of man vas Vollmer?" To me he was a truly im 
pressive personality. He had a commanding presence. He was an 
athlete. Walter Gordon will tell you that the Friday meetings 
were often preceeded in the police squad room in a short boxing 
match with gloves with the Chief before the meeting started. 
Others will tell you that before my time he frequently at noon 
time walked from the City Hall to the Berkeley waterfront, which 
then had purer water than it has today. Mostly because Berkeley 
had outhouses instead of a sewer system. So he swam a good deal, 
he was interested in the out of doors. In his later years, he 
was one of the leaders in the development of the Regional Park, 
where maps will show that one of the tops of the hills is named 
Vollmer Peak because of his interest in regional parks. 

He generally impressed others favorably, because of the type of 
personality he was. I would describe him as a compassionate 
man and I have very clear recollections of one of the stories 
he told indicating his compassion for other people. He had a 
young woman acquaintance who had a small child, probably pre 
school age, who for some reason I don t now remember didn t 
happen to have a husband. At one period she needed to go to 
work in the mornings to support herself. She asked the Chief 
for help and his reaction was to agree to do what he did and 
that was for a three-month period he entertained the little 
boy in his office, letting him sit on the floor at times when 
there were international visitors and play with the key collec 
tion in his lower desk drawer for recreation. He sometimes 
took him out and dropped him orer the fence at the playground 
which was then in the backyard of the City Hall, retrieving him 
only occasionally for bathroom purposes; eventually turning 
him over to his mother at noontime. This is a commentary on 
the demands or lack of them on an active chief of police and 
the willingness of a man to be helpful. 

He didn t, however, impress everyone favorably. It has been 
said that perhaps he was fifty years ahead of his time and of 
the many innovations in the police service, many were strenuously 
resisted by police officials in the neighboring communities in 
California and of the nation because police administrators then, 
as now, tend to be status quo people. This is understandable 
because their Jobs are sufficiently contentious without having 
anybody unnecessarily rock the boat for any purpose whatever and 
we see this today. I ll come later to the things that he did 
have to do with in developments, but it was not always easy. 

HOLSTROM: He impressed the people of Berkeley when he was a mail carrier. 
An oft recounted story that appears in Parker s book which was 
referred to in the first section of this tape: when he was a 
mail carrier he was sponsored for the election of City Marshal 
by Friend Richardson, then editor or publisher of the Berkeley 
Gazette, later governor of California. Interestingly, in a 
matter of a few years, he and Richardson had a falling-out and 
Vollner practiced then what he taught us later, which was never 
to fight a newspaper. He s told me the story of maintaining a 
painful silence for a period of many months in the face of cri 
tical newspaper stories in the Gazette until one day Richardson 
on the street said, "Vollmer, you re a bear for punishment. I 
admire your silence, your forebearance ; I think I was wrong 
and you were right and you ll have no further trouble with the 
Gazette." He didn t. 

I think that the personal characteristics that made him influ 
ential were his commanding personality, his pleasant manner, 
and his absolute integrity. Although I have never seen a 
report on the level of his abstract intelligence taken from 
testing sources, I believe that his abstract intelligence 
probably was very high indeed. That fact accounted for his 
extremely fertile imagination. Within recent years in circles 
interested in the administration of Justice there has been 
emphasis on one word that we have heard repeatedly. That is, 
what is badly needed in this country is innovative ideas. 
Vollner, 50 years ago, probably was more innovative than 
almost all of the police administrators in active service in 
this field put together. I think it was these things that 
made him influential and I think that he was influential 
because his colleagues and associates had confidence in his 

Ill: Anecdotes and Stories from My Own Relationship with Him. 

Question 3 asks for anecdotes and stories from my own contacts 
about what kind of man Vollmer was. I ve already described 
his personality in part in a proceeding paragraph or two and 
I suppose I think most about his personal relationships. Let 
me say incidentally that he really had no family after his 
brother died, and then after he lost his wife. There were no 
children, there was only one niece at the time of his death. 
He, for example, gave his house and its contents to his long 
time housekeeper in gratitude for her long and faithful service 
while he was a widower. 

JRH: When did his wife die? 

HOLSTROM: I m not sure of the year in which his wife died and you would 
have to ask another source. Dr. George Oulton, one of the 
suggested sources of information in the paper I have given you, 
would know from memory. 

HOLSTROM: He made up, however, for this lack of children of his own by 

his obvious interest in children over the years. I think, for 
example, of the nineteen- fifties when I frequently visited in 
his study at home or when I had occasion to take a visitor to 
see him and there were so many of them, incidentally, that they 
literally wore a path to his door from their visits at the Hall 
of Justice. On many of these occasions whatever was being dis 
cussed was interrupted by a knock at the door and it would be 
one or a half dozen of the neighborhood children who came to 
see Uncle Gus. There were two attractions: one was that the 
children trusted him, they knew that he loved them and, besides, 
he had a Jar of candy for them and so there were lots of children 
from the neighborhood whose mothers were glad indeed that their 
offspring were visiting with Uncle Gus instead of being underfoot 
at home. 

I think of an occasion of a dinner party at our house when there 
might have been four or five couples; he obviously at that point 
was the guest of honor, but he wasn t talking to his contempo 
raries or the other guests during the cocktail hour proceeding: 
dinner. He was seated in the middle of the floor teaching our 
son and one of his friends some string tricks instead of talking 
to the adults. 

What kind of a man was he? I think of today s interest in the 
so-called minority groups and I think uncharitably of people 
I know who have made an opportunistic career out of professing 
deep interest in the dis advantaged (as sociologists call them) 
members of the community. Some of these people seem to me to 
be entirely insincere or to be charitable, ineffective, really, 
in what they are doing either for personal or political gain. 
I don t recall in all of my conversations with Vollmer or in 
anything that I have read about him ever hearing any reference 
to ethnic background. As I thought about this, I think of the 
many Jewish people I happen to know who considered Vollmer a 
very close and personal friend. 3y way of illustration of his 
Jewish friends; Just to name a few, I think of three who are 
listed in the source book I have handed Miss Howard: one is 
Ernest Block, the San Francisco author; one is Dr. Milton Cher- 
nin, who was Vollmer s reader and then his Administrative 
Assistant and who today is the Dean of the School of Social 
Welfare. I think of a delightful mutual friend the late Albert 
Deutsch, whose name is also listed and who wrote "What s Wrong 
with Cops?" Al Deutsch was perhaps as Jewish as a person 
could be and yet Vollmer and he considered themselves the 
closest of friends . 


HOLSTROM: I think of the professed interest today of some people in 
the Mexican or Spanish-American segment of the population 
and I m reminded that in the 1920 s one of Berkeley s 
outstanding policemen vas a man by the name of Joe Chavez . 
Joe later had problems and it vas necessary to separate him 
from the police department, but it didn t happen during 
Vollmer s tenure. 

In the Negro community, I would simply mention Walter Gordon, 
who earned his way through college, as will be perfectly 
evident in the Gordon interview, by being a Berkeley police 
man, including Judge Gordon s law degree. And I think of what 
then took some courage on the part of Vollmer in the face of 
community opposition to insist that Gordon should be placed 
on the patrol beat immediately south of the University campus , 
an area not then frequented by Negroes. Vollmer has told me 
that he put him there for only two reasons . One was in Gor 
don s interest, to help him gain confidence in his own self- 
development and the second and overriding reason was simply 
that he was the best policeman he had available for the 
assignment. I m quite sure in my own mind that Vollmer did 
not even subconsciously relate his relationship with these 
representatives of minority groups to their ethnic background s , 
but that he looked at a man for what the man himself represented 
and that was his total interest. In any event I have never 
heard of any reference to ethnic background from him nor did I 
to the day of his death. 

One of Vollmer s great attributes was his extraordinary 
ability to encourage other people to develop ideas and to 
develop practices. He didn t care very much who got credit 
for doing something so long as it was done. He had the 
faith in people. To send O.W. Wilson, a young patrolman, 
to a California city to become a police chief and that sort 
of confidence in people was evident time and time again. I 
remember asking him on an occasion when I saw a very flowery 
letter of reference that was given to only a mediocre Berkeley 
policeman recommending him for a position. I asked the Chief 
how he could possibly in good conscience give this man the 
kind of recommendation he did. His response was, you never 
can tell what a man is able to do, but even though I recom 
mend ten, and nine of them nay disappoint me and fail, the 
tenth one may surprise me. He said, that percentage is 
good enough for me, because it is in developing people 
that we make real progress in our own society." 

IfOLSTFOM: Another anecdote about Vollmer in my personal experience as 
a very young patrolman was to be called into the Chief s 
office because he wished to inquire about something that had 
happened. I m reminded in recent years there s been a very 
popular television series produced by Jack Webb entitled, 
"Dragnet" which is filmed around the Los Angeles Police 
Department and one of the frequent phrases that Jack Webb 
has put in the mouth of Sgt. Friday is, "All I want are the 
facts, ma am," I know that this was hardly original with 
Jack Webb because I so clearly remember the young police 
man either standing before the Chief s desk or sitting in 
a chair and having him say very pleasantly "John, I m 
interested in such and such, Just tell me the facts" and 
then lean back in a relaxed manner, but looking directly 
at the young policeman with his very clear eyes and 
patiently awaiting the answer and even showing no sign 
of impatience when the young man finally ran out of con 
versation and realized that he was repeating himself and 
stopped. Then the Chief s rejoinder would be "Thank you. 
All he wanted were the facts, and the young man learned 
early that if he wanted opinions he would ask for them and 
the young man learned a very valuable lesson. Facts are 
most useful in our everyday relationships as well as in 
professional relationships. 

Hardly in the area of anecdotes but perhaps related more 
to minority groups, I m reminded that today I have a number 
of personal friends in the Chinese community in San Francisco, 
and some in Taiwan. All of these stem from early visitors 
from the Mainland of China who came here as sub-officials in 
the police system of China. Often as the top graduates of 
the National Police College, which was located at Nanking 
and before World War II in Chunking and then later in Taiwan. 
The earliest of these was Yukon Feng, who became a prominent 
Chinese police official and whose name is listed in the source 
supplement to this tape. There were a number of others, one 
of whom succeeded in earning a PhD. here in Political Science, 
others who earned their Master s degrees, some of whom returned 
to the police or governmental field in China, some of whom 
did not. So, there has been as much identification with the 
Chinese police in this relatively small police department and 
in this great University, perhaps more than any other single 
place in the world. A few of them did go to England, some to 
Germany before World War II. 

Ancedotes: When I think of the impression made on other 
people I think of a dinner party at the home of Dr. Douglas 
Kelley, the psychiatrist who was a member of the School of 
Criminology faculty and was also the police department psy 
chiatrist in Berkeley, where the guests were a mixture of 


HOLF7RO": people from the academic field and the police field, an 
interesting combination in itself. My wife reminds me 
that at one stage of the evening the men all found them 
selves talking to each other, the women were all clustered 
about Vollmer, who was seated on a coffee table playing 
a guitar softly and talking to them. My point is, that 
he was attractive not only to children, his male friends 
and associates, but to their wives as well. 

Anecdote about this man s constructive look to the future. 
One day when he was about age 75 and we happened to be 
visiting in his study, the question arose "Vhat was he 
doing beside writing and carrying on a voluminous personal 
correspondence?" His answer was that he hardly had time 
to do all of the things that he wanted to do, that in his 
spare time he was taking guitar lessons again and although 
fluent in Spanish he was taking Spanish lessons to brush 
up on his Spanish Just in case he needed it and because he 
happened to be interested in it . 

Perhaps not an anecdote but this is recounted by Parker 
and others and I know it of my own knowledge. Here was 
a man with about a sixth grade education formally, who 
was truly a self-educated man, a man who despite his 
educational handicap was a full professor before 1932 
at the University of Chicago and who left that attractive 
post to accept a full professorship at the University of 
California, a position which was terminated only for 
health reasons in 1938. 


HOLSTROM: [Well, Jane, this is the afternoon of Wednesday, June 30, 
1971 and we re going to continue a recording as we did 
yesterday. On Gene Carte s suggestion it will be an 
attempt to make this more of a conversation than what he 
chose to call something that sounded like pure, cold 
dictation, so we ll see if we can keep him happy this 
afternoon. We ve had a little preliminary session, 
where do you wish to start? Do you want to take this 
back to Roman numeral III and talk about anecdotes?] 

JRH: "Sure, we may as well Just outline some of the things 
we want to mention under each of the items. So why 
don t you Just go ahead with III and mention the 
anecdotes that you re thinking of, and then I told 
you the notes that Gene would be especially interested 
in, and Just keep on going." 

KOLSTROM: I m not sure that this is a straight anecdote, but 
about one of my great professional friends, who was 
a Chief of Police in San Francisco, by the name of 
Charles W. Dullea. I repeat we became very close 
friends and remained so up to the time of his death 
which was perhaps three or four years ago and Just 
after I became a police chief. I suppose it came 
from some insight of Vollmer s, some of his influence, 
I could tell you about as follows . It happened that 
I was assigned to detached duty in 1939 to San Fran 
cisco for a year, as a Lieutenant. I took with me 
three inspectors, i.e. detectives. The stated purpose 
was to assist their pickpocket detail at the San 
Francisco Fair in 1939 and the reason for it was that 
at the 1915 Exposition they had a lot of trouble with 
pickpockets. The San Francisco Police Chief, whose 
name was Bill Quinn, asked the East Bay Police depart 
ments to furnish a limited number of detectives 
motivated by the fact that in the 1923 Berkeley fire 
a group of Uo San Francisco policemen at Vollmer s 
request came over here and helped the police in 
Berkeley. This was the 1939 Chief s effort; J.A. 
Greening s to repay San Francisco and so he responded. 

JRH: When did you become Chief of Police? 

HOLSTROM: In 19^ , this was 1939 and I was a Lieutenant then, 
having been one since 1937. So we went to San 
Francisco and Charles Dullea then was a very in 
fluential, powerful Captain of Ispectors; he headed 
the Bureau of about 200 detectives or inspectors in 
the San Francisco Police Department, which was the 
elite unit of that department. He and his Chief Quinn 







were not on speaking terms and, because Chief Quinn 
had asked for us, we were unwelcome in the Inspector s 
Bureau. But there was a second reason and this has 
to do with Vollmer. I heard the story after we d 
got the cold shoulder for the first painful six weeks 
in San Francisco. 

There were three of you? 

Four; me and three Inspectors. It was explained that 
what had happened was there had been a meeting in 
Sacramento which had to do with police selection. 
This was after Vollmer s retirement. Vollner had 
asked to come to this conference and I have no idea 
now whether it was legislative committee or what 
it was, but it was a meeting. There was a contingent 
led by Captain Dullea and of course, Vollmer was there. 
In the course of the afternoon they got into debate 
about qualifications for policemen. Vollmer had made 
a proposal about upgrading the standards for entrance 
and Captain Dullea got up and said that was a fine 
theory , underscoring the word theory. Reflecting 
one of his predecessor s points of view, that pre 
decessor being a Captain Matheson. Duncan Matheson 
had said some years before that Vollmer might be a 
very interesting and effective man in Berkeley, but 
he was so full of theories that he wouldn t know how 
to get a practical police job done, thus reflecting 
the kind of thing you re interested in about who didn t 
really admire Vollmer all the time. 

Yes, obviously he did get his Job done, 

In Berkeley, 

Well, Captain Matheson didn t happen to think that some 
of Vollmer s ideas were really suitable for San 
Francisco, which he considered to be a much more sophis 
ticated community than anything in northern California. 

Why weren t they suitable? 

Captain Matheson didn t think so. Yesterday I used 
the word status quo. I didn t know Captain Matheson 
but I assume he was afflicted to some extent with 
this status quo position, and which I said yesterday 
is understandable to me. Having said at the Sacra 
mento meeting that these things wouldn t work, Vollmer 
slipped one of the few times I m aware of, the only 
time I m aware of publicly and he made the unfortunate 
statement that he wasn t much interested in what was 


HOLSTRO! : acceptable in San Francisco because he said, "San Francisco 
Policemen are a bunch of morons, anyway." He shouldn t 
have said it, he deeply offended Captain Dullea and by 1939 
Captain Dullea hadn t gotten over it. 

JPH: This was how many years earlier? Two or... 
HOLSTROM: Just a couple of years, or more. 

JPH: That s a long time to hold a (trudge. 

HOLSTROM: No, it isn t. That isn t a long time to hold a grudge if 
you re interested in that facet. This man who I consider 
to be a great Irishman and who was, I repeat, a great 
personal friend in later years. Dullea, among his other 
characteristics he had a personal system for taking care 
of people he didn t like and didn t admire and his system 
was very simple they simply didn t exist. He didn t 
see them, he didn t hear them and he refused to discuss 
them. When I got to know him real well In later years 
and happened to mention a name that was objectionable 
to him the most that he would ever do was say "Yes, I ve 
met him, "that was Dullea. 

In addition to or following the San Francisco thing, not 
only was Dullea very unhappy with Vollner, but that meant 
he was unhappy with Berkeley, the Berkeley police force 
and unhappy with Berkeley. I ve been told by one of his 
drivers that as a Captain and later the Chief of Police 
of Can Francisco, if he could, he would attempt to detour 
Berkeley because Berkeley was one of those things he 
wanted to ignore. This was a characteristic of that 
very strong man. 

Bring it back to Vollmer again. I don t recall that 
Captain Dullea himself ever did acknowledge that four 
of us spent a year in San Francisco, but we became 
acceptable to his elite squad of elites, which was the 
Robbery Detail where we gained very close friends. I 
don t recall that I ever spoke to Captain Dullea the 
entire year of 1939. To begin to relate this to Volljner, 
I became a Police Chief in 19^ and went to my first 
State Police Officer conference, attended mostly by 
Police Chiefs in Fresno. I was thirty- five years old 

KOLSTROM: which was strike one, very young. I presume, that I 
probably was the lonesomest fellow in Fresno , because 
this was simply the way it was. This what we used to 
call a closed corporation and these men were interested 
in each other. They knew each other and nobody extended 
himself to say hello to me. So I attended the meeting 
for about three days feeling very much like a forgotten 
orphan. I came home and happened to be talking to Chief 
Vollmer in his home one day and he wanted to know how 
the first meeting went in Fresno and the year possibly 
was 19 1 * 1 * or U5. So I told him about this experience 
and he said, well, that s regrettable. I m sure that 
it wasn t deliberate, you must realize that these nen 
are friends and have associated for years and nobody 
was thoughtful enough to take you under his wing. 

I was told years later by Dullea what happened. Mind 
you now, they hadn t spoken since 1937, mind you of 
the allegation of detouring Berkeley by this Irishman. 
Chief Vollmer called hiir. on the telephone and said, 
"Charlie, there s something you could do and I think 
this has gone on long enough. We have a fine young 
man who is the Chief of Police in Berkeley and the 
outlook is he s going to be there for a long time. 
This is ridiculous and I think the first thing that 
we d better do is admit that it is and I have a direct 
request to rake of you because I kno^. that your interest 
in the police service will transcend any personal feel 
ings that you may have. It is a constructive interest 
and I believe it to be. Charles, I would appreciate it 
if you would call Holstrom and invite him over to your 
office and make up your own mind about him and if you 
are at all favorably impressed there are ever so many 
things you can do for him, for the Berkeley Pepartment , 
maybe perhaps for your own Department in the process 
and you can do it and nobody else can. And so it 
happened . 

The result of that was and we re talking about what did 
he r.ean to my own career Charlie Dullea, next to 
Vollner and Greening, and perhaps next to Vollmer had 
more of an effect upon my career than anyone else. He, 
Dullea, had been a President of the California Peace 
Officer s Association. Once the Irishman decided to 
forgive, by 1950, I was President of the C.P.O.A. under 
Dullea s sponsorship, by 1957 at Honolulu I was elected 
President of the International Association of Chiefs of 
Police and Dullea before ne had been President of both 
of then. When I went to my second IACP conference in 


HOLSTROM: Duluth, Mr. and Mrs. Dullea saw to it that I was never 
alone, either at the time of the meetings or socially 
in the evenings. Mrs. Dullea because of her age became 
something like a second mother to my wife. This all 
happened because Vollmer thought it should and Dullea 
was willing to do it. I became a member of the Board 
of Governors of the Bureau of Criminal Identification 
and Investigation. I inherited Dullea 1 s position after 
his retirement. This was traceable to Dullea and Vollmer. 

JRH: Of course, you got to know him too. 

HOLSTROM: Well, I got to know him very well, but it was the 

breaking of the ice that did it; something I probably 
never could have accomplished. I m sure my Chief 
Greening could not have accomplished it and I don t 
know anybody else who could. 

JKH: Did he try to get Dullea earlier, like in 39? What 

happened? Did Vollmer try to intervene for you in 1939? 

HGLSTBOK: i,"o! Only after I became a Police Chief. Well so much 
for that anecdote. Another one about Vollmer when you 
talk about did he try to do anything? One of the 
positions that he took after his retirement was that 
retired police chiefs should never, except under extreme 
circumstances, go back and appear at their own police 
departments. This distressed me, after 19^. I once 
asked him why and he said, "For the very simple reason 
that I don t believe that people who have no responsibility 
should take it upon themselves to kibbitz on the other 
fellow s operation. I d never come into the Hall of 
Justice unless it s at your insistent invitation." 

JRH: But, you mentioned that at some point, I m not sure if 

it was when you were Chief or not, that he did sometimes 
talk to potential police candidates after he left the 
force or before they would be put on the force. 

HOLSTROM: He talked to lots of people and I think I would like to 
leave the response to that to a later section of this 
report about influences he had. This will have to do 
with the people he saw after retirement. Is that all 

JRH: Yes, because apparently he did have an influence even 
after he left . 

HOLSTROM: Tremendous influence! 

JPH: You said he wouldn t supersede somebody s authority, 
but he still would influence. 

HOLSTROM: I said he wouldn t visit the Berkeley Police Department. 
His favorite phrase was "John, if there s anything you 
want, Just ring the bell." I heard this up until the 
week of his death. So much for that. I guess, Jane, 
we re still on the subject of anecdotes and there was 
something I wanted to be sure to say to you, I have in 
my hand, and it s in the list of publications of the 
supplement that I prepared for you, a reference to a book, 
which is "The Crime Fighter: August Vollmer," by Alfred 
Parker. I must say, if I didn t say yesterday, that 
this book was disappointing to some people, probably 
including me. However, it is a collection of anecdotes. 
I have heard if not all, most of them from Vollmer 
himself, so there s little point in repeating what Al 
Parker said in the book. 

There are the anecdotes there about Vollner, in answer 
to one of your off the tape preliminary questions about 
Vollraer s early days his youth, his background, his 
military service in the Spanish-American War, his being 
a mail carrier in Berkeley, how he became elected City 
Marshal, the clean-up platform that he stood on then. 
As he used to say, to chase out of town the gamblers, 
most of whom were Chinese; the prostitutes, many of whom 
vacationed here, some of whom worked here; and to do 
something about the 1905 controversy about what we today 
politely call alcoholic beverages. This is all related 
in Parker s book, I ve heard these stories before, I 
could read the book to you, but why should I; it would 
take up too much time on the tape. 

I have no ideas, as I said yesterday, what will be con 
tained in Parker s forthcoming book, The History of the 
Berkeley Police Department or The Berkeley Police Story, 
as I think it s going to be called. I assume there will 
be more of this kind of thing, and so I d Just as soon 
drop the anecdotes at this point. I really don t have 
any others that occur to me at the moment. 

JRH: You don t know, you re saying, about the early period 
of his life. You don t know anything, anymore stories 
essentially, but what s contained in there. 

HOLSTROM: Essentially, I do not. Nov, I have two or three 

documents here, that are referred to in the supplement 
also. The most reliable one probably is titled "The 
History of the Berkeley Police Department," the revision 


HOLSTROM: of which was developed by then Lieutenant Ton Johnson 
in 1956. There are in it some brief statements tinder 
the caption of "Law Enforcement in the Pre-Vollmer Era," 
and then there is another major caption "Law Enforcement 
in the Vollner Era" and what he did then. These supple 
ments tend to validate what Parker has said. As a 
matter of fact Parker s material probably came from 
two sources; one was Vollmer himself to Parker, and the 
other was Berkeley police training outlines, which I 
am sure that he must have used for the book that is 

JRH: You mean the course outlines for training? 

HOLSTROM: One of their courses is on the history of the Berkeley 

Police Department. They were used in their basic training 
school and still are. 

JRH: We d only be interested in that early period if you knew 
something more than Parker has given us , from your own 
experience and things that Vollmer had told you. Things 
actually that for instance, you talked with Spenger. 
You said he might give us an idea of what Berkeley was 
like at the time that Vollmer was elected Marshal, or 
something . 

HOLSTROM: I m sure as I mentioned to you yesterday that Frank Spenger 
ST., who is at least in his 80 s has a clear memory. Of 
course, he can tell us a great deal about that period. We 
mentioned this yesterday when we were reviewing the chapter 
in the supplement that I keep referring to about friends 
and associates of Vollmer who are still alive. 

JRH: You didn t come to Berkeley until Well, you were born in 
1909 and didn t come until after that, after high school or 

HOLSTROM: No, I went to school here from 1926, here at the University 
to 1930. 

JRH: That s what I meant, you weren t a child in this area, so you 
wouldn t. . . . 

HOLSTROM: Well, I was brought up in the South, in Tennessee, and the 

last two years of high school my family returned to California, 
lived in Oakland down by the lake and I finished high school 
in Oakland. Then I came to Berkeley and during the years I 
was in college I took a summer course froir. Vollmer. I didn t 
know anything about policemen and I d never seen one around 


HOLSTROM: my house and I probably was never west of Ellsworth Street 
the four years that I was in college. The only policeman 
I knew was Officer Browning who put traffic tags on my 
Model-T Ford for parking it down at Sather Gate. I had a 
running contest with Mr. Browning for four years trying 
to talk him out of traffic tags. This was all I knew 
about policemen; I had no interest in them. They didn t 
bother me and I wasn t aware of them. They didn t mean 
a thing in the world in my young life. 

JRH: You mentioned that your family was opposed to you becoming 
a policeman. 

HOLSTROM: I Just found that out last Sunday when my 91 year old 
mother was over for dinner and I told her what I was 
doing and she said your father and I were opposed. I 
said, you didn t ever tell me, and she said that wasn t 
the way we did things. We had your uncle tell you, but 
we didn t tell you. We weren t very happy with you until 
your career turned out all right in our opinion. I never 
heard that one before. 

JFH: Gene said that when you were a college student it wasn t 
so common to become a policeman. 

HOLSTROM: It was not at all common. However, Vollmer and his so- 
called college cops began before the era of Walter Gordon, 
for example, and before the era of General Dean; around 
1919-1921 or so. I learned in San Francisco, as a patrolman 
when I used to go over with one of the inspectors and go to 
the detective line-ups, that there were two things you didn t 
talk about over there and I m not reflecting on San Francisco 
today, I m talking about the 1930" s. I was a very young man. 
I was in my twenties. Two things you didn t say, one was 
you didn t emphasize you were from Berkeley and you certainly 
didn t emphasize that you went to the University, even when 
in the City of Oakland. I learned this in my 20 s as a young 

JRH: Well, things haven t changed too much, have they? Was it the 
same kind of, in a sense there s some kind of rivalry with 
Berkeley being some kind of intellectual center? 

HOLSTROM: No, not anymore I think. San Francisco s Director Ed Conber 
was a member of this faculty of the School of Criminology. 

JRH: I wasn t thinking so much in terms of the P.D., Just in general, 



HOLSTROM: I vas speaking generally, too. Oakland has had great emphasis 
on education and we ve had any number of Oakland policemen as 
students in the f-chool of Cririnology. The incumbent Chief 
Charles Gain is interested in education and as a matter of fact 
is a member of the Advisory Council of the School of Crimino 
logy today, as is the police chief of Berkeley. If there is 
resentment in some police circles today, I think it isn t a 
matter of being concerned about the Berkeley police department, 
those days are gone. What used to disturb people was the 
publicity Vollmer got and the reputation led to the invidious 
comparisons that were made. 

I don t pet in what sense they were critical, that they were 
because they were training college kids? 

No, it was because there was so much publicity worldwide 
about Berkeley and sometimes comparisons were made with 
San Francisco or Oakland. 

Unfavorably I 

Unfavorably and, right or wrong, people don t appreciate being 
compared with somebody who some people think are better than 
they are. If there are resentments today in police circles then 
that s a different story, that runs to the whole University. 
A lack of sympathy or even understanding about the University 
and what is regarded as extreme premissiveness of the Univer 
sity administration and faculty. The disorders that go back 
to 196U on this campus. There are some feelings statewide 
about the University of California; right or wrong, it s a 
fact. Then, there are other people beside policemen who are 
unhappy about the University of California. I don t want to 
make a speech about this but everybody knows who pays attention 
to anything on this campus. This runs to the incumbent state 
administration and to the legislature and such things as 
faculty salaries. A very long story, which has nothing to do 
with Vollmer. 

JRH: The resentment in those days was more specifically related to 
the fact that they were considered an elite cop corps getting 
so much attention. 

HOLSTROM: That was their worldwide reputation for which Vollmer was 

responsible. An extraordinary amount of national publicity, 
even international about this little police department in a 
small town. 


Why do you think it got so much publicity? 


HOLSTP.OM: Because of Vollmer 1 

JRH: Did he promote the publicity? It was unusual, I guess. 

HOLSTROM: He had a greater sense of publicity than anybody I ever net 
and I suppose now maybe we re talking about Vollmer the man; 
I don t know what subject matter this falls under. In the 
days of Vollraer s incumbency and even to right around the 
time of World War II, we didn t have television. We had 
some radio, some newscasts, some special programs, but the 
media, the channels, were newspapers; and Vollmer really 
understood how to get along with newspapers. The Berkeley 
Gazette supported him tremendously and I inherited that 
support. I didn t invent it, the Oakland Tribune under 
J.R. Knowland, Sr., who was the publisher and during all of 
the years that Rose Glavinovich, a very capable newspaperwoman 
was the dean of the Berkeley Press Corps. The Police Depart 
ment in Berkeley for many years got a good deal more column 
inches in the Oakland Tribune than did the Oakland Police, 
for example, because Vollmer knew how to get along with the 

JP.H: It s sort of surprising if there was so much resentment, 
say, of the Oakland Police, of Berkeley Police, that they 
would print this stuff about what he was doing. 

HOLSTROM: It was a metropolitian newspaper and it wasn t owned by the 
City of Oakland. It was owned by J.R. Knowland. 

JRH: How did he, he Just got on well with Knowland? He d always 
send his stuff down to him or what? 

HOLSTROM: He dealt through Rose Glavinovich who was one of his 
protegees, even though she was a newspaper woman. 

JRH: She was what? Dean of the Berkeley press? 

HOLSTROM: Police Press Corps. Rose was extremely capable. People trusted 
her. I did and Vollmer did. She was based in the Police 
Department in the Press Room. 

JPH: She was paid by the City or by the Berkeley P.L., or she was a 
member of the paper staff? 

HOLSTROM: lk>, she worked for the Tribune and her first loyalty was to 
her publisher and boss Mr. Knowland. 

JRH: But her office was in your, in the Police Department? 


HOLFTROM: The Police Department furnished a Press Office. 
JRH: That was handy! 

HGLSTROK: Yes! Way up until the time I retired and perhaps later, 
full time representation from the Tribune , the Gazette, 
the Examiner and the Chronicle, and in the days when it 
was published, the Oakland Post Inquirer, they were housed 
right in the iriddle of the Detective Division. 

JBH: So you had five press people working, stationed at the T.D. 
full time . 

HOLSTROM: With open access to the files. 

JPH: That s important to the press people too. That s something 
they always complain about they don t have enough action. 

HOLSTTOM: This was an extraordinary unioue press relationship that went 
on well into the early part of ny administration. It was such 
a feelinf of confidence, not always honored, but most of the 
time, so that Vollmer was able, my predecessor Greening was 
able and I was able, on an extremely selective basis, to record 
a case, give it a serial number and put a notice on what we 
call the daily bulletin, which carried a synopsis of every case 
we handled; we were able to put on it a notation no publicity 
and this was honored by the press . We had to be very careful 
not to overdo it. Times changed and it was no longer handled 
in that fashion. They have now a Berkeley Police Press Officer. 
They no longer have access to the files. 

JP.K: They no longer have office space in your.... 

HOLSTROM: I don t know whether or not they have office space. I don t 
think so. I haven t inquired in the last four or five years 
when this change came about. 

JHH: Did Vollrer request that all of these people come and be 
stationed there? 

HOLSTROM: I. o, the newspapers sent them because this was a source of news. 

JRH: normally a police department is not a real big source of news 
or maybe it was more so 

HOLSTPOM: It was more so maybe five, ten years ago than it is today. 
All you have to do is pick up the newspaper and read the 
crime news and interested people still do. The only difference 
is today that homicides very frequently tend to be on the inside 
pages. Five years ago they were on the front page. F.ose can 

HOLSTROM: tell you more about the press than I can; she lived with it. 
I ve told you toy relationship with her was and is very close. 

JRH: That was very interesting because it shows how he got his 

ideas across. He had all these people there and they wrote 
up all his press releases for bin. 

HOLSTROM: Oh, he didn t write them, they wrote them. If he thought 

there was something that they might be interested in or that 
he was interested in, then he d call them in and tell them. 
He was meticulous that if one newspaper reporter knew it, 
all of them should know it ; because he knew enough to get 
along with City Editors. They re not always easy people to 
get along with, I ll tell you from experience. Well, the 
press thing is a subject you can get Rose to talk about, she 
can tell you. 

IV: "What was Vollmer s Professional Impact? What were the major 
ideas and principles that Vollmer stood for? What were the 
major influences Vollmer had on Police in education and 
training or in other areas?" 

JFH: I think that what we want here is the same thing you said 

about the Parker book; I don t think there is much need for 
us to go over what has already been printed or what you know 
that s written somewhere else, but from your point of viev 
either to give a sense of... Like the last thing, the publicity, 
it gave us an idea of how he got his ideas across. Something 
in relation to that or how his ideas came from his personality. 
Not so much what is recorded in writing elsewhere. 

HOLSTEOM: Well, vhat was Vollaer s professional impact? Again, I would 
refer you to that book The Crime Fighter by Parker. I would 
also refer you to what I consider to be a not very good book, 
which is listed in the supplementary, by V.A. Leonard titled 
The Police of the Twentieth Century . Leonard is really not 
precisely accurate all the time, but you can gain from Leonard s 
book some of Leonard s impressions, and they re essentially 
correct, of Vollaer s professional impact. I would say simply, 
and it cannot be honestly challenged by anyone, that he was 
often called, as most of who know believe it today, the father 
of modern police administration. I say this without Qualifi 
cation or exception of any kind. That was his broad professional 

JTUI: Some of the things he stood for, I guess and what you ve told 

me, like training, educating them, the use of fingerprinting 
where do you think he got the ideas? What I m interested in 
is how he cot to thinking that way. 


HOLSTPGM: How did he get to thinking the way he did? Let s see, first 
I m confident that his abstract intelligence level was very 
high. I believe that people of that kind have very high 
imaginations; I believe that his high imagination led him to 
the things that one could call his own innovations. He didn t 
really care whether he thought them up or somebody else did. 
If he didn t innovate them, to use that word, then he adapted 
them or he adopted them and he didn t much care who got the 
credit for them; it didn t make any difference to him. He was 
only interested in whether something was useful; if it was he 
would use it. If he attempted it and found out it wasn t useful 
he dropped it. It didn t disturb him that some things didn t 
work for him or somebody else. He took the view that if out of 
several ideas one was useful that was worthwhile; it was his 
same view about people. If someone he recommended was successful, 
if one out of ten was his score, there was a certain satisfation 
for him. 

JKH: Sometimes, though, if he recommended things that don t work, 
people you didn t think were too competent? 

HOLSTROM: What he was able to do though that some of today s innovators 
that I spoke disparagingly of yesterday do not, is that some 
of these latter-day people who are trying desperately to inno 
vate and who are unable to apply those innovations successfully 
are quite different from this man. The things that he attempted 
in the main and carried through proved to be practical, useful. 

JRH: So he got usually a better than one out of ten average. 

HOLSTROM: The score was good enough so that he was the father of modern 
police administration. It wasn t all Vollner, it was Vollmer 
and the people around him and the people he encouraged. This 

was by no means a one man show, from the start, 
in Parker s book. 

That s reflected 

What were the major ideas and principles that he stood for? I 
suppose that this can be answered in several ways, though one 
is that he believed in almost absolute honesty and integrity 
as concerned himself and his people. Of course, this gained 
him respect , even among people who would have like to have been 
less than honest as he would have liked. 

That reminds me -of another anecdote. One of the interesting 
series of things that some of us observed over the years. A 
number of people he communicated with by letter, the number of 
people who came to see him who were actually inmates of the big 
prisons or were ex-inmates. Dean Chernin will tell you that, 
it used to disturb him even in the years that Vollmer was on 
the campus in the 1930 s, by the number of ex-inmates of an 
Quentin who came to call on the Chief. 

HOLSTPOM: I have no difficulty in recalling that his inspectors carried 

on correspondence with people that they had sent to Can Quentin 
and I think the Leonard book indicates that among the other 
people he encouraged were two people who wrote books while 
they were in prison. I have now forgotten the titles. One of 
them was You Can t Win"by a man by the name of Jack Black, who 
wrote this book before that summer session who was in San Quen 
tin and another one was a man, I think his name was Sutherland. 
In any event this is in Leonard s book. 

He was a kind man, a compassionate man and he was the author of 
the statement, "Everytime the doors of San Quentin, which was 
then our leading prison, opened to admit somebody, they also 
opened to release somebody." So these people are not put away 
forever and you can t ignore them. There was another relation 
ship that he maintained. Interesting one! 

JBH: How would he get to know the Inmates? When they were released 
from San Quentin, they would come to talk? Or they would be... 

HOLSTPOM: Sometimes they d come and talk to hiir. He had it arranrert, so 
the Record Bureau was notified about all releases from state 

JRH: Gene said he had quite a tine arranging that, that was resisted. 
The first notices were Just to San Francisco, Oakland or r.ore- 

HOLSTPOM: Berkeley had the first arrangement of this kind in this area 
so far as I know and that was somewhat before my time. By 
the time I got there this was routine; it no longer happens. 
It doesn t fit in with modern penology for a policeman to 
know who s been paroled. That s a different subject too. 

Let s talk about principles. He had another principle that 
was firmly established by 1931, the time T got there, and 
this has to do with the use of force. We were talking about 
the third degree and most people relate this to physical 
force. Every Berkeley police recruit became aware immediately 
about that one. We had rules and regulations, but some of 
them were flexible. There were some that were not flexible. 
Dishonesty was inflexible! On force, the rule was very s5irnle. 
I heard him refer to it more than once. I heard it from him 
when I was a police recruit. It was that no Berkeley police 
man should ever strike any person, particularly a prisoner, 
except in extreme self-defense; and then he said, if you ever 
do, you have Just resigned. You needn t bother to come in and 
discuss it and this one he meant. 

IIOLCTROM: I remember his returning perhaps in 1932 from the University 
of Chicago and Captain Lee had been the acting police chief. 
I think I remember this, but I may have read it in depart 
mental meeting minutes, he took occasion to say at this 
departmental meeting; they wanted a comment about an inci 
dent that occured while he was away that he had discussed 
with the Captain upon his return. It might have been 
possible to rationalize it, he said, but it was necessary, 
so I Just want to tell you that, first, the Captain made 
the decision. I wasn t here, and so his decision stands. 
All the Captain did was to admonish the policeman. He 
said, Had I been here, if he had not immediately resigned, 
I would have fired him. I want no one to misunderstand my 
position. I ve said enough about that. I m sure you 
understand me." We had no difficulty understanding. 

This was as late as the 1930 s. The physical third degree, 
the beating, perhaps for no real good reason, perhaps to 
extract confessions, was not uncommon in this country- It 
probably was touched upon in the Vickershain Report, which 
Vollmer worked on in the 1930 s. 

Today Berkeley police have what they call their Police 
Regulations. Current police regulations were produced 
under my administration in 1950 when we updated the old 
192U regulations because we couldn t apply them. It s 
true that these were developed by a committee of policemen 
representative of all ranks with me, the Chief, reserving 
the final decision on what would go into it and what 
would not go into it. By and large, while Vollmer had 
nothing to do directly with these regulations they were 
the product of people who had been taught the Vollmer 
ideals and the Vollmer principles and reference to those 
police rules today would be a very fair reflection of 
Vollmer. They were so carefully discussed and carefully 
written that this is 1971 and although they ve been 
modified necessarily because of the passage of time, they 
are not only enforceable, but they re almost self-enforcing. 
Everybody understands them and they re not Just a set of 
regulations that people ignore, which so often happens to 
rules and regulations . These are the standards of the 
Department today and this is a very direct product of the 
Vollmer influence, written by those of us who either 
served with him or followed him and were subjected to his 

JRH: I m curious about one aspect, and I think Gene s interested, 
and that is how a man gets that sort of mind. Was it from 
his family? 

HOLSTROM: I don t know! O.W. Wilson, who you and I are going to see 

in fan liepo this Friday, may know about this. I think it s 
Just the kind of man he was. I have no idea. I don t know 
who influenced him. I an quite sure that his parents did, 
but to what degree I don t know. He was a man of high prin 

I m sure that you have seen cartoons or heard about the 
policeman taking the apple from the peddler s stand. The 
policeman and gratuities. I ve heard dozens of stories. 
It may be true today about policemen taking advantage of 
what is supposed to be their position free cigarettes, 
free cigars, free liquor, free meals. This is Just the 
beginning of the whole thing, of pay-offs of various kinds. 
Vollmer had a very clear and firm policy on this from the 
very outset and that is that no Berkeley policeman could 
accept gratuities. Gratuities may have been the rule rather 
than the exception when I became a policeman in 1931, but 
not in Berkeley. You did not accept even a free cup of 
coffee. You paid for it. You didn t accept anything else 
and I c confident that it s true today. I know that it was 
true up to I960, through my own period of service. This 
was carried to the point that some people thought was the 

On those occasions where gifts, gratuities were sent to 
Berkeley policemen or given to them, the rule was clear. 
It was promptly reported; the material, whatever it was 
money or goods , was promptly turned into the Personnel 
Officer. The recipient was given the opportunity to 
return it to the donor; if he didn t chose to do so the 
Personnel Officer did, with thanks and an explanation 
that it could not be accepted even though it was given 
in good faith by someone who thought the policemen did 
something extraordinary and it was a gift from the heart. 
Sometimes, and I had to do it myself, people were not 
always happy about getting gifts returned; but they were 
returned with the best explanations that we had. 

I think of one or two occasions where those things were 
not promptly reported and the policemen found themselves 
in difficulty and it was major difficulty. Do you want 
me to give you an illustration or are we wasting tape? 
After Vollmer retired we had a policeman, I had a tele 
phone call from the then Superintendent of the very large 
Heinz plant in Berkeley, who had grown up in Berkeley, 


HOLSTKOM: and he said, Chief, I want to tell you something. You have 
an officer who s been very friendly with my people and we re 
glad to have him around. The Superintendent said that, 
"The other day he approached one of my foremen and said it 
would be nice if he had a case of catsup and so my foreman 
gave it to him. 1 A case of catsup means nothing whatever 
to me or the Keinz Co., but I didn t think it was in con 
formity with the Berkeley policy and he said, I don t want 
to get this man in trouble." 

The result of this was that we interviewed the policeman, we 
had a staff discussion about it and we applied what we 
thought were the principles that we d learned from Vollmer. 
We decided not to fire him; we suspended him for two weeks 
and we reduced him to the bottom of the seniority list 
which affected his assignments, required him to work nights, 
he lost his vacation selection. We did everything to him 
short of separation, lie stayed at the bottom of that seniority 
list for a year on good behavior. At the end of the year we 
restored him. We had made our point. 

JRH: To everybody else tool 

HCLSTROiM: Well, certainly I Whether this was reasonable or unreasonable, 
at least this was an adherence to what we thought we were 
taught . 

JRIi: I guess the guy said that s the important kind of thing to 

HOLSTROM: Well, so much for gratuities! We were not permitted to accept 
witness fees. We went to Court in the early days on our own 
overtime and in latter days we were paid by the City. The 
witness fees were paid by the Court. They reverted to the 
City Treasury. On this subject, of not accepting things, in 
my early years it was a rule rather than the exception for 
there to be police balls, dances, that is. Policemen sold 
tickets, going out and selling them to people under some 
duress. There was never a police ball in Berkeley, although 
there certainly were in neighboring cities. The principle 
was simple that you simply don t seek favors and then you 
have no obligations to repay them. Ke was attempting to 
professionalize; an attempt that is still going on. 
I think that s about all for the moment on your subject about 
ideas and principles. 

You asked what were the major influences that Vollmer had on 
policing? A subject that would reouire considerable develop 
ment; again, I refer you to the Leonard and the Parker books. 

JRH: Well, I guess we can skip most of that because most of it 
is recorded in the books . 

HOLSTROM: One thing that isn t recorded and that was a major Influence 
that continues right up to this month, was that Vollmer in 
these books and elsewhere was recorded that he did a number 
of administrative surveys, administrative studies to re 
organize. And these ranged from all kinds of places, Japan, 
Kansas City, Chicago, Havana. Inspector Woods going to 
Nanking. On the subject of surveys, because this had a 
major influence, it really is not recorded, I have it recorded 
in a term paper that a police officer from the Philippines 
did for me in the School in a Criminology course in 1963. 
He cane here, he was interested in administrative service and 
asked me if I wanted to undertake a special project and what 
I knew about Vollmer and he developed a book, a term report 
which I have in my possession. It s titled, An Analysis of 
Organization and Administrative Surveys in Police Departments 
in the United States." The Phillipine Kational s name was 
Vivencio Austere. The largest collection of police studies 
of this kind exists in the combined collection of the Insti 
tute of Governmental Studies on the Campus here, in the 
Berkeley Police Department, and in my own very much less 
extensive collection. 

Sometime about 19M, a Lieutenant by the name of Bowers and 
I spent every Tuesday night for a year with him in a two- 
man seminar on the subject of police surveys. Out of that 
grew some extensive activity in this connection. "Tien, 
Vollrcer himself had sent people out to do surveys. 

JP.H: You mean in the sense of management studies? 

HOLSTROM: Yes, management studies I We called them surveys, for better 
or for worse. O.W. Wilson did some and there were other 
people under Vollmer who did. Captain, later Chief, Greening 
did a 1932 study of the Honolulu Police Department following 
the Massie case, a famous case in the way of history. In 1932, 
Greening did one that I recall in San Rafael. Then my memory 
really carries me to my own incumbency as the Police Chief 
and then subsequently my own staff which I used as an advisory 
group. We decided on a number of policies. One of them was 
that we would attempt to see that every officer from the rank 
of Lieutenant and above, and there were only a handful, would 
have the opportunity to do at least one of these and I think 
of any nurter of them that were done. Captain, then Lieutenant 
John Lindouist, a simple one in Walnut Creek; later a compli 
cated one at Anchorage, Alaska, which is a very involved story. 


HOLSTROM: There was a lot of local difficulty, undone at the request of 
the City Manappr, whose Job war. in Jeopardy at that time. 
Lieutenant Whaley at Des Moines; I think of Lieutenant Sickler 
at perhaps Manteca, and some in Eureka. These are in addition 
to the ones that are recorded about Vollmer himself. At one 
point most of these studies in this country were done by 
Vollmer and then by O.W. Wilson based on what he had learned 
from Vollmer. I think of then Lieutenant, now Chief of Campus 
Police, William Beall at Medford, Oregon, in 1951. There were 

JRH: There were a great many people. 

HOLSTROM: Yes, a lot of them. Now, the outgrowth of this, was that these 
ranking officers had these experiences and they came back to 
us broader people for having thought about these things, for 
having to apply the Vollmer principles. In the year that I 
was president of the International Association of Chiefs of 
Police we established the Field Service Division of IACP 
which today does the bulk of these studies with a highly 
competent staff. 

JRH: Field Service Division of what? 

HOLSTROM: International Association of Chiefs of Police. It s an inter 
esting commentary that today s director of the Field Service 
Division of the IACP is a man by the name of Roy McLaren; Roy 
was a Berkeley policeman and a student of mine for a year. 
There are several other people on that IACP staff who came 
from Berkeley or from Oakland. This is traceable directly to 
Vollmer. Captain Greening, incidentally, did one of Santa 
Barbara in 1937. V.A. Leonard in Seattle. There are a number 
of them, that s my point. The present Police Chief of Alameda, 
formerly Berkeley Police Captain Richard Young surveyed 
Klamath Falls. 

Now in my own case after I retired in I960, I began to do a 
number of these. My own bio-sketch of which you have a copy 
of will reflect this. That bio-sketch lists perhaps a dozen 
or so and if you re interested in this, the smallest one, 
(I ve had to answer this question before "What was the 
smallest one you ever did?") I hold an international distinc 
tion. I once spent two months studying the two-man police 
department of the exclusive community of Ross, California. 
The largest one I have done alone was 1967 on Honolulu with a 
complement of 1105 people. The most extensive thing I ve ever 
gotten mixed up with was not a survey, but a study of law 
enforcement agencies of the Treasury Department. That, I felt 
I was not capable of doing alone so it was done for the Secre 
tary of the Treasury by me with Bruce Smith, Sr. and O.W. Wilson 


HOLSTROM: in about 1953. What I knew and what Wilson knew derived 

principally from Vollmer and his ideas, probably embellished 
by our own thoughts, adapting to whatever the situation was. 

We re on the subject of his influences on policing, I need 
not relate here because it s in the books about the influences 
in the field of transportation, the Berkeley innovation or 
adaptations of the use of the bicycle as early as 1906, the 
use of the motorcycle, the early use of the automobile. The 
early developments in Berkeley, although not the first in 
police radio, in the area of communications for example. 

Influences on education, you ask? Awhile ago we were attempting 
to establish a date and the current bulletin, the 1970-71 
bulletin of the School of Criminology says in its opening sentence 
that the study of criminology in Berkeley began in a summer 
program in 19l6. A program designed by Vollmer and 
Alexander Kidd, who was a professor of law, evolved into a 
group major; which was in political science in 1933 and was 
still in political science when I began teaching in 19^5; that 
grew into the School of Criminology which was established in 
1950. Now, this is education, as distinguished from training. 

You asked me how the School was developed? Vollmer had dreamt 
about it for more than thirty years , as he explained to me one 
time, when I became relatively impatient before 1950, and I 
was attempting to help, in a modest way, Dr. Paul Kirk who was 
making the necessary arrangements with the Academic Senate to 
get the School established. It was established because Vollmer 
had dreamed of it and it was established directly in 1950; its 
establishment was possible because there had been enough deve 
lopment behind it at that time and because two close friends 
of his were in the positions they were. One was Robert Gordon 
Sproul, who was president of the University and the other was 
a close personal friend of his, Monroe Deutsch, who was then what 
they called the Provost of the University and was in charge of 
this campus. It was with the support of Sproul and Deutsch that 
Vollmer was encouraged to direct the efforts of Paul Kirk and 
my contribution was very nodest indeed! I was on the faculty 
and did not have the academic stature that Kirk, did, but I was 
highly involved and it was I instead of O.W. Wilson, only because 
at the time that the ground work was done, in about the period 
U6- U7, O.W. was still on duty with the Military Occupation 
Forces in Germany. 

That s how the School of Criminology got started. Summer 
sessions and the early Berkeley Police Training School are 
described in Parker s book. I ve referred so many times to 
the utilization of people in the academic disciplines in the 
University and their incidental utilization in criminal 


KOLSTPOM: investigations. People in all kinds of endeavors up here 
in the natural sciences, in forestry, for example, because 
of the interest in woods, in evidence in wood. In any event 
the training school by the middle of the 1930 s had evolved 
into something that Vollmer had long thought about and that 
was the establishment of some kind of a school in an educa 
tional institution of higher learning. 

There was a man who was president of San Jose State College, 
it escapes me at the moment, but Brereton or Schmidt can tell 
you, was sympathetic to this idea. Earl Warren, who was then 
District Attorney of Alameda County and Vollmer were clone 
friends. Warren, of course, because he was a lawyer, knew 
about the value of education and it was due to the efforts 
of these three men in the middle 1930 s the first Police 
School the School of Police Administration at San Jose 
State began. That was the nucleus of police education and 
traininr these are two different words that have 
evolved into courses variously titled Police Science, Police 
Administration, or even Criminology today, in over seventy 
State and Junior colleges in the State of California. This 
is more than is given in the other forty-nine states combined. 
It s directly traceable to one man whose name was Vollmer and 
this is no exaggeration I 

JRH: I know Gene is Just going to be one of the people starting 
the undergraduate program at this college and 

HGLSTROM: That s right. Gene is getting ready to go to some place like 
Trenton State College. 

JRH: They ve never had a Criminology program. 

HOLSTROM: Ho, they ve never had one. There is substantial expansion in 
the country in the last very few years. It was brought about 
in no srall measurement because the national and state admini 
strations are concerned about crime in the streets. As every 
body knows Congress has appropriated millions of dollars and 
there are grants available. Money is attractive to the univer 
sity administrators. This has quite a bit to do with the 
establishment of some of these programs in many colleges and 
universities in the country today. 

JRH: I m interested in moving on, it s getting later and I m inte 
rested in hearing what you have to say. Especially I m inte 
rested in the community and state activities. 


HOLSTROM: Alright, you want to talk about community and state, and I 
insist on reading this because I vent to all the trouble of 
writing it down. "What kind of man was Vollmer and what did 
he believe in?" Let me Just give you some things that I 
chose to call Vollmer isms. These are short sentences. You 
have to remember who they were beamed to; policemen in those 
late afternoon departmental meetings. I Just Jotted down 
three or four of them. This will show what kind of man he 
was! "Kill them with kindness," teaching his policemen this, 
you see. "Never hit a person except in self-defense; if you 
do, you have Just resigned." "Never argue with a drunk or 
a nut, you ll only lower yourself to his level, and you 
never strike either one of them under any provocation." 
"There could be more fair Justice disposed at the curbstone 
than in some of the highest courts." "Keep them indebted to 
you." And then I had another one in the area of anecdotes. 
Did I tell you about the Jack Webb program? 

JRH: Yes! 

HOLSTROM: Alright, then I don t have to tell you that one again. Now 
you want to move along because of the hour. In what ways, 
you asked, was Vollmer influential in the community in Berkeley? 
Well, at the outset he was elected to clean up Berkeley and he 
did so. At least up to I960, bearing in mind that Berkeley 
has been a changing community and the mores in some elements 
of this community are different. But in the prohibition era as 
a college student I knew that a bootlegger, unless he was 
stupid, wouldn t come to Berkeley. The lads in the fraternity 
houses on Piedmont Avenue met them on College and Claremont 
because that was outside of Berkeley. There were no prostitutes 
in Berkeley. I only remember two who were living here, but 
working some place else, when I was a Lieutenant. I required 
them to come in at ten o clock one night and told them I ex 
pected them to depart Berkeley at eight o clock the next morning 
and they did. That year might have been 1938, Just for example. 
Prostitution, we didn t have; gambling, we even succeeded in 
stopping card games in the Catholic church. Nobody has ever 
done this except us that I know of, except Bill Parker, who was 
Chief of Police of Los Angeles, and got the Archbishop to give 
him a hand. 

JRH: You were saying, though, over at the Oral History Department 
that Warren was more interested in cracking down on illegal 

HOLSTROM: He was! He and Vollmer were of the same mind. What Vollmer did 
was not to eradicate these kind of things , he simply pushed 
them north and south. So when I was in college and 


HOLSTROM: when I was a young policeman, there vere bootleggers, 

gamblers , and prostitutes , in Emeryville on the main street , 
Park Street. In the early l?30 s Warren went down with a 
raiding party and not only put out of business the Chinese 
gambling establishments. Under the direction of a man who 
vas head of his corps of investigators, legal or not, they 
chopped up the gambling tables as veil as some of the doors 
and windows in those places and physically arrested scores 
and scores of people. They were brought to the Berkeley 
Jail because it was considered a little more secure than 
some other places in the neighboring communities. Answer, 
yes, Warren had something to do with community problems. 

Now, was Vollmer influential in Berkeley? I think so! I 
think he did initially what he thought the community wanted 
done. I think that this continued into my own incumbency. 
I think I did what I thought the community wanted done. I 
won t take the time to recount anecdotes about gambling at 
the Elk s Club and other places that happened Just once after 
I became Chief of Police and never happened again, lior about 
taking the slot machines out of the Elk s Club, but these all 
stemmed from things that I thought Vollmer taught me, what I 
thought the community wanted at that point. At that point, 
for example, the Council of Churches was influential. I m 
not sure of this today. I think the community tended to follow 
his leadership in these things rather than his attempting to 
follow the community. He certainly was not permissive about 
vice. I really don t know his total involvement in the COETU- 
nity. I know that in 1931 he was the recipient of the Benjamin 
Ide Wheeler award; which is given biarnually to the Berkeley 
citizen who had made the greatest contribution to the community. 
Paired after a fairous president of the University it still is 
awarded. Vollmer, for the things he had done, was given this 
award in 1931. I have the original letter that was written by 
the City . lanager then, who was Hollis Thompson to Dr. Herman 
Swartz who was Chairman of the committee. 

Influence on Alameda County! Well, today the Chief of Police 
of Alameda is a recently retired Berkeley Police Captain. One 
of his predecessors in Alameda, Vern Smith, was a Berkeley 
policeman, wow, Berkeley has had a major influence on what has 
happened in Oakland in the last 15 years because a man by the 
name of Wynan Vernon became a Police Chief of Oakland and we, 
he and I, had a very close relationship. Many of the things 
he did to modernize Oakland grew out of what he knew about 
Vollmer ideas, grew out of what he learned from O.W. Wilson 
who he engaged as a consultant, and learned from his informal 
conversations with our staff. Chief Vernon was only interested 
in results and he didn t care where he got his ideas as long 
as they were useful. He was not so proud that he couldn t ask 

HOLSTROM: aonebody else. This is a little different than the vay some 
people react. Vollmer had a major influence on policing in 
Berkeley and Alaneda County, in California, in the United 
States and to some extent internationally, just to summarize it. 

JKH: Gene irentioned that he and Warren worked together. I don t 
know whether it was when Warren was the District Attorney or 
when Warren became Governor. 

HOLSTBOM: Warren was District Attorney of Alameda County. He was Attorney 
General of California and he was Governor of California; then 
he was the Chief Justice. 

JEK: At some point at any rate, did they work together to get legis 
lation passed for progressive police activity? Was that during 
the time when he was Attorney General or Governor? 

HOLSTROM: Warren was not Attorney General until after Vollmer s retirement. 
Ify own relationship with Warren as Attorney General and Governor 
was a very close one. This is something, out of all these things 
I did, I didn t invent, I inherited. I used to say to people I 
didn t invent the Berkeley Police Department, I inherited it. 
All I wanted to do was to try to leave it as good as I found it, 
I like to think I did. 

The development of the Ctate Bureau of Criminal Identification 
and Investigation is recounted in Parker s book. The develop 
ment that led to the establishment of the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation grew out of Vollmer s activities, actually pre 
ceded by activities of others ahead of him in the National 
Bureau of Identification which was in existence at the time of 
the landmark conference of the International Association of 
Chiefs of Police in 1922 when Vollmer became its president. 
Probably that s a landmark conference because there were estab 
lished some study groups of police chiefs dedicated to improving 
the police service and it was unquestionably due to Vollmer s 
leadership at that conference. 

I think I said it yesterday that he often spoke with some pride 
about the accomplishment of the 1922 conference and I think I 
said yesterday that we have here on the desk a copy today of 
the proceedings of that conference. 

JRK: Some of these groups kept working together for awhile and then 
came up with recommendations and then they managed.... 

KOL7:C: : Continue to today and the California Peace Cfficer s Association 
has been an influential factor in legislation in Sacramento. 

JKH: Would you say that this was his major interest, that he worked 
through in getting through this much through these associations? 

HOLSTRC": No, he worked througiany channel that >e felt was productive. 
It might have been the legislature, members of it, a governor 
or colleagues who worked on these various things, both at the 
state and national level. 

JKH: You mean other police, say in a state level, or somebody that 
he had worked with that was in Sacramento? 

HOLCTPCM: Gomebody from most any place. Today you may find during the 
period of legislative meetings the police chiefs of the prin 
cipal cities of California. You will find that the Peace 
Officer s Association has a what s impolitely called a Lobbyist, 
and is ixslitely called a Legislative Representative, on salary 
in Sacramento. This is the vay it s done; it s done through 
your own legislators, the Assemblymen and the Senators in 
California. Today it s done in the current administration and 
it s true of all of Governor Reagan s predecessors that I know 
anythinp about. It goes back to Warren in my own personal 
relationships with the Oovernor s staff. These are simply 
channels . 

JRK: You mean the Governor s staff would help you get, help get the 
legislation they wanted to get through. 

HOLSTRC They might ! It works the same way that national things are 
done, through your Congressmen. It s done by policemen too 
through their Congressmen. It s done by police, police chiefs, 
police groups, Senators; all of them have staffs. It s done 
through White House staff. This President has had groups of 
police chiefs in to talk to him. The most recent one was a 
group from the International Association of Chiefs of Police 
of large cities. This is the way it works. 


JRH: He used those sorts of channels. 
HOLSTRCM: So did his successors, including this one. 
JRH: Well, it s the same as social work. 

HOLSTROM: You asked, if you want to move along, how did he relate to the 
people with whom he dealt, to his friends. You will find these 
people that you interview, his employees and his professional 
colleague s had tremendous respect and admiration for this man, 
mostly. Not everybody agreed with him. As I said yesterday, 
he might have been a half a century ahead of his time, but 
that creates problems, being ahead of his time. 


KOLSTROM: How your final one here. But I have one other one about 

relating to friends. After his death, his frienda established 
the August Vollmer Memorial Scholarship Fund which is a scholar 
ship fund here for undergraduate students in Criminology. That s 
Just about the size of it. 

JRH: I want to ask you one more thing that we noted up here. You 

mentioned this Wickersham report. I know Gene mentioned it and 
I was kind of interested in that. 

HOLSTROM: We today have a significant series of documents which are the 
results of the President s Commiosion on Law Enforcement and 
the Administration of Justice. This is about a 1966 or so 
effort of a Presidential Commission out of which grew the 
Office of Law Enforcement Assistance and today s LEAA, which 
means Law aiforcement Assistance Administration. It administers 
these millions of dollars appropriated by Congress for grants 
of various kinds. The only other national commission that has 
been of this kind, bearing in mind this was 1966, was the Wicker- 
sham Report which was published in 1930 or 29, based on efforts 
in the proceeding three or four years. Vollmer probably wrote 
most of the section on police and was a member of the Commission. 

JP.H: Was that a national or state commission? 

HOLSTRCI!: Presidential! Named after its chairman whose name was Wickersham 
who might have been an Attorney General. But for years authors 
cited the Wickersham Commission. Out of curiosity whenever I 
rea<? a book , I used to thumb through it rapidly and look at the 
footnotes. I did this as late as I960. In I960, if the footnotes 
consisted of mostly references to the Wickershan report T con 
cluded the author was Just a little bit out of date because I960 
was thirty years after 1930. At least I don t see so many foot 
notes about the Wickersham report any more , because now the 
President s Commission of 1966 is cited. 

I have one final comment about the Wickersham report that I 
can t resist. One of the Berkeley police captains was the 
author of the statement that he had been studying a great deal 
of sociology in the 19^0 s and the 1950 s. He said that his 
observation was that every time, and he was uncharitable about 
sociologists although I don t have this feeling about them an 
a class, a book that came out there was a rehash in the book 
about the causes of crime unchanged since the Wickersham report 
was written. He rather suspected that the Wickersham report 
said all there was to say about it or that had been thought out. 
That s all I have to say, ending on that sort of a note. 

JRH: You have nothing else? You mentioned something about the KKK. 


HOLSTRCM: I know nothing about Vollmer and the KKK. There is an inci 
dent about World War I involving the IWW. It stood for "I 
Won t V. ork!" I don t know what the story was, but there was 
a trek to Washington. Part of it originated in Qneryville 
where a group of these people, (I suppose today we would call 
them radicals, I don t know what they called them then), 
gathered at the racetrack in Qneryville and they were going to 
go to Washington and I have a very diir recollection that this 
was a big event in Vollmer s professional career, but I cannot 
tell you, I don t know, what the circumstances were. Some of 
these older men that you re going to interview, Gordon or Wilson 
may know. 

I really don t have anything else. I have a number of papers 
here and, as you know, they re listed in that supplement. 

There is one other thing I should say, though, and this is on 
the subject of Vollmer utilizing professional assistance very 
early and I m not sure whether it was a first or not. Along 
about 1931 when I cane into the department there was a police 
department psychiatrist, and this has been a very slow development 
in the country. An old friend of Vollmer s whose name was 
Hubert F.owell, an M.D. , was the psychiatrist when I got there. 
He s had a number of successors and I think it had some influence 
on Berkeley and Los Angeles in later years. The successor to 
Dr. Rowell was a very extraordinary man, the late Dr. Douglas 
Kelley, who was a member of the faculty in the 1950 s and then 
his successor was a David Wilson. These men were all medical 
doctors, all psychiatrists, all certified or diplomates. David 
Wilson was also a faculty member. These men were used for two 
purposes. Hot to be psychiatrist for policemen, as a matter of 
fact I prohibited it. They were used for screening applicants 
for the police department. And how successful was it? We 
thought it was so successful that it persisted for a period at 
least from 1930 to 1971. That s a fair period of time. There 
was an early one referred to in Parker s book, whose name was 
Ball, and I can t recall the unusual combination of first names 
he had. 

The second purpose they were used for, and this was particularly 
true of Kelley because he had an ability in this direction was 
to advise a policeman faced with a practical problem. The police 
man in the field is the man who has the problem. Something 
occurs and the policeman sometimes has to make a decision 
How emotionally disturbed is this person? Whether he s commlted 
a crime or not, at least he s come to police attention. If he s 
commited a crime, then a choice has to be made by this uniformed 
patrolman (this is why you need intelligent people to be police 
men). Do you take this nan the criminal Justice route, do you 


KOLDTFC?:: lock hir up, do you prosecute Mr, or do you, through an 

orrangerent with the Alameda County facilities, take him to 
the County Hospital? Or if the family can cfford it, do you 
see to it that he goes the private psychiatric route? This 
happens all the time, it s happening this week in Berkeley. 
It certainly is happening In the drug scene that we see here 
now. So these departmental psychiatrists have "been useful to us. 

How close was the relationship then? Close enough that at one 
stage in the 1950 s at Dr. Kelley s invitation I appeared on 
the programs of two conferences of the American Psychiatric 
Association, not because I was a psychiatrist, because I wasn t. 
I was a layman, but because I had some Insight as a layman 
into the potential value of psychiatry applied to, and I prefer 
this phrase, the administration of Justice. I use the word 
Justice In its very broadest and most proper sense. Justice to 
the individual and Justice to the community. 

JRH: That s interesting because I get these practical decision-making 
problems in my work too. It s a very difficult situation. 

KOLSTPOM: Very difficult to find a psychiatrist who s willing to serve at 
wages or salaries that can be paid by a city or a county and who 
is interested and who can communicate with policemen; because 
not all psychiatrists are easy to communicate with and perhaps 
not all policemen. 

JF.H: Having worked in them I know that County Hospitals do have a 
terrible tir.e getting competent psychiatric people. The big 
problems come from poor working conditions and low salaries. 

HOLSTPOM: Extremely difficult! I know a number of psychiatrists and 
have had a lot of exposure to them. I ve found a few that 
I can connunicate with, and fewer than that that I have any 
confidence in, but I know some. I m not one of those people 
that think all psychiatrist are peculiar. I have great respect 
for them if they are effective. That is if they can do some 
good for their patients. 

JRH: The only thing you didn t mention but you said you were thinking 
of mentioning, and that was you associated with Vollmer up to 
the time that he died. I don t know if you want to talk about 

HOLSTFc You ve asked me whether I wanted to talk about Vollmer s death 
and I don t see why not. I know about it. He was 79 when he 
died and I had seen him frequently. There were three other 
people who I know of who are familiar with the events that led 
up to it. One of their is Dr. George Oulton, a dentist, whose 
name you have in the summary. The other was the late Captain 


HOLSTROM: Walter Johnson, whose widow is still alive and whose name 
you do not have. They were close friends. We were aware, 
because he told us separately, that he knew in his very 
late years that he had cancer, at least cancer of the throat. 
He knew and it was obvious even to a layman that he had 
Parkinson s Disease and had developed a tremor of the hands. 
There is another man who knows about this but he nay be pro 
hibited by professional ethics about talking about it you d 
have to ask him. His name is Dr. William Marsh, who s still 
in practice. Probably one of my contemporaries, if not a 
little younger, who was told also. 

Vollner told each of us. He said that he would never becojre a 
bed patient , a person who would be helpless and a concern to 
other people. Why he said this, I don t know. I know that he 
was a man that had a great deal of pride. He had a great deal 
of pride in his athletic ability, in his appearance, in his 
mental and physical competence; but I don t know what his true 
motivation was. That s all he said to me at least. He didn t 
ever intend to be a bed patient. I ve been trying to remember 
what the circumstances were and I don t exactly, but among the 
four of us, we thought he probably would suicide based on what 
he said about never becoming a bed patient. When he said 
something you could depend upon it and he usually meant it. 

JFH : How longwas he ... 

HOLSTROM: How long was he aware that he had cancer and Parkinson s Disease? 
JRH: Yes. 

HOLSTF.OM: I don t know, a year or so, but it wasn t bad. And so in some 
fashion, I was then the Police Chief and I don t think I did it 
personally, his revolver was removed from his study and moved 
up to my desk drawer. I had it for a matter of a good many 
days, maybe a few weeks. One morning the phone rang and he 
said, John, you have my revolver" and I said, "Yes Sir." "I 
would appreciate it if you d return it; it s mine." I said, 
I ll bring it up myself 1 and I did and without comment handed 
it to him and all he said was, "Thank you." 

Within a matter of weeks as she later told the story, he helped 
his long-time housekeeper make the beds and went down to his 
study, stepped out in the hall at the foot of the stairs and 
said to her, You d better call the police and he shot himself. 
That was that. He was dead upon arrival at the hospital. T was 
immediately aware before ever the ambulance got there and said 
to then Captain Fording, I m not surprised. 1 He said, I m 
not either. 


JIOLSTF We anticipated it and I suppose there are a couple of subse 
quent comments: this highly distressed some of vy Catholic 
friends who knew him because it is contrary to some Catholic 
teaching to take your own life. The fact that he villed his 
body to the Medical Center of the University of California 
in San Francisco distressed some more people. The fact that 
there was no funeral highly distressed some of our mutual 
friends who were Chinese and totally unable to understand why 
there was no funeral. 

JKII: Was he buried or cremated or... 

HOLSTTOM: His body went to the Medical Center. I didn t go over to see 
what they did with it. There was no memorial service. Then 
I remembered that I didn t ever know of his ever attending a 
funeral and I never thought to ask him why. But he had no 
funeral. J y Chinese friends and his were upset. 

The final part of this was he had totally prepared for this. I 
told you about giving his books to the police department. V. e 
had made arrangements so he would retain custody while he lived. 
His papers and documents had already been delivered to Bancroft 
Library because he had enough academic appreciation to know that 
that was the best place to put them if they had any interest to 

Another thing happened which I suppose only a policeman would 
think of, but we had done it before and it s been done since. 
Invariably if we thought any of our people upon death had files 
which might have any information about individuals, personal 
intimate information, we d always inspect them. The years I 
had any authority down there and since, it was one of our first 
roves to get hold of a witness and get permission to review 
those files. I personally reviewed Vollirer s files. They had 
been corpletely cleared. He had lots of correspondence with 
people and a world-wide correspondence continued to influence 
the field particularly young men with whom he was associated. 
Those files were clear. 

JF.H: You mean he didn t have anything confidential or... 

i:GLSlF:OM: He removed then before I got there. This has happened in ti c 
case of other people too, people I knew had extensive files. 
At least it was some consolation to me as a self-appointed 
searcher to know that no one was going to be hurt personally 
by any loose papers kicking around. He had prepared for this. 
He had spent months getting things in order. 


liOLSTR . Gince, as I ve told you, I ve tried, not very successfully, 

to have a fev students, in the limited time available do some 
term papers about the history of the department. None of them 
are very good. At least they re on paper and the department 
has them. You have a list of them. 

JRH: There s Just one thing briefly, because of my own background. 
I noticed that he was a Unitarian . Ify parents are Unitarian. 
I was curious whether he was active in the church? And did 
that influence his thinking? 

IIGLOli-J! : I know nothing about this. 

JRH: Because it would be in line... 

HOLSTRC"; I didn t even know he was a Unitarian until I happened to look 
at the Who s Who 1 excerpt that you have accompaning the Tupple- 

JT!K: So he wasn t particularly a church-going man. 
HOLSTROM: I don t know. 

JRH: You Just don t know, because it wouldn t be that, it would be 
much nearer to a Unitarians philosophy the way he ended his 

HOLSTRO!!: I knov nothing about his religion . All I know is he was a 
of very high principle. I m not sure that that s very far away 
from religion. That s about all I can tell you, Miss Howard. 


That s good enough, we ll stop it now. 

INDEX John D. Holstrom 

Alaraeda, 29, 33, & 
Anchorage, Alaska, 28 
Austero, Vivencio, 28 

Berkeley, City of, 17, 19, 26, 32, 33, 3** 
City Clerk, 3 
City Manager, 29, 33 
City Marshal, 6, l6 
Hall of Justice, 7, 15 

Police Department, 1, 2-5, 9, 11, l6, 19, 2U, 25-26, 38, 33, 
Police, Press Corps, 20-21 

Press Officer, 21 
Record Department , 2U 
Regulations, 25 

Police Transportation, 30 
Berkeley Police Story. The, 16 
Black, Jack, W 
Block, Ernest, 7 

Elks Club, 33 

England , 9 

Eureka, City of, 29 

Feng, Yukon, 9 
Fresno, 13-11* 
Fry, Amelia, 2 

Gain, Charles, 19 

Germany, 9 

Gordon, Walter, 5, 18 

Greening, John A., 11, lU, 15, 21, 28, 29 

Japan , 28 

Kansas City, 28 
Kelley, Dr. Douglas, 9 
Kirk, Paul, 30 
Klamath Falls, 29 
Knowland, Joseph R. , 20 

Lindquist, John, 28 

McLaren, Roy, 29 
Manteca, City of, 29 

Marsh, William, 39 

Mathesen, Duncan, 12 

Medford, Oregon, 29 

Mexican-American community, 8 

Military Occupation Forces, Germany, 30 

National Bureau of Identification, 3 1 * 

Negro community, 8 


Berkeley Gazette, 6, 20, 21 

Oakland Post Inquirer, 21 

Oakland Tribune. 20, 21 

^n Francisco Chronicle, 21 

San Francisco Examiner. 21 

Oakland, City of, 17, 18 

Police Department, 19, 2U, 33 

Prohibition, 32 

Prostitution, 32 
Oulton, Dr. George, 6, 38 

Parker, Alfred E. , 3, 10, 16, 17, 22 

Parker, Bill, 32 

Peace Officers Association, 35 

Police procedures, 21, 2U-27 

Police of the 20th Century. The, 22 

President s Commission on Lav Enforcement and the Administration 

of Justice, 36 
Proceedings of the 1922 Conference of LACOP in San Francisco, 3, 3 1 * 

Quinn, Bill, 11 

Regional Parks, 5 
Richardson, Friend, 6 
Ross, City of, 29 
Rowell, Hubert, 37 

Sacramento, City of, 12, 3 1 * 
San Francisco, City of, 18, 19 

Chinese community, 9 

Chief of Police, 11 

Police Department, 11-13, 2U 

Robbery Detail, 13 
San Francisco Exposition, 1915, 11 
San Francisco Fair of 1939, 11 
San Jose State College 

School of Police Administration, 31 
San Quentin, 23-21* 
San Rafael, City of, 28 
Santa Barbara, City of, 29 
Schmidt, Willard, 31 

Seattle, City of, 29 

Sickler, Lt. Britton W. , 29 

Smith, Bruce Sr. , 29 

Smith, Vern, 33 

Spanish-American War, 16 

Spenger, Frank Sr. , 17 

Sproul , Robert Gordon , 30 

State Police Officers Conference, 13 

Sutherland , 2U 

Swartz, Herman, 33 

Taiwan, 9 

Tennessee, State of, 17 
Third Degree, 2U-25 
Thompson, Hollis, 33 
Trenton State College, 31 

Unitarian Church, Ul 

United States of America, The, 3 1 * 
Treasury Department, 29 
Federal Bureau of Investigation, 3^* 

University of California, The, 1, 10, 17, 18, 19 
Bancroft Library, 12, 1*0 
Political Science Department, 1, 9 
School of Criminology, 1, 9, 18, 19, 28, 30 
Police Administration, U 
School of Social Welfare, 7 
Institute of Governmental Studies, 28 
Medical Center, San Francisco, UO 

University of Chicago, The, 10, 25 

Vernon, Wyman, 33 

Vollmer , August , Memorial Scholarship Fund , 36 

Vollmer Peak, 5 

Walnut Creek, City of, 28 

Warren, Earl, 31, 32-33, 3 1 * 

Webb, Jack, 9 

Whaley, Lt. Henry F. , 29 

What s Wrong vith Cops?, 7 

Wheeler [Benjamin Ide] Award, 33 

Who s Who. 2 

Wickersham Report, 25, 36 

Wilson, David, 37 

Wilson, Orlando W. , 8, 26, 28, 29-30, 33 

Woods, Inspector A.S.J., 28 

You Can t Win, 2k 
Young, Richard, 29 

O.W. Wilson 

Milton Chernin 

Rose Glavinovich 

General Win. Dean 

University of California Bancroft Library/Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 

August Vollner Historical Project 

O.W. Wilson 


An interview conducted by 
Jane Howard Robinson 

1972 by The Regents of The University of California 


Orlando W. Wilson, born 1900, was interviewed by Jane Howard as part 
of a series on the personal and professional life of August Vollmer. 
Mr. Wilson, former Dean of the School of Criminology at the University of 
California, Berkeley, and protege of August Vollmer, brings the perspective 
of a long and distinguished career in law enforcement to the interview. 


Time and Setting 
of the Interview: 


Narrative Account 
of Mr. Wilson and 
the Progress of 
the Interview: 

Jane Howard 

Two interviews were conducted with Mr. Wilson on July 2, 
1971, in his modern ranch house in Poway, California, a 
small town about 60 miles outside of San Diego. The 
first interview, conducted with Mr. Wilson alone, began 
around 11 a.m. and concluded at approximately 12 noon. 
The second, with co- interviewer John Holstrom, a 
professional colleague of Vollmer and Wilson and advisor 
to the project, ran from about 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. 

Editing of the transcribed taped interviews was done by 
Jane Howard. Changes were very minimal on both tapes. 
Mr. Wilson reviewed and made only e few minor spelling 
and punctuation changes on both interviews. 
Mr. Holstrom also reviewed the Joint tape; he made a few 
minor editorial changes. 

O.W. Wilson, born in 1900, received a B.A. degree from the 
University of California at Berkeley in 192k. He served 
as a "college cop" part-time from 1921 and Joined the 
Berkeley Police Department fulltime on graduation from 
Berkeley. After four years under Vollmer, he went on to 
become Police Chief of Fullerton, and then Wichita, 
Kansas, both on Vollmer s recommendation. 

Wilson returned to Berkeley in 1939 as a professor of 
police administration at the School of Criminology and 
remained there, with time out for service in the army 
during World War II, until I960. He served as Dean of 
the School of Criminology from 1950-60. 

In I960 he went to Chicago, at Mayor Daley s request, and 
was very successful in reforming the Chicago Police 
Department. He also did intermittent police consulting 
from 19^8-67, conducting many police surveys throughout 
the country. 


Orlando W. Wilson (contd.) 

Mr. Wilson has lived in Povay, California, since bis 
retirement in 

The first tape follows the questionnaire outline quite 
closely; Mr. Wilson had prepared notes in advance in 
response to the questions. Additional questions were, 
however, raised during the interview. 

Mr. Wilson reviews his reasons for Joining the Berkeley 
Police Department and his rapid rise to the position, 
Chief of the Wichita, Kansas Police Department. He 
discusses the "crab meetings," Vollmer s weekly staff 
sessions, and other training provided to the Berkeley 
staff. Wilson states that he felt Mr. Vollmer s out 
standing characteristics were administrative and leader 
ship ability, racial tolerance and openness to all ex 
periences, good and bad. 

The interview turns to consider the relationship between 
Wilson and Vollmer. Wilson says he always felt he was 
a student of Vollmer s, and that he received excellent 
advice over the years, by mail and in person, from 
Vollmer . 

Mr. Wilson tells anecdotes: about a visit to a burlesque 
house, about Mr. Vollmer s interest in the criminal 
world and psychiatry. He mentions Vollmer s first wife 
briefly. Mr. Wilson discusses Vollmer s honesty and 

Mr. Wilson considers Vollmer s influence in the state, 
particularly in establishing the Bureau of Criminal 
Identification and Investigation and the Department of 

The interviewer raises questions to Mr. Wilson on 
Earl Warren s relation to Vollmer, the Klu Klux JQan and 
J. Edgar Hoover; Mr. Wilson had limited knowledge about 
these connections. The discussion touches on Vollmer s 
second wife. 

The second interview, with Mr. Holstrom as co-interviewer, 
is brief. Mr. Holstrom raises a number of questions 
to Mr. Wilson. He asks how Mr. Wilson came to Join the 
police department , and about whether problems were created 
by using college students as policemen. Mr. Holstrom 
asks Mr. Wilson whether he felt his book, Police 
Administration , was his own thinking or Vollmer s. 

Wilson: This is Orlando W. Wilson, July 2nd 1971 at Poway, California, 
reporting on ay relationship with August Vollmer. 

I came to know August Vollmer first when I took an examina 
tion for a Job as patrolman in the Berkeley Department. This 
was in the early spring of 1921. Vollmer had inserted an 
advertisement in the Daily Cal. the University newspaper, 
urging college students who were interested, to make appli 
cation for position of patrolman in his Department. I took 
the examination and in May 1921 was appointed patrolman. 

JRH: I m curious to ask you why you took this examination because 
I guess it was so unusual in those days for college students 
to become policemen. Why did you respond to the ad or what 
attracted you to doing it? 

Wilson: It was an intelligence test and the University had adminis 
tered an intelligence test to the freshmen class and apparently 
I came out of this test with good marks so I decided this 
would be an easy way to get a Job. 

JRH: You didn t have your career planned before this? 

Wilson: Oh no, not at all nor did I have it set after having worked 
in the Berkeley Department for four years. But, my experi 
ences as a novice policeman were interesting to me, probably 
to no one else and I worked with Vollmer and became well 
acquainted with him because of his friendly relationships 
with his employees. Not only did I become well acquainted 
with Vollmer, but also his wife Millicent , whome we all knew 
as Pat. The years I spent in the Berkeley Department, a 
total of about four, were not uneventful for me but of no 
great concern. 

Following my graduation, Vollmer, who was eager to get 
college trained men into police service, suggested that I 
should apply for the Job of Chief of Police at Fullerton. 

Wilson: This I did and I believe in April 1925 1 was appointed Chief 
there. This lasted no more than 12 months. He then, through 
his acquaintanceship with Lee Phillips, a high executive or 
perhaps President of Pacific Finance Corporation, got me a 
Job as an investigator with this organization and I continued 
this until the City Manager of Wichita, Kansas, called Chief 
Vollmer and said he needed someone to serve as Chief of Police 
and asked Vollmer if he could recommend someone. Vollmer 
recommended me and I had some letter correspondence with this 
City Manager but this was too slov for the City Manager because 
he wanted someone right new and finally called Vollmer and 
explained the situation. Vollmer called me and said, "Do you 
want that Job or don t you?" I told hiia yes I did. I felt 
that I should look the situation over before I accepted and 
determine if the conditions of employment were to my liking. 
I went to Wichita and before I left, was appointed Chief of 
Police of that city. Rather young for a city of that size, 
I had not yet turned 28, but I conferred with Vollmer on 
vacation trips that I would take and I corresponded with him 

JRH: You mean while you were in Fullerton or at Wichita? 

Wilson: Both, but particularly Wichita. He advised me and he was a 
prolific letter writer and would write two and three page 
letters in response to questions that I asked. I got a great 
deal of helpful advice from him. 

(Turning his attention to the questionnaire, in response to 
question #1.) First, you may wonder what impact he had on 
my personal and professional life. I must say he had a 
great impact. On my personal life, as an impressionable 
youth, I was influenced by the philosophy of this great man. 
As I have mentioned, he did succeed in getting me the Wichita 
Job and then later as his replacement as Professor of Police 
Administration at the University of California in 1939, 
after I had spent eleven years at Wichita. 

JHH: I wanted to ask you as part of questions one and two, do you 
remember the first time you met him? 

Wilson: Yes, clearly. He was an imposing figure, proud of his attire. 
He dressed almost immaculately. I don t mean that he was 
foppish in his attire but he was always well dressed. He 
never would smoke in his office because to do so might offend 
some woman or some person who was allergic to tobacco smoke. 

Wilson: Ke would work at his desk and naybe at the end of an hour, 
get up and go to the Squad Room and smoke one of these 
small cigarillos. This is one evidence of the regard he 
had for other people. 

He held what he called "crab meetings" every Friday after 
noon and some of these were extrer.ely interesting. Ke had 
a detective, Gus Mehrtens, who was a graduate chemist and 
apparently a very capable detective and a small man in terms 
of the height one usually finds associated with policemen. 
Vollmer would try to get into these crab meetings, ex-convicts, 
narcotic addicts or anyone that he felt would be helpful to 
the men to see and to discuss the problems, crime problems, 
and the life of the individual. On one occasion, a man came 
along who was a phrenologist and maintained that he could, 
by feeling the bumps on a man s head, tell his character. 
Chief Vollner set the stage for this phrenologist by getting 
Cus Mehrtens dressed up in old dungarees and an old sweatshirt 
and he locked him up in the cell. When the phrenologist 
came and gave his little talk on phrenology, the Chief asked 
him if he would like a subject to work on Just as an example 
and he said yes and Vollmer said, "Well we have a fellow that 
interests me, but he s locked up in one of the cells." Ke 
ordered the Turnkey to let this fellow out and Mehrtens came 
in. Of course, all of us were informed of this play so we 
wouldn t give it away. The phrenologist sat Mehrtens down in 
a chair and felt his bumps. Incidentally, he was Just about 
completely bald so he was a perfect subject. Ke then told 
why this man was a confirmed criminal. That he would never 
be a useful citizen and Just painted the most pessimistic 
picture with the diagnosis of the bumps on Kehrtens head. 
We often laughed over this incident, but this is an example 
of some of the things Vollmer would do. 

He would take students and some of his policemen to mental 
institutions in the summertime, students who were enrolled 
in some course during the summer session at the University, 
and they d bring out various patients and the doctor there 
would explain the nature of what the difficulty was so that 
we got acquainted with various types of mental illness. 
Vollmer always urged his policemen to enroll at the Univer 
sity and study. 

(Response to question #2. ) This brings us up to the question 
of what kind of a man Vollmer was. I guess I could best des 
cribe him as being primarily an executive, a leader of men. 

Wilson: He had the ability to win the confidence of not only his 

subordinates but all people he dealt with. He inspired in 
his subordinates a loyalty not only to him as a leader but 
to the organization and to the ideals of police service. 
He had courage. I can recall that he would always keep in 
the top drawer of his desk his service gun and anytime he 
left headquarters, he would slip this in his pocket. He 
was an excellent shot and was able to stand a playing card 
on edge and at ten paces, split it with a bullet, which is 
considerable shooting. 

We had a prisoner who escaped in some way; I ve forgotten 
the details. Vollmer and others at headquarters immediately 
ran out after him and this prisoner sought refuge in the 
coal yard. As they were trying to apprehend him he picked 
up pieces of coal and threw at the people. While I was not 
there, I was told that Vollmer shot a piece of coal out of 
the prisoner s hand but not before he had hit Vollmer on the 
side of the face with a lump of coal. 

I learned something of his philosophy of life. He felt that 
life is nothing but experience and that whether it be good or 
bad, whether exemplary or filled with mistakes, Vollmer always 
typified it as being experience and in consequence, all for 
the good. He had a rule, never to say anything bad about a 
man. I heard him once say that if you can t say something 
good about a man, don t say anything. When he held a seminar 
at the University and lecture classes as well, he gave up 
smoking because it caused him to cough and he felt that was 
unfair to his students. He adopted the practice in his semi 
nar of going out for coffee at the end of the seminar, I guess 
about 10 o clock. The students would ask him to tell stories 
and he was an excellent raconteur. He could keep them spell 
bound with stories of cases that he had worked on and of the 
lives of criminals he had known. 

He was racially unprejudiced. Walter Gordon, one of Berkeley s 
football greats, was a patrolman at this time in Berkeley and 
Vollmer made this appointment because he recognized the fine 
qualities of Walter Gordon. There were in those days, no 
social pressures to appoint minority groups to police forces 
as there have been in more recent years. He worked closely 
with Gordon and I hope you can get Walter Gordon to talk about 

JRH: Bancroft Library is supposed to interview him. I m interested 
in two things. First, Chief Holstrom mentioned that Vollmer 
sometimes had boxing matches . 

Wilson: I m not aware of that. However he did have a yawara or Judo 
expert who trained members of the department. I think this 
was done principally in the high school gym, not at police 

JRH: Apparently he was a very athletic man. Did he encourage 

athletics? I get the impression more from Parker than from 
Holstrom that this had something to do with the fact that he 
was proud of his appearance and very athletic. Did that 
seem so, or do you recall anything in relation to that kind 
of activity? 

Wilson: Not in relation to his athletic activities that I am person 
ally aware of, although I did know that he was a great 
swimmer and I think he played handball with Chief Dullea of 
San Francisco but I never saw any of his athletic activities. 

JRH: So it wasn t something that dominated, something that was 

Wilson: No. 

JRH: I m also curious about the question of the impact he had on 
your personal life. In that time when you were working in 
the Berkeley Police Department, I want to get a sense of how 
he encouraged you because you weren t really set on a career 
in police work at all when you started working for the Depart 
ment. Can you give me a better idea of how he influenced 
you to stay in that work? Did you meet with him socially a 
lot? Did you meet with him in his office a lot? How did he 
get you into it? 

Wilson: Neither. I would drive Chief Vollmer and his wife Pat because 
he didn t drive a car himself. 

JRH: How come? 

Wilson: Never learned to drive and he had no desire to drive. I would 
drive them to places and I got a chance to visit with them, 
they would sit in the back seat. Until later, when I returned 
to Berkeley as a professor, I had no social life with him as 
such nor can I recall going into his office and sitting in a 
chair. The contacts and relationships were more related to 
activities in the normal routine day of work. 

JRH: At what point do you think you were committed to staying in 
police work? 

Wilson: After I got to Wichita and not beforel 

JRH: One thing Gene Carte was particularly interested in asking 
you about was that he has been reading some of the corres 
pondence in Bancroft Library, they have a lot of his personal 
papers, between Vollmer and you, when he was urging you to 
go on to Harvard. One of the letters said that the future 
of policing is in having educated police and that you should 
really take this kind of academic post. He was interested in 
knowing a little bit about whether these letters between you 
and him had a lot of influence on your decision to continue 
on with police work and go on to Harvard. Was this relation 
ship with Vollmer quite important to you in staying in the 
field or encouraging you to go on to a higher position? 

Wilson: Oh yes, certainly it was. Anytime I was up against a decision 
such as should I go to Harvard, I would write him and he would 
advise me, as he did, to go. I had my year at Harvard but it 
wasn t really on the faculty, it was the Bureau for Street 
Traffic Research, then under Miller McClintock who I think 
later went to Germany and assisted Adolph Hitler in the con 
struction of the Autobahn. 

JRH: You mentioned that when you went to Wichita you wrote him on 
how to handle police problems. 

Wilson: Yes. Anytime I was confronted with a problem I d write him 
a letter. Administration by correspondence they d call it. 

JRH: I take it he gave you very thorough and thoughtful kinds of 

Wilson: Oh yes, two and three page letters. 

JRH: Did you work with Vollmer and Leonard to some extent? What 
was the relationship between you? 

Wilson: I was never closely associated with V.A. Leonard. He was 
Identification Officer in the San Diego Department after 
Chief Vollmer had made a survey and re-organization of that 
department. He returned to Berkeley I think about the last 
year of my service there. As I recall, he served as Identifi 
cation Officer there so I didn t have close contact with him. 

JRH: So mostly he was somewhat close to Vollmer but independently 
and not so much with you. Was it that Vollmer was about 20 
years older than you? He was born in 1876. 

Wilson: I was born in 1900, so he was 2k years my senior. 

JRH: By the time you came back to Berkeley you were certainly an 
authority in the field in your own right and I was wondering 
if you always continued to consider yourself sort of a student 
of Vollmer s or whether you considered yourself more of his 
peer as time went on? 

Wilson: I never reached that point. Upon my return to the University 
I was guided by him in the preparation of lectures. When I 
wrote police records and later on and more significantly 
police administration, Vollner was a tremendous assistance 
to me in the preparation of this text. I would discuss with 
him at great length some of the problems that had to be dealt 
with in this book so the book, in a very real sense, is a 
reflection of August Vollmer s thinking. 

(Response to question #3.) Now as to anecdotes and stories, 
Chief Vollmer loved fun, I found in later years, although I 
had heard some stories about his pranks I guess that isn t 
quite the right term as a younger man. When he was re 
organizing the Kanaas City department in the early 30 s, I 
was at Wichita and on a couple of occasions drove to Kansas 
City and visited with him. I can recall that on one occasion 
he and Pat took me to the 12th Street Burlesque which was a 
very famous burlesque theater. We all enjoyed this experience 
a great deal. This is the kind of thing he would do. Later, 
when he worked on the Wickersham Commission Report in Chicago 
and was then on the staff of the University of Chicago, I 
visited him there from Wichita and I can recall he and his 
wife and myself going out in the evening on the train and he 
would point out certain well dressed men in derbies , white 
silk scarves, velvet collars on blue topcoats and wearing 
gray spats, that here was a gangster! I expect he was right. 

JRH: Is it true that he had a fascination with criminal elements 
and that he was very effective in dealing with crime, but 
that he also in a way was interested in it? 

Wilson: I should have mentioned that as a small boy he was in New 
Orleans living with his then widowed mother when the 
Superintendent of Police of New Orleans was assasinated by 
the Black Hand. Shortly after that he and his mother came 
by train to Berkeley and on the train with them was the 
widow of the assasinated superintendent, so I feel certain 
that this must have had a strong impact on him. I can re 
call his mother s home on Milvia Street and he lived there 
with her, I think up until the time that he married Pat, 
his wife, that I knew so well. 






How old was he when he married, do you remember? 

It was his second marriage. That would have been about 1925 
because I recall as a patrolman picking them up and driving 
them places. 

So he was almost 55 when he remarried? 

Close to 50 I d say. 

I heard he married briefly earlier. 

Yes. To a concert singer. She was apparently more interested 
in the stage and concert work than she was in Vollmer and 
they separated. 

Do you know how long he was married to her? Or when? 

No I don t. But I think rather briefly, 
nor did he have any with Pat. 

They had no children 

After I Joined the faculty at the University I can recall his 
telling that he and Captain Kidd, who was the criminal law 
professor at Boalt Hall and Dr. Don Juan Ball, a psychiatrist, 
went with their wives on a camping trip in the Redwoods and 
he was laughing about some of their experiences. He said 
they d pick out a tree that seemed a little abnormal and 
decide that that was a schizophrenic tree and go on to 
another which would be paranoic, etc. 

He was very interested in psychiatric problems? 

Yes he was and had psychiatric examinations for applicants to 
the department, when I was appointed at least. You mentioned 
his association with criminals. I can recall his telling me 
about how he would keep in his desk drawer at headquarters 
a bottle of whiskey and when they had some old drunk who had 
sobered up the night before and were about to release him 
without running him through court , Vollner would bring him 
into his office and pour him a good stiff drink before turning 
him out. 


Was he a social man; it sounds like he was. 

Did he like 

Wilson: Yes, and he liked parties and he told me on occasion that he 
had never gambled because his mother, for some reason, was 
opposed to gambling and his mother apparently played some 
influence on his life because he vent on to say that anytime 
he would call on his mother she d get out the liquor bottle 
and they would sit there visiting and drinking. 

I also recall his telling about his experiences at the time 
of the San Francisco fire and earthquake when hundreds and 
hundreds of refugees came to Berkeley and he had the respon 
sibility of maintaining order. 

JRH: It was right after he became Chief. 

Wilson: Yes, it was 1906 I believe. 

JRH: He was Town Marshal in 1905- 

Wilson: I thought it was earlier than that. 

JRH: Let me check. It was 1903 when he became Town Marshal. 

Wilson: When did he become Chief of Police? 

JRH: 1909 and I remember why because it had to do with passing the 
charter amendment but he was essentially Chief from 1905 on. 

Wilson: (Response to question 

The question is asked what was 

Vollmer s professional impact? I wrote a forward for Al 
Parker s book on the Berkeley Police Story and I m simply 
going to read from it as I think this states it much better 
than I could say. 

JRH: Actually though, what we re interested in is what s not been 
recorded somewhere so if that s the introduction you used in 
the book we wouldn t really need to put it in. 

Wilson: No, I d Just read a page and a half of it. 

JRH: We don t need that particularly but what we want is what 

people have in their heads and we re hoping that someone may 
want to do a doctoral thesis or a master s thesis on Vollmer. 
They would have access to written material but we want to 
have tapes of what people have said about Vollmer. 

Wilson: Well, then we ll Just skip item U. 


JRH: Chief Holstrom and I didn t go into that too much either, 
because it doesn t have too much to do with what the man 
vas like, except in a sense a man s principles have to do 
with what kind of a man you are. For instance, Holstrom 
and I talked a lot about the sense of honesty people got 
from him or a sense of integrity and in that sense we d be 
interested in knowing some of the principles that he stood 

Wilson: He certainly stood for complete honesty and I think this 

perhaps was one of the reasons he got along with the press 
so well. He was completely frank with them and if anything 
occurred, he d bring them into his office and tell them about 
it rather than having them dig it out and getting it in a 
slanted way. I can recall, as a matter of fact while a 
patrolman. . .no, I guess it was while I was at Fuller-ton, I 
went with him to the San Francisco Department for some reason. 
He introduced me to a man there and he said, "O.W., if you 
took this man completely apart, you wouldn t be able to find 
a crooked bone in his body he s that honest." I was never 
sure then or since then whether he didn t make this statement 
with his tongue in cheek. 

JRH: What do you think made him that way? Why do you think he 
developed to be a man with such high ideals? 

Wilson: I don t know. I ve never met his mother but he lived with 
her from the time they arrived from New Orleans until his 
first marriage whenever that was, and I think after his 
separation. I am confident that she was an influence to him 
and may have instilled in him concepts of honesty such as 
the one he did mention that he had never gambled in his life 
and I m sure his mother influenced him to this determination. 
I presume she left other ideals implanted in his mind as well. 

JRH: This reminds me. You mentioned that his mother was opposed 
to gambling. In his biography they had in Who s Who in the 
West, that he listed himself as a Unitarian. That religion 
wouldn t usually exclude gambling, but do you know anything 
about his religious background or do you know if his mother 
was a Unitarian? 

Wilson: I have no idea. I also had no idea that Chief Vollmer had 

ever declared that he was a Unitarian. As a matter of fact, 

I had thought that he probably had never set foot in a church 
in his life. 


JRH: Well, that s the least religious church, so maybe that s why 
he listed it. And maybe his mother s position on gambling 
was related to being a Baptist or something like that. Did 
you know his mother? 

Wilson: No I didn t. 

(Response to question HI.) Vollraer vas influential and in 
volved in some State events that had a strong impact on the 
development of the law enforcement agencies in California. 
Particularly in the enactment of legislation to authorize 
the establishment of the Bureau of Identification as it was 
originally called and the title later may have been the 
Bureau of Identification and Investigation. Vollmer played 
an important role in the development of this Bureau and 
again, as he did with so many people, he advised the head of 
the Bureau, I think a man named Clarence Merrill, on the 
development of this new agency and this relationship con 
tinued after Clarence Merrill passed away and his son was 
appointed to replace him as head of the Bureau. 

JRH: We understand this was a new idea and we were wondering how 
he got it accomplished? Was he a charming man and how did 
he do it? Who did he talk to or influence? 

Wilson: I have no idea. I could only conjecture that he must have 

talked to legislators, but whether he went to Sacramento for 
this or whether they may have called in his office, I don t 

JRH: Do you know of other things that he got accomplished? 

Wilson: I think he played a part in the development in the Department 
of Corrections. He was very much concerned with penology as 
such: correctional institutions, and the state prisons gene 
rally. He seemed to hold some hope for the rehabilitation of 
the inmates in much larger proportions than I was ever con 
vinced of myself. In those years, after he retired as Chief, 
and I m sure this occurred while he was Chief, be would have 
police officials and correctional officials call at his home 
and discuss problems much as I did in correspondence while at 
Wichita. I can recall a group from the Los Angeles Police 
Department coming to Berkeley in a Marmon automobile. I m 
not sure of the date but they came to discuss problems with 
him and I m sure he advised them on what they should do. He 
reorganized the Los Angeles Department in I think 1922 or 
thereabouts and he had a close working relationship with 
whoever was Chief and the men he worked so closely with in the 
course of this reorganization. 


JRU: We were interested in his relationship with Earl Warren both 
when Warren was Assistant D.A. and then when he became Attor 
ney General and Governor and the Bancroft Library is also 
interested in this because they re doing a history of Warren. 

Wilson: I can recall my first sight of Earl Warren. He vas the 

Assistant D.A. assigned to Berkeley and worked in the Berkeley 
Police Headquarters. 

JRH: He became Assistant D.A. in 1923. Was that where he was 

assigned for the two years, the whole time was Assistant D.A.? 

Wilson: I don t know how long, but about that time he was an imposing 
looking youngish man and he d stand with his thumbs in his 
vest sleeves and had a gold chain across his vest. He wore 
blue clothes. He was interested in the success of the Berke 
ley Department in dealing with their criminal cases. Then he 
became D.A. of Alameda County and it seems to me that he 
served there eight years. 

JRH: 1925 to 1938 7 years. 

Wilson: Then he became Attorney General and then Governor and then 
Chief Justice. We ll skip that because it s an unhappy re 
collection that I have of the last days of Earl Warren. It 
makes me unhappy everytime I think about them. 

JRH: When Warren was still D.A. in Alameda, from what Bancroft 

Library has learned, there was a difference in attitude bet 
ween Vbllmer and Warren on enforcement of prohibition. Do 
you know anything about that? 

Wilson: Prohibition went out about that time about 1933 and he became 
District Attorney in 1925. I could believe that there were 
differences and I don t know Earl Warren s views on prohibi 
tion but I think Vollmer was opposed to it. He felt that this 
was doing a great damage to law enforcement , as in fact it was , 
and it created a situation where police could be corrupted. 
As I say, I am not aware of Earl Warren s attitude toward 

JRH: Had you heard Vollmer at any time talk about the Ku Klux Klan 
since they were still active in the mid-20 s? 

Wilson: Ho, I have no recollection of this but knowing his complete 
lack of prejudice I am confident that he would be opposed to 
the principles of the Ku Klux Klan. 


JRH: Another thing he worked with Warren on was when there was 
gambling and an off-track betting scandal later on when 
Warren was Governor, like about 19*2. Warren had a Crime 
Commission in 19^8 against gambling and off-track betting. 
Do you know if Vollmer was at all involved in that Commission? 

Wilson: He would have been retired from the University nine years by 
then which meant that he was getting on in years. I have no 
recollection of this Commission. 

JRH: Do you know any more about when Warren was Governor? We re 
curious about the relationship between the two and generally 
did they become friends when Warren became D.A. and if they 
continued to work together and in what ways. 

Wilson: I simply don t have any first hand information at all nor any 

JRH: You Just don t know much about how Warren and Vollmer were 

Wilson: No. 

JRH: One other historical event. There was a general strike in 
193U and do you know about Vollmer s involvement with that? 

Wilson: That was the waterfront strike. I don t recall his activities 
there at all. 

JRH: Apparently Vollmer was on good terms with Bill Knowland. Do 
you know about this? Chief Holstrora told me that the Oakland 
Tribune did have a reporter stationed at Berkeley P.O. Do 
you think that was due to Vollmer s initiative? 

Wilson: Vollmer would certainly have no protest but I m sure the Know- 
land family, being aggressive Journalists, would have initiated 
this, putting the reporters where there was news. There was 
news at Berkeley and readily accessible because of Vollmer 8 
complete frankness in dealing with the reporters. 

JRH: I suspect that was very helpful in his gaining such a wide 
spread reputation because of his attitude toward the press. 

Wilson: Yes, I m sure it was. 

JRH: Apparently he influenced Hoover s attitudes toward setting 
up the FBI. Do you know anything about this? 


Wilson: Not a thing. 

JRH: One other historical thing that ties in a little bit with 
your discussion of the schizophrenic trees. Apparently in 
1925 a number of influential people established a social 
welfare league in Berkeley and Vollmer was one of the people 
involved in that. They handled, in a more social work way, 
the problems of the community. Do you know anything about 
that, if he stayed in that? 

Wilson: I m sure he was interested in it, but he did have a police 
woman, one of the early policewomen, Polly was her first name, 
she married Gus Mehrtens and after Gus Merhtens 1 death she 
continued on as the policewoman and whether she s still alive 
I don t know because she d be a very elderly person by now. 
Vollmer was a humanitarian and was interested in social wel 
fare, was interested in parole and was interested in the 
welfare of prisoners in the correctional institutions. 

One thing he was always trying to do was to get his subordi 
nates to write. To write and publish in Journals and some 
in books. John Larson was a policeman at that time and he 
later became a psychiatrist, but he developed the lie detector 
and he did this with Vollmer s strong support and worked with 
some of the people at the University where he then was a 
student and wrote a book on the lie detector. Then later, 
and I m sure it was at Vollmer s instigation, he developed 
a system of single fingerprint classifications and wrote a 
book on this. So here were two books in the field that 
Vollmer got a subordinate to write. He would urge individual 
members of the department to write something. He d say, "Why 
don t you write an article and have it published in such and 
such a Journal." He was constantly urging, apparently aware 
of the need for literature in the police field and concerned 
likewise with publication and it was because of this that he 
became acquainted with Charles C. Thomas, a publisher in 
Springfield, Illinois. Thomas was out after I was appointed 
Professor and we had several visits with Thomas and his wife 
and then later with Thomas son, Payne Thomas. Because of 
Vollmer s urging the Thomas , who up till this point had 
specialized in medical literature, broadened their field of 
interest and started publishing in the police field. V.A. 
Leonard has had maybe a dozen books published by them. They 
are also publishing this new book by A. Parker. Here, for 
example, are books that V.A. Leonard has written. 


JRH: So Leonard was greatly influenced by Vollmer in that respect? 
Wilson: Oh, yes. 

JRH: He became a Professor of Police Administration at Washington 
State. He was a patrolman to start? 

Wilson: He was an Identification Officer but whether he came in as a 
patrolman I don t know. We had as the Identification Officer 
a man named C.D. Lee and I think Lee trained Leonard and 
Leonard then went to San Diego as Identification Officer 
then came back about 192b or so. 

(Response to question #1 . ) On the seventh point I can only 
say that he was invariably friendly to all his friends , 
helpful to his employees and was always prepared to give a 
great deal of his time to advising colleagues. 

JRH: What about his enemies? He must have made some. 
Wilson: I m sure he did, but he never talked about them. 

JRH: It would be hard to make so many innovations without making 
some enemies of people. You don t know too much about the 
people he may have aggravated? 

Wilson: No. 

JRH: What about his wife? What sort of a woman was she? 

Wilson: A charming woman. He made a survey of the police in Cuba at 
one time and Pat was with him. She had short hair like they 
wore it in those days and her hair was gray but she was an 
extremely attractive person and personality and she enjoyed 
the things that Vollmer enjoyed. They would go out in the 
evenings for dinner somewhere and in those later days I had 
the privilege of being with them on some of these occasions. 

(Response to question #8.) In addition to V.A. Leonard, there 
was a man named Gabrielson who, the last I heard, was a Sheriff 
in the northern part of the State. When Vollmer reorganized 
the Honolulu Department he arranged for Gabrielson to be 
named Chief, and Gabrielson served there a number of years 
until he finally left and returned to the mainland. Another 
one is Wiltberger, William A. The last I heard of Wiltberger 
he was living in retirement in New Mexico but Vollmer played 
an important role in the lives of all three of these men. 
V.A. Leonard is still alive and I don t know whether Wiltberger 
and Gabrielson are still alive or not. Walter Gordon and Bill 
Dean also. 


INDEX -- O.W. Wilson 

Ball, Juan, 1 
Berkeley, City of 

Police Department, 1, 5, 13 

social welfare league, Ik 

town marshal , 9 
Black Hand, 7 

California, State of 

Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, 11 

Crime Commission, 13 

Department of Corrections, 11 
Cuban police survey, 15 

Dean, William, 15 

Dullea, Chief Charles W. , 5 

Fullerton, 1, 10 

Gabrielson, William A., 15 
gambling, 10-11 
Gordon, Walter, U, 15 
Harvard University 

Bureau for Street Traffic Research, 6 
Holstrom, John, 5, 10 
Honolulu Police Department, 15 

Kansas City, Kansas, 7 
Kidd, Captain, 8 
Knovland, William, 13 
Ku KLux KLan, 12 

Larson, John, lU 

Lee, C.D., 15 

Leonard, V.A. , 6, lU-15 

lie detector, lU 

Los Angeles Police Department, 11 

McClintock, Miller, 6 

Mehrtens, Gus , 3, I 1 * 
Mehrtens, Polly, lU 
Morrow, Clarence, 11 

New Orleans , La . , 7 


Oakland Tribune. 13 

Pacific Finance Corporation, 2 
Parker, Alfred E. , 9, I 1 * 
Phillips, Lee, 2 
Prohibition, 12 
psychiatry, 8 

San Diego Police Department, 6, 15 

San Francisco fire, 9 

San Francisco Police Department, 10 

Thomas, Charles C., lU 
Thomas, Payne, lU 

Unitarian, 10 

University of California at Berkeley, U, 7, 8 

Bancroft Library, 6, 12 

Daily Cal. 1 

Police Administration, 2 
University of Chicago, 7 

Vollmer, Millicent "Pat", 1, 7, 15 

Warren, Earl, 12 
Washington State College, 15 
Who s Who in the West, 10 
Wichita, Kansas, 2, 7, 11 
Wicker sham Commission Report, 7 

yawara (judo), 5 


San Francisco Chronicle -^ ... 

Thursday, October 19, 1972 01*131100 W. 



Daily Californian 
Thursday, October 19, 1972 

. - 



O.W.WILSON in 1960 
Died Yesterday 

CrJminologist Dead at 72 

Orlando W. Wilson, former 
dean of the School of Criminology 
here who achieved national fame 
as Chicago police commissioner, 
died yesterday at the age of 72. 

Wilson worked his way through 
school here as a part-time Berkeley 
policeman, then went on to be 
come police chief in Fullcrion and 
Wichita, Kans. In 1939 he returned 
to the University as professor of 
police administration in the Politi 
cal Science Department, and in 
1950 was named dean of the new ly- 
formcd School of Criminology. 

While teaching here, Wilson 
served as special consultant in the 
reorgani/afion of thirteen police 
departments, including (hose of 
San Juan. Puerto Kico. and l.i.uis- 
ville. Kj. Irurn 1943 to 1947 he 
was a colonel of militari police in 

, (from front page) 

ances front Mayor Kichard Daley 
of a free hand and a salary more 
thn twice that he received as dean 
heri . Wilson accepted. 

The School of Criminology was 
at that lime undergoing one of its 
neriodic threats of being rcor- 
pim/cd out of existence. 

Under Wilson s rule, the Chi 
cago Police Dcpt. was partially put 

Germany and Italy. 

Wilson held only a bachelor s de 
gree while serving as a professor 
and dean here, but later received 
two honorary doctorates. 

In I960. Wilson was called to 
Chicago to head a special "blue rib 
bon" commission seeking a new 
head of the Chicago Police Depart 
ment. The commission was ap 
pointed in the wake of a scandal 
implicating over a score of police 
officers in a burglary ring which 
among other things used police 
cars to transport stolen goods. 

After examining 53 candidates 
for police commissioner, the other 
members of the commission asked 
\\iKon to step down so that he 
himself might he considered for 
the posi. After receiving avsur- 

f.V />* 

under the civil service merit sys 
tem. and both open theft and some 
of the more blatant aspects of 
political patronage in the depart 
ment were curbed. 

There was, however, no notice 
able decrease in either police bru- 
lalit) or "justifiable homicides" 
committed by police officers 
category in which C hicago con 
tinued to hold the national record. 

Wilson Dies 

Poivay. San Dirso County 

Orlando \V. Wilson, who 

gained a world reputa 

tion in criminology be 

fore cleaning up the Chi 

cago police force after a 

burglary scandal, cw-d of a 

stroke yesterday. He was 


Wilson, a former dean of 
the School of Criminology at 
the University of California 
at Berkeley, was appointed 
Chicago s police comissioner 
in 1960. He retired in 1967. 

Earlier, h e lectured 
throughout the United States 
and Europe and reorganized 
police departments at San 
Antonio; Texas; San Juan, 
Puerto Rico; Louisville Ky., 
and other cities. 

He was appointed dean at 
Berkeley in 1939 after earn 
ing his undergraduate de 
gree there in 1924 and a doc 
torate at Carthage College 
in Illinois, later receiving an 
honorary doctor s degree at 
Northwestern University. 

During World War II he 
served as an Army colonel 
and on the staff of General 
Lucius in Berlin. 

Wilson was hired to clean 
up Chicago s scandal-rid 
den police force and was 
given a free hand to do it by 
Mayor Richard J. Daley. 

The department had been 
rocked in 1960 when eight 
policemen were convicted of 
comitting a string of burgla 
ries with the aid of a profes 
sional burglar. 

The soft - spoken, slender, 
wrinkle - faced, scholarly 
Wilson methodically set to 
work restoring the tattered 
police image. 

He applied theories of cen 
tralization and effective su 
pervision, took men off the 
beat and put them into po 
lice cars that flashed blue 
instead of red lights, added 
a canine force, modernized 
the crime laboratory, in 
creased promotions and 
boosted salaries. 

He applied computer tech 
nology to police statistics, , 
criminal identification and 
crime records. He made 
Chicago s communications 
network the envy of the 
world s police forces and a 
model to be studied. 


Hoi strom: 
Wilson : 





I m Jane Hovard, vith Chief Holstrom and Dean Wilson who are going 
to chat together. I guess Chief Holstrom is going to ask Dean 

Wilson some questions about his early career. 
June in Mr. Wilson s home in Poway. 

It s the second of 

How did you happen to become a Berkeley policeman? 

I vas a student at the University of California, a sophomore, and 
I decided that I should support myself. My father had given me 
a fairly liberal allowance at the time, but he had some reverses, 
and I decided that it vas high time that I should be on my own. 

There was a slight recession in 1921, was there not? 

I think so. But Vollmer advertised in the Daily Cal for college 
students who were interested in police service and stated that 
an intelligence test would be used in the selection of applicants. 
So I decided to take a fling at this and took the examination. 
I ve forgotten now who administered the Army Alpha, which was the 
one we had, but I was selected and went to work in May 1921. 

You left school then? 

Oh, no, I continued until I graduated, 
usually the second shift. 

I worked the night duty, 

Isn t it so that Vollmer was interested in attempting to improve 
the quality of people in his own department and in the police 
service generally? One of his ideas was to attract college 
students and even when I was in college, in the late 1920 s, I 
read a good deal about the college cops, who he encouraged to go 
to school and be policemen at the same time. They were such 
people as you, Ed Maeshner, Ralph Proctor, Walter Gordon, who 
went through law school; and Bill Dean. 

Isn t it also a fact that the man who was really the operations 
officer in the police department was Jack Greening, who later 
became the Police Chief. The program really did not delight the 
Captain because he had some difficulty in getting those college 
cops to work overtime because they were supposed to be going to 
school. I believe that there was a period when Captain Greening 
was not very enthusiastic about policemen who went to school and 
worked as policemen at the same time, so when he became Chief he 
changed policies slightly. Isn t this so? 

This is true, but I don t know that it was because of the lack of 
availability of these men for overtime. My recollection is that 
this didn t interfere one iota with the overtime that they imposed 
on those college students who were working in the department. 
As a matter of fact, following the Berkeley fire in 1923, and 
while Vollmer was in Los Angeles, we worked 16-hour tours of duty. 

Wilson: That year I flunked out of the University as a consequence of 
no tine for studies at all, so I graduated in 1925 instead of 

Hoist rom: I have heard a story that one of your colleagues, Walter Gordon, 
solved his problem by reading his lav books under a street light 
while on duty down on San Pablo Avenue. I don t know how directly 
this was connected with Vollner, but he must have tolerated it. 

Wilson: I never heard this in reference to Walter Gordon, but I know 
it s true in the case of John Larson. John would regularly 
park his car and study his books. Doc Rooney would go out in 
his car with a blanket at night and snatch a few winks of sleep 
and carried an alarm clock. He d set the clock for the time 
when he was supposed to make a pull on the call box but I don t 
know whether Vollmer knew anything about this or not, and I rather 
doubt it, and I m not at all sure he would tolerate it. 

JBH: How many college cops were there, say, when you went in? 
Wilson: There must have been a dozen out of a force of 28 or 30. 

JRH: He was very successful in recruiting college kids. That was 
quite an unusual ratio? 

Holstrom: Not only quite unusual; this was unique in the United States of 

JRH: How long had he done it? Were you in one of the first classes of 
college cops? 

Wilson: I think a year or two before because Walt Gordon came on a year or 
two before I did. 

Holstrom: I think Walter came in 1919. 

Wilson: This was about the start of it because it was the end of the 

First World War and the Army Alpha grew out of the Army and this 
was the testing procedure he used and I think it was about that 
time when he started recruiting college men for service as 

Holstrom: I ve referred in my tape to the long utilization of psychiatrists 
by Vollmer which was an extraordinary thing to do. Do you happen 
to know who the departmental psychiatrist was in the early 1920 s? 

Wilson: Dr. Rowell. 
Holstrom: He was a successor to a Dr. Ball. Did you know him? 

Wilson: Ball came later. Because Ball did not examine me and Rowell did. 

Holstrom: Dr. Rowell was still the departmental psyciatrist as late as the 
early 19^0 s so he and Vollmer were very close friends. 

Hoi strom: 



Hoi strom: 


Hoi strom: 

Wilson : 
Hoi strom: 

Well, he may not have used Ball as a department psychiatrist, 
but they were friends. 

I didn t realize that Dr. Rowell s connection with the depart 
ment went back that far. I d like to ask you about a different 
kind of subject unless something occurs to you. 

Do you remember when you and other young college students were 
recruited to be police officers if there was community reaction 
against it? I suspect there might have been. 

I was never aware of it or heard of it. 

They didn t say, "What on earth are they recruiting college men 

Quite the contrary. The press was favorable to this because it 
was unique and it was a story* so I think the townspeople accepted 
it completely. 

By the 1920 s, regardless of what may have happened way back in 
1905, wouldn t you say that Vollmer was in a very strong and 
respected position in the community with the townspeople and 
that this prevailed even down to my era when the department and 
I bene fitted from the things that this man had done and the 
international reputation he and the department had. There was 
a carryover that I am positive is still going on in 1971. 

He was President of the International Association of Chiefs of 
Police in 1921-22. The conference was held here in San Francisco 
and Dr. John Larson with his lie detector put on a demonstration 
for the assembled group. 

I d like to ask you another kind of question and this probably 
touches on the man s influence. This morning Mrs. Wilson and 
I were in your study looking at your 1963 revision of Police 
Administration which I personally choose to call the "definitive 
tert in the field." 

Thank you sir. Is that on tape? 

I m of course well familiar with the English edition, but I was 
aware from a previous visit and conversations about the trans 
lations which I know are in Chinese and Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, 
and Korean. I should tell you that while your back was turned 
Mrs. Wilson has presented me with a copy of the Japanese edition, 
the only extra copy she had, so I got away with that for the Berkeley 
Police Library. I want to ask you how much of the things you ve 
set forth there and some of the principles that you enunciated, if 
that s a good verb, represent the Vollmer influence on your 
thinking about standards and ethics and procedures and so on. 
I know enough that a good deal of this is your own development 

Holstrom: of your own experience and your own thinking. 

Wilson: No, I think I d put in a declaimer there. As I told Jane 
earlier, this book, while I wrote it, reflected Vollmer 1 s 
principles and philosophy and I went through the book thor 
oughly with him, chapter by chapter, so that I would say that 
it reflects August Vollmer rather than O.W. Wilson. 

Holstrom: Well, I m sure the tape recognizes this too. I was talking 

about the translations that indicate the international influence 
and the responsible publishing company, McGraw-Hill, felt it 
important enough to publish these translations into other 
languages than English. This leads me to another question. 
You ll remember that in the middle 1950 s, there was developed 
the "Law Enforcement Code of Ethics". I don t think you and 
I can ever forget the problems of developing that. This code 
of ethics, as we know, has been adopted by many police depart 
ments in this country as a statement of ideals which is what 
you once called it. Not only that, but it s been adopted inter 
nationally and widely published and adopted by police associa 
tions such as the California Police Association, the International 
Association of Chiefs of Police and others. 

You will recall that initially this was proposed by a group of 
middle management people like lieutenants who were interested 
in professionalizing the police service mentioned so frequently 
by Vollmer. They were interested in developing a code of 
ethics or set of standards. You will remember that we were both 
there when a San Diego police lieutenant by the name of 
Gene Muelheisen presented to the Executive Committee of the As 
sociation the first draft. You will remember that those very 
conservative police chiefs felt it should be rewritten and you 
will also remember the long period of time it took to put this 
concisely on one page and we were involved. Our Dr. Douglas 
Kelley actually did almost the semi-final draft. So we had a 
Code of Ethics and we both know what it says. I want to ask you 
if it isn t true that that Code of Ethics represents in large 
measure the influence of the Vollmer philosophy on such people 
as you and me and Dr. Kelley. Is this a correct analysis? 

Wilson: Yes, I would say that it is. The inception of the Code of Ethics 
came in Wichita and was outlined in the "Square Deal Code." We 
adopted it there in the very early 30 s. If you read that code 
you will find that much of it is incorporated in this Code of 
Ethics that s been accepted by the IACP. 

Holstrom: I now remember the "Square Deal Code" and I had forgotten it. 
Of course you developed it. I don t think I have any more 
questions and I don t want to go over the same ground that you 
went over. 

JRH: I d be interested to know if you remember occasions in which the 
three of you had been working together or socializing together? 

Wilson: I can t recall. 

Holstrora: Not so much together, but you had many associations with him, 
professionally and socially over the years. The span of 
years vas longer in your case. I served under him, but really 
didn t have a close association with him until after he retired 
from the University in the late 1930 s. Then the association 
in my case vas progressive, personally and professionally, until 
it vas quite intimate in the years preceding and at the time of 
his death. 

Wilson: I have no recollection of the three of us being together at any 

JRH: Both of you say Vollmer vas extremely influential in the commun 
ity, both locally and in the professional community. I haven t 
gotten too much of an idea of his impact on Berkeley and the 
people he vorked vith in Berkeley. In vhat sense vas he influ 

Wilson: I don t think I could recall anything that would bear on this. 
I can recall that he vas friendly vith Berkeley councilmen. 
I can recall some sort of a run-in vith a Berkeley councilman, 
by me not knovingifco the man vas and I vas somewhat chagrined 
vhen I found that he was a Berkeley councilman, but I have no 
information relating to Vollmer 1 s relationships to councilmen 
individually or as a body. Nor the city government. 

JRH: It vas probably before your time that he had to get a charter 

amendment passed in order to become Chief of Police. Later on 
did he need any city council amendments to get any of his 

Holstrom: That really vas not a charter amendment. He vas the Town Marshal 
under vhat I think vas the charter of 1895. I think I saw this 
in some of the materials you had, and hov much he did or didn t 
have to do with the incorporation vork and the charter of 1909, I 
don t know. But it vould be normal to believe that the 1909 
charter simply ratified automatically the position of Chief of 
Police as one of the officials of the city since this is 
California practice. 

I believe I mentioned to you vhen you speak of his relationship 
vith the community that he vas the early recipient of the 
Benjamin Ide Wheeler Award. This award vas and is awarded bi 
ennially to the citizen of Berkeley who has made the greatest 
contribution to the community. The decision is made of a council 
composed of the presidents of the service clubs, such as Rotary, 
Kivanis and the others, including the Soroptomists, the women s 
organization. So there s a broad base of community representation 
in this avard. The year vas around the early 30 s and the 
document I have is a three or four page recommendation to 
Dr. Herman Schwartz who headed the Pacific School of Religion and 

Holstrom: who was Chairman of the Wheeler Award Committee that year. There 
was representative community feeling about the recipients because 
this has always been true as far as my recollection goes and 
that precedes 1930. 

Wilson: Jane, you asked about his interest in social welfare. I 

recall that someone made a study and published a thin book on, 
I think, Juvenile delinquency in Berkeley. I can t recall the 
name of the author. Do you? 

Holstrom: No, I don t. 

Wilson: He was sufficiently interested and got this book published and he 
was always interested in community organizations and I think he 
developed some program that had to do with social welfare in 

Holstrom: I wonder if what your thinking of is the Coordinating Council. 
This Council has representation from the social agencies in 
your community, including the people in the schools. This is 
a development he talked about in his later years. On one oc 
casion he told me that he felt, and this may have been as late 
as the 1950 s, that perhaps some of the people by that time had 
really forgotten the potential value of the Coordinating Council 
which in his viev was not only effective but essential in coordi 
nating the social agencies in the community. Perhaps touching 
on this too, and this was Just after you left the department, 
O.W. , but I m sure you d know, be brought to Berkeley an 
Elizabeth Anderson who later became Elizabeth Lossing. She 
certainly was not the first policewoman in the country, but she 
was the most prominent one in Berkeley police history because 
she served from 1925 to 19^5 and she s no longer alive. I am 
sure that Mrs. Lossing was educated in some mid-western or 
eastern college in social welfare. Isn t that probably true? 

Wilson: Yes. 

Holstrom: Mrs. Lossing s function for those twenty years was to become in 
volved principally in the disposition of cases and not their 
investigation. The disposition of cases involving women and 
children under tweive. So here was an awareness of social welfare. 

JRH: Did he serve on the Coordinating Council? 
Holstrom: Certainly. 

JRH: What were some of the other groups represented on this Council? 
He served as a representative from the Police Department? 

Holstrom: I remember clearly the schools. I remember his telling me that 
in conjunction with the local school system and I think a man by 
the name of Virgil Dickson was Assistant Superintendent of 
Schools. Some of these people and some of Vollmer s people talked 

Holstrom: about a summer project and I think the name of it was the Hawthorne 
Project. These people on this Coordinating Council, or at least 
the police and school representatives, sat down before the spring 
tern had ended and identified the people they thought might 
become community problems over the summer. Problems in the sense 
of personal, anti-social activities. Gently and diplomatically 
between these agencies, some kind of a program was developed for 
the summer in an effort to prevent these youngsters from getting 
into trouble. I d like to tell you, too, in this connection 
that Mrs. Lossing s unit in the department was not the Juvenile 
bureau and was not the women s bureau, but the crime prevention 
bureau. That title prevailed well into the 1930 s, well after 
Vollmer had left. I probably changed it myself to Juvenile 

JRH: I d be interested to know if you were in together in other groups 
like the Elks or other community groups. 

Wilson: He was an Elk. 

Holstrom: I really think that his personal correspondence files or the files 
in the Berkeley Police Department and in the Bancroft Library 
would reflect this because for his era a good deal of what he did 
was committed to paper and correspondence. 

JRH: Gene Carte mentioned that there is quite a bit and Mr. Wilson has 
mentioned that he was a great writer and that he wrote a lot of 
people, but you mean the records of the Department more than that? 

Holstrom: He was not only a great writer, but he thought that everybody who 
knew anything should put it on paper. One of my disappointments 
to him was that I didn t start writing books whan I was 21 years 
old. I ll never forget when I was a young patrolman and I might 
have been all of about 23 years old and, as happened before and 
happened afterwards, he was the host to some international visitors. 
These were three or four English policemen of the caliber you 
later associated with Chief Constables of the larger cities. 
Vollmer invited them to California after an IACP conference so 
they came to see this great man and this great police department 
which was in the basement of City Hall in truly restricted 
quarters. I happened to be in the Squad Room working on some of 
that overtime we were still doing and he brought these men in to 
see his Squad Room which was adjoining the jail and was the place 
where the policemen changed their clothes, wrote their reports 
and where the newspaper reporters functioned. I stopped running 
the typewriter and turned around and he introduced me to these 
gentlemen and informed them that I had been graduated from the 
University a couple of years before and that I was writing a 
police book. This was untrue but it was the Vollmer method of 
encouraging other people to do things. This bothered me for 
quite a while until I came to the conclusion that I was not going 
to be an author of a police book. 

INDEX John D. Holstrom and Orlando W. Wilson 

Army Alpha Examination, 1, 2 
Ball, Dr. Juan D. , 2 

California Police Association, U 
Carte, Gene, 7 
Coordinating Council, 6, 7 

Daily Calif ornian, The. 1 
Dean, William, 1 
Dickson, Virgil, 6 

Elks [Club], The, 7 

Gordon, Walter, 1, 2 
Greening, Jack, 1 

Hawthorne Project, 7 

International Association of Chiefs of Police, 3, **, 7 

Juvenile Bureau, 7 

Kelley, Douglas, k 

Larson, John, 2, 3 

Law Enforcement Code of Ethics, U 

Lossing, Elizabeth Anderson, 6-7 

Maeshner, Ed. , 1 

McGraw-Hill [Publishing Company], U 

Muelheisen, Gene, h 

Pacific School of Religion, 5 
Police Administration, 3 
Proctor, Ralph, 1 

Rooney, "Doc", 2 
Powell, Hubert, 2-3 

Schwartz, Herman, 5 
"Square Deal Code", U 

University of California, 1 
Bancroft Library, 7 

Wheeler, [Benjamin Ide] Award, 6 

University of California Bancroft Library/Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 

August Vollmer Historical Project 

Milton Chernin 

An interview conducted by 
Jane Howard Robinson 

1972 by The Refrents of The University of California 

University of California Bancroft Library /Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 

August Vollmer Historical Project 

Milton Chernin 

An interview conducted by 
Jane Howard Robinson 

1972 by The Re^nta of The University of California 


Milton Chernin was interviewed by Jane Howard as part of a series on 
the personal and professional history of August Vollmer. Mr. Chernin, 
Dean of the School of Social Welfare at the University of California at 
Berkeley, was selected in order to provide an academic perspective on 
Mr . Vollmer s career . 


Time and Setting 
of the Interview: 


Narrative Account 
of Dean Chernin 
and the Progress 
of the Interview: 

Jane Howard 

A single interview was conducted on July 7, 1971, in 
Dean Chernin s office in Haviland Hall. The session 
began shortly after 2:00 p.m. and ended at approxi 
mately 3:00 p.m. 

Editing of the transcribed tapes was done by Jane 
Howard. Minor rearrangements of the tape were made in 
order to maintain continuity of the discussion without 
interrupting its informal quality. Punctuation and 
spelling were corrected. Dean Chernin made a few 
grammatical changes to clarify and added a few comments 
to amplify his original statements. The changes were 
not substantive. 

Dean Chernin attended the University of California at 
Los Angeles where he received his BA degree in 1929 and 
the University of California at Berkeley where he 
received his Ph.D. in 1937. 

Mr. Chernin has been on the University of California, 
Berkeley staff and faculty since 1931. He worked for 
nine years in the Bureau of Public Administration doing 
research, specializing in studies on welfare and cor 
rections. He also did studies on the state prison and 
parole system which were used by the state in reorganizing 
these services. Mr. Chernin Joined the faculty of the 
School of Social Welfare in 19^0. After a leave of 
absence for service in the Army during World War II, 
he was appointed Dean of the School of Social Welfare. 

Dean Chernin has served on numerous commissions and 
public bodies, including many in the field of law en 
forcement, notably, the California Crime Commission on 
Adult Corrections and Release Procedures, the Northern 


Milton Chernin (contd. ) 

California Citizens Advisory Board to the California 
Attorney General on Crime Prevention, of vhich he was 
Chairman from 19 1 *7-19 l 9. 

The tape follows the questionnaire outline quite 
closely. It begins with a discussion of Chernin 1 s 
early work as a research assistant to Mr. Vollmer. 
Mr. Chernin continues with a lengthy and sophisticated 
discussion of Vollmer s personality, commenting on 
the sense of integrity and dignity that he conveyed. 
He also discusses his belief that Vollmer may have 
overemphasized the relevance of psychological theory 
for policing. 

Turning to stories and anecdotes, Mr. Chernin recalls 
learning forgery and safecracking techniques from 

Mr. Chernin discusses Vollmer s professional impact, 
stressing the fact that Vollraer s ideas had a world 
wide influence and that although his ideas often met 
initial scepticism from his colleagues, the ideas he 
pioneered have become the basis of modern police 

The discussion turns to Vollmer 1 s influence within the 
county and the state and Chernin discusses Vollmer 1 s 
role in the development of the Bureau of Criminal 
Identification and Investigation, and the Alameda 
County Coordinating Council and his police surveys 
throughout the state and nation. 

The interview concludes with some brief comments on 
Vollmer s second wife and with Chernin s reflection 
that Vollmer s suicide, as he sees it, was completely 
congruent with his lifelong style of approaching all 
problems energetically and logically and acting on the 
basis of a rational evaluation of the situation. 

Jane Howard 

Chernin: I an being interviewed about my relationship with August Vollmer 
for an August Volloer historical project. 

First, what was my personal relationship to Vollmer? 

I was Mr. Vollmer s research and teaching assistant for several 
years beginning here in 1929 or 1930 and continuing for several 
years after. I was a graduate student in political science, 
getting my master s and doctor s degree and working part-time as 
a research assistant in the Bureau of Public Administration. At 
that time the Bureau of Public Administration on the Berkeley 
campus had received a very substantial grant from the Rockefeller 
Foundation to start a program in the administration of crininal 
Justice and as a result of this program, which it was carrying out 
in cooperation with the Political Science Dept. and others, there 
were added to its own research staff senior people in various fields, 
such as Herman Adler, the famous psychiatrist and state criminolo- 
gist from the state of Illinois; a man called Hugh Fuller, who was 
an expert on criminal statistics; and August Vollmer, who became a 
professor of political science in our own Political Science Dept. 
on the Berkeley campus and a research associate in the Bureau of 
Public Administration, I was assigned to help Vollmer which I did 
for several years, both in his research work and in his teaching 
of courses on police administration in the Political Science Dept. 

August Vollmer had a very decided impact en ray own life, both 
personally and professionally. As a result of my working for him 
we became fast personal friends and this extended later to my wife 
when I got married because August Vollmer was one of those people 
who established warm and close relationships with people he worked 
with and who extended to them help and relationships in various 
aspects of his life. He also influenced me greatly in my profes 
sional career because, as a result of him and others, I did both 
my master s and doctoral dissertation in the areas of state cor 
rectional systems and for many years afterwards when T Joined the 
faculty of the Berkeley campus, I taught courses in the administration 
of criminal Justice in which police administration played a large 
part and much of my own philosophy about the police and the ad 
ministration of criminal Justice were influenced both by August 
Vollmer s professional opinion and personal education of me as his 
research assistant. 

I shared an office in the basement of South Hall with August Vollmer 
for some years and continued my personal relationship with him long 
after our official relationship ended and when I had gone on to 
other work in the University and he had retired and ceased active 
teaching and research. I used to see him at home and kept in close 
personal touch with him until the time he died. 

Chernin: As his research assistant I did various Jobs; I helped him with 
several of the books he was working on. For example, at one 
point he stimulated the production of a book on police communi 
cation systems to be written by a man called Vivian Leonard who 
was a member of the professional staff, I think, of the Records 
Systems of the Berkeley Police Dept. As a result of that I helped 
Leonard organize that book and gathered material and actually 
wrote the chapter on "police communications systems under emer 
gency conditions" around 1931* and 1935. 

I also did a great deal of the library research for things that 
August Vollmer was interested in, writing on, or working on. I 
remember, for example, in one part of my work for him I traced 
the development of manuals of municipal police departments from 
the very first one that was ever produced in the United States 
when the city of New York professionalized its watch into a police 
department . I traced it through to the very latest manuals that 
we secured from various police departments and T remember to this 
day how much I was impressed by the fact that some of the provi 
sions in the first manual of the New York City Police Dept. are 
still in the manual of current police departments almost unchanged 
and that these had been copied in large measure by the original 
New York City policeman from copies of the manual they had secured 
from Scotland Yard in London. Thus I learned that one aspect of 
administration is to recognize the importance of early developments 
and what a terrific long life some things can have because of the 
tendency of people to copy what someone else did rather than think 
through for themselves what their problems and what their solutions 
may be. 

What kind of a man waa Vollmer? 

Vollmer was a complex person. He cannot be characterized in any 
simple terms. One of the outstanding impressions that I always 
had of him, and I still have of him, was that he was a man of 
great dignity and while he was a friendly person and a warm person, 
I can t remember that anyone ever treated him lightly or with a 
kind of light personal relationship which characterizes many of our 
relationships. Just recently, when talking about Vollmer with 
John Holstrom, I asked Holstrom if he could remember ever being 
on a Joking and funny story or off-color story relationship with 
Vollmer, and he said no that he couldn t and that certainly coin 
cided with my memory of Vollmer, that I couldn t. And yet Holstrom 
had said that he had heard stories of escapadea and relationships 
that Vollmer may have had with other persons in Elk s Club or so 
on. I also heard anecdotes of this kind when Vollraer was the 
Marshal of the City of Berkeley and the kind of friendly relation 
ships he had with some of the fraternity men in the University, 
but certainly I never saw anyone who felt on that kind of personal 
relationship with him. I saw Vollmer in relationship to many men 
whan he loved and who loved him and with whom he had worked and 

Chernin: developed and yet everyone of them treated him with a certain 
respect because of his dignity that was almost similar to what 
I suspect must go on in close personal relationships with men who 
have become President of the United States and yet who probably 
have close friends or members of their family who address them as 
Mr. President. This of course was a tremendous reflection of this 
man s worth, his self-esteem and the fact that ao many of the per 
sons with whom he associated recognized that he was one of the 
great men of this century and perhaps in world history in the 
area of police administration and his contributions to it. 

Another aspect that always impressed me about August Vollraer was 
the wide variety and heterogeneity of the people whom he knew, who 
came to see him, whom he associated with, and whom he influenced. 
I remember sharing his office in the basement of South Hall, which 
was also shared by Mrs. Muriel Hunter who for many years was his 
secretary. The three of us would work in that office and so we 
had an opportunity to see the wide variety of different kinds of 
people who came to see August Vollmer. These included all kinds of 
foreign visitors from the police administration field; they included 
people from local and other police departments in the United 
States; scholarly people from other universities who came to see 
him about the developments in police administration; students and 
other faculty members. But interestingly also, and what impressed 
me very much as a young graduate student, were the number of crimi 
nals and people whom Vollmer may have arrested or had something to 
do with their criminal careers, who came to see him after they had 
served prison sentences and so on because of their great trust in 
him and their need to get some guidance and possibly to hit him 
up for a loan and so on because he was not only able and willing 
to discuss their problems but was willing and able to help them by 
giving them money and so on. I don t know whether any of them 
thought of him as a soft touch but he was a man who believed in 
helping people in a wide variety of practical ways. 

JRH: Vollmer s great dignity didn t tend to put people off? 

Chernin: It was very interesting that his dignity did not put people off 
because his dignity was only one aspect of the man s personality. 
His warmth, his concern, his obvious integrity he was one of 
the most principled men that I have ever met. It would never occur 
to anyone that this man could ever be suborned or bribed, or pre 
judiced or in any other way influenced from what he thought was 
right. He had such a tremendous capacity to live his kind of a 
life and I think it came through to all kinds of people with whom 
he related, whom he helped in many ways, whom he inspired towards 
all kinds of work. 

I recall another very important aspect of Vollmer s personality 
that always impressed me and which I say not in criticism but as 
an insight T think I developed. Vollmer really had, and displayed 
in much of what he did, a basic insecurity in his own knowledge 

Chernin: because of his own lack of formal education which in some ways 

led him to respect formal education and to expect from men who had 
more of it than he did more than was really available in them. 
My own impression on this is that Vollmer probably had more faith 
in what psychiatrists could contribute to the understanding of a 
policeman s personality and character; whet psychiatrists could 
do to help in the selection of policemen, the education and train 
ing of policemen and in the coping with various problems of 
police discipline, etc., probably Vollmer expected more from this 
area of knowledge and from the psychiatrists whom he employed, 
whom he associated with and whom he worked with than they were 
actually capable of delivering or that their knowledge base was 
capable of furnishing. It always seemed to me that in this one 
area and particularly the fact that August Vollmer did not have a 
great deal of formal education (my understanding was that he had a 
high school education plus a summer s work in a proprietary school 
of business at which time he went to work as a policeman and was 
elected Marshal), that this came through and formed some sort of a 
basic lead to understanding this man. I make this point because I 
hadn t heard it discussed by his friends and his admirers and yet 
because of my own background as an academic in the University, I 
think I was aware of this. I also think that it partly affected 
Vollmer s behavior in the University and affected partly his own 
conception of his place on a University faculty. I think in a 
subtle way he always felt a bit inferior on a faculty because of 
this lack of advanced education and not simply because he didn t 
have a doctorate and couldn t be addressed as doctor; it was much 
more subtle than that. I do believe that if someone were to write 
a penetrating biography of August Vollmer this particular aspect 
of him would have to be explored much more fully. 

Having said this I think I must emphasize that it must be Judged 
in the light of the fact that he was probably one of the most in 
novative, thoughtful, contributing men to the improvement of police 
administration, police science and basic ideas in police work. 
These contributions of his covered the whole gemut of the police 
field of which the following are a few examples; the use of psychi 
atric information and knowledge in the selection of policemen and 
in influencing his concept of how a policeman should behave and 
what a policeman s work should be; his developments and his contri 
butions to the development of police communications systems because 
he was one of the first who utilized radio in communicating with 
policemen when they were on the beat; in transportation he was 
one of the pioneers in taking policemen off of foot patrol and 
putting them first on bicycles and then in automobiles in order to 
enhance their efficiency and the economy of utilization. 

One of his greatest contributions was an idea that he pursued for 
years and that was to try to develop and analyze scientifically all 
of the aspects of the police patrolman s work and to weight the 
various duties and responsibilities that a policeman had on patrol 

Chernin: in order to work out a more scientific basis for constructing a 
police beat. It was interesting that I learned from him and 
through the research I did for him, that the essential concept 
of the police beat had been worked out by Sir Robert Peel when 
he created the London professional police force in the early 
nineteenth century in vhich he bad Just taken a map of London 
and laid it out in squares vhich corresponded to the number of 
policemen he had. This particular simplistic idea of the geo 
graphic beat had not been changed in its essentials since it was 
Introduced by Peel. Vollmer Justly perceived that this was com 
pletely unscientific and irrational and not very productive and 
that it created a great many inequities in police work. He 
decided that one of the things that ought to be done vas to analyze 
and break up the policeman s Job into every kind of a specific 
task that it consisted of; then to get men to keep records of how 
many times they did these particular tasks and how much time it 
took to do each task and then to put these together into some 
sort of a formula. When you put it all together, a police beat 
would come out equitably, giving each man the same total burden 
of work to be done. This of course meant that in a crowded 
downtown area where there were high value property with many 
business doors to be shaken and so on, a man might have a very 
small geographic beat. Whereas in the outlying residential 
areas a man might have a very large geographic beat and still 
not be doing any more in total than the dovntown man. This now 
seems to us to be a very simplistic kind of analysis and yet 
until Vollmer had developed this idea, nobody had thought of this. 
Vollmer devoted a great deal of his own research time to the 
scientific study of the beat; he stimulated many professional 
policemen and students to work on this problem; work which is 
still going on. It is a good example of the kind of scientific 
police administration he conceived of and stimulated. 

JRH: I think most people don t bring this out and I think eventually 

Gene might be interested in writing a biography. You brought out 
that you feel that Vollmer thought that psychiatry could deliver 
more than it can; what about academically? What about his belief 
that education contributes so much to police work? 

Chernin: I think not quite. Why I mentioned psychiatry is that one of 

Vollmer s most compelling intellectual interests was in this whole 
area of the selection of policemen, their education and training, 
especially in their personality areas. He had a conception of the 
policeman as being so much more of a social worker than a preventer 
of crime or the suppresser of criminals through their arrest and 
conviction, that he was inevitably led into this whole area of what 
are the personality attributes of a person who would make an ex 
cellent policeman in his own conception of the breadth of this man s 
responsibilities. During all his life, he read avidly and studied 
avidly in this area of personality development, including an attempt 
to find out what the biological, sociological, psychological, 

Chernin: anthropological components of personality analysis and develop 
ment were. In all of these areas it seemed to me that Vollmer 
suffered from the fact that his own formal education had never 
given him an adequate knowledge base; to feel absolutely secure 
in his own ability to understand what he read and sometimes I 
felt that he Just didn t have the knowledge base to be able 
critically to evaluate what he was reading, and what the signifi 
cance of these contributions were. I had the feeling often 
times that he was beyond his depth in this kind of study which he 
pursued relentlessly and that he often turned for guidance and 
counseling in these areas to men who might not have been the best 
minds in that particular area but whose advice and counsel he 
took perhaps with more trust than was Justified. I didn t, however, 
feel that this was a handicap to him in such areas as the knowl 
edge base for administrative organization and for the actual or 
ganization of police departments and so on because there, it seems 
to me, either the knowledge base was much more easily comprehen 
sible to men without too much formal education or that it was the 
kind of knowledge which he was equipped much more adequately to 
grasp from his own experience and his own reading. Here I think 
he made a contribution about which every thoughtful analysis will 
come out in the same way; namely that he was thoroughly competent 
to make an outstanding contribution in those areas. 

Vollmer, I am sure, made a deep and lasting impression on all 
kinds of people all over the world. He had a reputation which 
gave him great stature among practicing policemen and among police 
administrators both here and abroad. His reputation in England 
among police administrators there was probably almost as great as 
it was in this country. He had a very high reputation among the 
academic people interested in police science and police adminis 
tration. As a matter of fact, many of the different college cur 
ricula in police administration which started to develop under his 
aegis were pioneered by the men he had educated both at the 
University of Chicago and here. Their content was probably more 
affected by August Vollmer than by any other single person that I 
know of. He impressed a wide spectrum of people with the fact 
that he was a great man and unlike what the poet usually says, that 
you have to wait until after death for recognition to come, he was 
recognized widely in the United States and all over the world as 
a great man in police administration during his lifetime. He im 
pressed generations of students, he trained generations of students 
for leadership positions in police work and many of the men who 
became the outstanding professors of police administration after 
he retired, such as Orlando W. Wilson, are people who served with 
him in the Berkeley Police Dept. or whom he had trained and educated 
afterwards. Vollner was one of these fortunate men who in his own 
lifetime was recognized and rewarded in many ways for the great 
contributions he had made in his work. 

Chernin: When it comes to anecdotes and stories about Vollmer, most of 
what I remember I think he told me about himself. He used to 
tell me and others with a great deal of pleasure, some of the 
sort of escapades that he had lived through vhen he was the 
elected Marshal of the City of Berkeley; with fraternity boys 
and the escapades that they used to carry on around the University 
and with which he had to cope and how he used much more the idea 
of personal influence on them rather than harsh pressure. I m 
not sure whether I heard from him or from others the fact that he 
would often Join in a beer bust and so on and as a matter of fact 
I think I may be confusing these escapades during the time he was 
a Marshal with those when I think he was a mail carrier here in 
Berkeley and that some of these escapades may have been when he 
delivered mail to the various fraternities and perhaps Joined them 
in a little escapade. 

By and large I don t recall too much of the lighter side of Vollmer. 
I do recall that he was a man who had a tremendous amount of prac 
tical knowledge of criminal behavior and I still recall how he 
once taught me the elementary ways of becoming a forger. I still 
show this off myself with company as a parlor game. What Vollmer 
told me was that the essential thing if you want to become a 
forger is to break the writing habits that we have developed in 
the way we write long after any conscious concept of what we do 
has disappeared. If you wanted to forge a signature, you cannot 
forge it if you are trying deliberately to write the person s name 
because your own unconscious habits of forming the letters get into 
the way of copying this so what you do is you turn the signature 
that you re trying to forge upside down and then try to reproduce 
the form of the writing upside down and from back to the front and 
in this way the signature ceases to be letr.ers and becomes a form. 
Then he showed me about it and asked me to try it and I was aston 
ished that the very first time I tried it, I came up with a better 
facsimile of a signature than I could have made if I tried it the 
other way. These are the sort of things he had a wide fund of 
knowledge of and it impressed me. He told me, for example, how 
easy it was to get into a house if what it had was a hog-eye lock 
and key. It s really one of the old-fashioned types of household 
keys and he said that it was so simple to manipulate. He also told 
me other things about how you could get into a more complex lock 
with a little piece of celluloid and so on. Not having any mechani 
cal skill I never really practiced this, but this was an example of 
a great many things Vollmer had and knew and shared. 

JRH: Not necessarily light anecdotes do you recall more serious 

Chernin: Yes I do but I don t remember an awful lot of them because most of 
the time when I was working with him and so on we were doing other 
things but I suspect that others might have been on a different 
relationship and perhaps would know a little more about him than I 

Chernin: did in those areas. I suppose there was also, in relationship 
to this whole matter, a generation gap between us and he may 
very well have shared more of this with men a little closer to 
his own age than I was. 

What was Vollmer s professional impact? 

My own impression was that Vollmer probably had greater influence 
on the development of police administration in the United States, 
its modernization, its introduction of what we would consider 
developments of the 20th century, both in the United States and 
elsewhere, than any other single person. I would suspect that he 
ranks in the twentieth century right along with the traditional 
concept of what Sir Robert Peel did in the modernization of police 
work in the 19th century. I know that he had a tremendous influence 
on how municipal and other police departments developed in almost 
every aspect of their work. His reputation extended to knowledge 
and influence on police departments of all sizes, from the largest 
metropolitan ones to the small, modest size police departments 
like Berkeley. This influence was extended not only through the 
example he set when he was developing the Berkeley Police Department 
into a national and international model which was visited by 
police administrators from all over the world, but his influence 
was spread by the fact that he was very influential in the Inter 
national Association of Chiefs of Police in which he held high 
office and in which he had been active and which often times took 
his ideas and developed them after a good bit of lag because many 
of his ideas were threatening to established chiefs of police and 
conservative ones. Often they would pooh-pooh them when they first 
heard them and then a few years later when you were reading the 
proceedings of the International Association of Chiefs of Police 
you read of their acceptance. Incidentally, that s part of the Job 
I did for Vollmer. I read every one of its proceedings from the 
time it was first organized until I quit work for him. It was 
interesting to see how influential his ideas were in that organi 
zation, over time. 

JRH: What were people saying when his ideas were advanced and people 
wouldn t accept them at first? What were people saying against 

Chernin: They were usually the kind of scepticism of new ideas and new ap 
plications with which almost all professionals involved in day by 
day administrative responsibilities react when they hear a strange 
idea. If you say "put policemen on bicycles" and policemen never 
did anything but walk on foot, your reaction is to pooh-pooh the 
idea of a bicycle or to say if a man was on a bicycle he would 
whiz by the things he ought to, as a police patrolman, see. We 
see that particular kind of a problem right now in the perennial 
discussion of whether police work hasn t really deteriorated now 
that policemen ride around in automobiles and very few policemen 
pound a foot beat . You can still read in police literature and in 

Chernin: newspapers articles deploring the passing of the good old days 

when the police patrolman knew everybody on his beat and was able 
to prevent crime because of this. 

Similarly, with the development of other sorts of police adminis 
trative innovations in communication. Vollmcr s span of police 
work in police communications covered the development of police 
recall systems and improvement through call boxes and then went 
on to radio. The radio was first one-way radio and then became 
two-way radio and then again even three-way radio. Every one of 
these was met with scepticism at first and then technological 
developments came along and then pretty soon what was perceived 
as an impractical suggestion became the standard and acceptable 
way of doing things. 

One of the things that Vollmer was influential in developing and 
which certainly met with a great deal of scepticism was the de 
velopment of the modus operand! system: the idea that professional 
criminals would have developed a certain technique of doing their 
thing which, if carefully reported on and analyzed and coded and 
put in a file, might lead to the identification of a criminal 
beyond the development of fingerprints left and recaptured at the 
scene. This he helped pioneer and you can imagine the scepticism 
with which such an idea was first met. It would seem that it was 
either fantastic or much too complicated, etc. Now the modus 
operand! system, not only on the local level, but on the state 
and national level, is taken as one of the indispensible aspects 
of police work. When I worked with Vollmer this was back far 
enough so that modus operand! was still being developed and he was 
pioneering it. This is the kind of an example of a man whose 
constant questing mind always approached every problem of police 
administration from the point of view that said, "if this is the 
way it s always been done , that s why you should suspect it , 
analyze it and see whether there isn t a better way of doing it" 
rather than the approach that most of us have toward problems which 
is "this is the way it s always been done and so that s the right 
way of doing it." It never occurs to us that maybe there s a better 
way of doing it. 

I would Just summarize the question about what were the major 
influences Vollmer had on policemen education and training and 
other areas to say that in his lifetime he probably pioneered and 
developed new ideas in every one of the important areas. For 
example, in training, August Vollmer became identified with the 
idea that the policeman ought to have a great deal of education 
and training so that the college cop became identified with Vollraer s 
idea that a policeman was a professional person and that professional 
education and training of a policeman probably required as much 
formal education as a baccalaureate degree in college would require. 
This led actually to some false ideas about the Berkeley Police 
Dept. because nationally it became a cliche that the Berkeley 
Police Dept. required college education for its policemen. This 


Chernin: never was the truth. It probably was true that the Berkeley Police 
Dept. under Vollmer s administration and that of his successors, 
had a higher proportion of men with either full college educations 
or part college educations than other police departments, but it 
never was true that the Berkeley Police Dept. required a baccalaure 
ate in order to get on the force and that it ever tried to achieve a 
force with this kind of formal education. The college cop became 
inevitably associated with Vollmer s idea that police work required 
much more formal education than most policemen had. 

I remember an incident in his life at a time when Vollmer was called 
to testify in a court case testing an attempt by the Oakland Civil 
Service Commission, probably instigated by the chief of police who 
was influenced by Vollmer, to set a standard for the recruitment of 
Oakland policemen which I think would have set the standard at two 
years of college education or perhaps of high school graduation. 
This standard was challenged in a court suit in the Alameda County 
Superior Court and Vollmer was called as an expert to testify on 
the basis of his expertise, this particular standard (whether it 
was high school or two years of college, I m not sure, but it was 
higher than that which had prevailed till that time), was a necessary 
and reasonable standard related to the requirements of police work. 
That case was lost in spite of Vollmer s testimony because the Judge 
found that it violated the provision of the Oakland City Charter 
which at that time said that a policeman had to have only an eighth 
grade education. Vollmer felt rather badly that old provisions were 
still effective when he was so convinced that nobody with only an 
8th grade education was sufficiently educated and trained to do the 
complex and demanding work that a policeman s work demanded. 

JRH: Were they ever able to get that provision changed? 

Chernin: I think so, although I didn t follow it. Most police departments 
now probably are up to the level of a high school education but 
still I suspect that how much education and the idea that a policeman 
could be over-educated and that there really isn t anything that 
complex about a police department and the old cliches that police 
chiefs used to say Why, Just give me the man and I ll give him 
his gun and his club and a badge and tell him to go out and enforce 
the ten commandments and by God that s all a policeman needs to 
know to be a darn good policeman I suppose there s still parts 
of the world and parts of the United States where practical men think 
that that probably is all that s required. Probably there are still 
places where policemen are recruited with no more education and 
training that that. 

In what ways was Vollmer influential in the community in Berkeley 
and in Alameda County? 

In Berkeley Vollmer had become during his lifetime one of the most 
influential men who had ever lived in the community, both in *lj of 
the work that he did as Police Chief and the things that he actually 


Chernin: developed in the city of Berkeley in the way of how to do police 
work. Vollmer was one of the organizers and developers of the 
coordinating council idea in which he and Virgil Dickson, the 
Berkeley Superintendent of Schools, tried to develop, and did, an 
idea which swept the country and became one of the standard features 
of advanced municipal organization. In the coordinating council 
the police and the school people and the voluntary welfare agencies 
got together to work to coordinate their planning and their adminis 
tration of different programs for dealing with young people and 
Juveniles who were classified as delinquents. Vollmer developed 
this idea in Berkeley and it spread all over the country and became 
a national movement of coordinating councils. At the time, when I 
knew Vollmer, a coordinating council was perceived as a sort of a 
panacea. Now, with our greater sophistication we see that it 
couldn t possibly have the effect that people thought it could or 
should have. Nevertheless, this was Just an example of the kind of 
thing that Vollmer stood for in the city of Berkeley. He was prob 
ably one of the most influential men who ever lived here. 

Similarly, I suspect, he had influence not only in the city but also 
in the county, although it s harder to influence sheriffs and their 
police work than it is municipal policemen and chiefs and their 
police work. Vollmer was a great authority on how to improve rural 
police. He had ideas and wrote about how to improve Jails. One of 
the things that he was very familiar with and introduced and popu 
larized in this country was that our police system was derived from 
England and we brought over to this country, lock, stock and barrel, 
the English, the Anglo-Saxon, common law basic ideas of how to or 
ganize police. Yet, the English were far ahead in reorganizing their 
police departments and doing away in the middle of the 19th century 
with the sheriff as a significant law enforcement officer in rural 
areas and replacing him with a much more professionally oriented rural 
police set-up. We in the United States still cling to the elective 
sheriff as a law enforcement officer long after the country from 
which we borrowed the institution has recognized it as an anachronism. 

Vollmer, I remember, used the English model for nationwide setting 
of standards for both urban and rural police departments and enforc 
ing these standards through grants-in-aid from the National Treasury 
to help pay for the costs of local police administration based on the 
local police administration living up to the standards and based on a 
periodic review of their performance. He used this English develop 
ment as a basis for calling the desirability of similar developments 
in the United States to the attention of American police officials 
and political leaders. From that point of view Vollmer was always 
interested in the development of a state police system and he had me do 
a great deal of research for him on the origins and the development 
of state police systems, state highway patrols. He also had a man 
who did a great deal of writing in the police field, a man called 
Alfred Parker, who started out by being a teacher in the Berkeley 
High School I think but who developed an interest in writing and who 
wrote a couple of books on police, state police and police administration 


Chernin: with the encouragement and help of August Vollmer. 

Vollner had this kind of state influence on the development of 
police. I can t recall what relationship and activities Vollmer 
actually had with the FBI. I may have known that and he must have 
had some but I can t remember that with any accuracy. My own 
scepticism about the FBI and my own tendency to try to avoid being 
taken in by the massive propaganda of that outfit may have come 
from my relationship with Vollmer and whatever he may have told 
me about the reality of the FBI performance, etc., but I m not sure 
of that. 

JRH: But wasn t he supposed to have some influence on some of the ideas 
Hoover may have used in setting up the FBI? 

Chernin: That may have been, because Vollmer had some very good ideas. The 
FBI s idea that their men ought to be college-trained and either 
lawyers or accountants, etc. would have been consonant with Vollmer s 
idea of adequate training for specialized police investigators. One 
of the things that I now recall that Vollmer was very influential in 
was the development of scientific criminal investigation and the use 
of science, biological and physical and chemical, to aid in the 
investigation and detection of crime. He did this through his close 
association with a man called Heinrich who developed into probably 
one of the best known scientific police investigators and lab men in 
the United States. This was closely associated with Vollmer s 
knowledge of and interest in the application of science to the in 
vestigation of crime. Vollmer s reputation in this area probably 
actually exceeds the reality of the application of science to the 
investigation of crime because this is something which the public 
eagerly bought which was highly publicized by newspapers and magazines 
and articles, which lends itself to Sunday supplements. I remember 
there are lots of anecdotes about people and crimes that are solved 
and it has a fascinating interest for scientific writers. Vollmer 
was serious in his belief that science could be and should be applied 
to criminal investigation and I suspect that this too is one of the 
areas in which he made a very significant contribution to the devel 
opment of police administration. 

Question: You asked how did Vollmer related to the people with whom 
he dealt with on a frequent and close basis. I think I ve said more 
or less most of what I can recall here. 

JRH: You didn t mention anything about activities on a state level. 

Chernin: He must have been very influential with men like Earl Warren (formerly 
District Attorney of Alameda County, then Attorney General of 
California, Governor of California and Chief Justice of the U.S. 
Supreme Court ) whom he must have known very well . 

JRH: During the time you were working for him you don t recall his meeting 
with Warren or anything like that? 


Chernin: I don t recall it specifically but I do recall that he must have 
done this because in the first place Warren s terms as District 
Attorney of Alameda County must have overlapped in some way with 
Vollmer s functioning as a police chief. I m not sure about the 
dates. The other thing is that at one time in this period, we 
organized under the Bureau cf Public Administration in the Political 
Science Dept. teaching in the area of the administration of criminal 
Justice and there developed a seminar on the administration of 
criminal Justice which for many years was taught by many different 
people being brought in to participate. For awhile Professor May 
or someone taught this seminar and August Vollmer would participate 
in the police part of it and Earl Warren, who was then District 
Attorney of Alameda County, would come in for two or three sessions 
relating to the prosecution function in the administration of 
criminal Justice. I m sure that there must have been very signifi 
cant influence that Vollmer had with Warren and perhaps other gover 
nors. I m almost certain that Vollmer had a very great deal to do 
and influence in the development of the Division of Criminal Identi 
fication and Investigation, the statewide bureau of criminal investi 
gation and identification in the state and the development of a 
statewide police communications system which we still have, and in 
the development of the state criminal records system, lie must have 
had influence on the activity in these areas because for example I 
know that the man who became the head of the Criminal Investigation 
Division, George Brereton, was a man who had his start in the Berkeley 
Police Department and must have had a good deal of his career in 
fluenced by Vollmer with whom he served and studied and who probably 
brought him to the attention of the authorities. His influence in 
the state must have been very great. 

Evidently one thing that was very interesting in Vollmer s career is 
the fact that he became one of the great police analysts. He became 
a great authority on making police surveys and he went all over the 
United States surveying municipal police departments, analyzing their 
problems and making suggestions for their reform. I remember the 
reports he wrote, copies of which he would put in libraries which 
became the origins of police textbooks. His police survey techniques 
and the kinds of principles he applied in formulating and diagnosing 
the problems of municipal police departments and in making recommen 
dations for their improvement were the fundamental bases out of which 
the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the International 
City Managers Association produced a series of textbooks in munici 
pal administration. Their textbook on police administration which 
became a bible and still is I think for police administrators, really 
had its origin in the kinds of police survey techniques and principles 
that Vollmer developed and that people like John Holstrom used. 
John told me recently that he had learned how to do these police 
surveys from Vollmer and that he now in some sense has taken Vollmer s 
place in making these surveys. Certainly O.W. Wilson, who had been 
Chief of Police in Wichita, Kansas and who started in Berkeley, was 
for many years the Dean of our School of Criminology on the Berkeley 
campus, must have learned the technique of police surveys from Vollmer 

Chernin: and applied them so that he too is known for the number of police 
surveys that he made. 

As a result of this, in the 20 s, I m not sure what the date was, 
Vollmer was asked to come down and survey the Los Angeles Police 
Dept. at a time when it was steeped in corruption. This police 
corruption stemmed from the fact that the Mayor s office of Los 
Angeles was corrupt and the police department there had developed 
a kind of close political domination and corruption which is often 
associated with a political mayor and the incursion of vice and 
gambling interests into a metropolitan police force. Vollmer went 
down there and did the survey of the L.A. Police Dept. and became, 
for awhile, the acting Chief of Police of L.A. I remember him 
telling me that he was framed down there. The gambling and vice 
interests deliberately tried to frame him with a woman, to make a 
scandal so that he would be driven out of town and they could des 
troy the reforms that he had recommended and had instituted. This 
didn t vork and the fact is that the Los Angeles Police Department 
even to this day remains among the most professional, efficient and 
honest police departments because of Vollmer s reforms. He insti 
tuted a civil service system of selection and promotion that ex 
tended upward, even to the Chief of Police. This stemmed directly 
from recommendations that Vollmer made of how one should go about 
taking a corrupt police department and making it into a very ef 
ficient police department. He had similar influences on many of the 
police departments of the world and it was on this basis that he had 
developed an international reputation because of his surveys. I 
remember distinctly that he did a survey of the Honolulu Police 
Department . 

August Vollmer was married; we knew his wife. His wife died before 
August Vollmer did. He didn t have any children. He did have a 
niece, who was, I believe, the daughter of his brother. I can t 
remember very much about the niece except that I do know that she 
came up in our conversations. I don t remember having met her but 
she did have some meaning for Vollmer. This may be why he enjoyed 
the company of young students so much because they filled a need in 
a person s life to be related to younger people. He was a very 
hospitable man in that regard. 

I also remember now an anecdote about Vollmer that I think has some 
significance. For many years August Vollmer had problems that all 
great men have and that is, he was Just flooded with invitations 
to speak, serve on committees, to sponsor worthy causes, to appear 
at all kinds of events on every level of the community and on the 
state and national levels. He had a very interesting way of coping 
with this flood of demands on his time. Sometime before I got to 
know him and all through our relationship, Vollmer was supposed to 
have been convalescing from a heart condition and it was widely 
known that he was a man who had had a heart attack, was convalescing 
under a doctor s care, and he had to be careful. He used this par 
ticular condition as an acceptable screening device for turning 
down most of the things that sheer volume forced him to turn down. 


Chernin: He could be very selective and do the sorts of things and Join the 
sorts of organizations, attend the sort of meetings, give the sort 
of speeches etc. that he wanted to. He could turn down all the 
others in an acceptable and perfectly sociable way which left the 
requester with the impression of his graciousness and interest, 
but that he couldn t do it. He had his own value system as to what 
he wanted to do and what he didn t want to do. The reason I mention 
this is that rather late in our relationship I noticed that Vollmer 
had taken to smoking again because for many years he didn t smoke. 
I used to smoke and I had asked him whether he had ever smoked and 
he said yes, he smoked a great deal but when he had this heart attack 
they told him that he had better lay off smoking and drinking and he 
had done so. Then I asked him about it because I noted that he had 
started smoking again. He smoked small cigars, and he laughed and 
said, well, I just decided that I m well enough now to indulge 
mildly in a habit; that I like to smoke and I don t do it in excess. 
I had the impression then that maybe his heart condition had not 
actually been so serious as I had always assumed it was and that he 
had developed this very nice way of coping with one of the great 
problems of the well-known and of the great in an acceptable way. 

I think I ought to mention the most enigmatic thing about Vollmer 
is how he died by his own hand and about circumstances I don t know 
in detail except that after he lost his wife he was obviously a 
lonely man. He lived in his house on Euclid Ave. in Berkeley and 
we went to visit him. He had a very nice house on the upper hilly 
side of Euclid Avenue. His study was on the basement floor and he 
would receive people there. He had a housekeeper, but towards the 
end when we went to visit him it was obvious that he was lonely; 
that his social life probably wasn t very great. Then he developed 
this incurable illness. I don t recall what it was. I think it 
may have been some form of cancer and probably towards the end of 
his life he was in great pain although he never shared this with a 
person like myself. As is known he shot himself. This has always 
been sort of puzzling to me because I don t think as a person I 
have sorted out my own feelings about suicide. Not that I have any 
religious scruples about it at all, because I don t, but of course 
it was very regretful that this great man came to a premature end. 
I guess I really end up by admiring the courage of the man because 
I think it takes a great deal of courage to end one s own life. 
I probably wouldn t have such courage. I guess in a sense I ve 
developed the view that this was one last aspect of the greatness of 
this man in coping with problems and coming to their solutions. 
In our society in which suicide is frowned upon it also meant that 
his end in some ways was a bit of a cloud on his reputation. I 
mention it because I m sure there are other people who will and I 
wanted to note that if sometime or other Vollmer gets an adequate 
biographer, who will write a book explaining his life the way it 
ought to be done, he will have to cope with this particular problem 
of how this great man, and his great life came to an end. 


JRH: Are there other people who would give a different perspective on 
his life? 

Chernin: If Mrs. Muriel Herock Hunter is still around, and if you haven t 
interviewed her you should. She was his secretary for about 5 or 
6 years during the sane period I was in his service. The last I 
knew of her, she was the social worker on the staff of the Alameda- 
Contra Costa Medical Assocation with offices on Piedmont Avenue 
near College. She may have retired by now. She would give you a 
glimpse of him from the view of a secretary and a close friend. 

Eric BeLkjuist, Professor of Political Science, is still here. He 
certainly knew him because Eric and I were friends at the time 
when I worked with Vollmer. I don t know how much he would know. 


liiDEX Milton S. Chernin 

Adler, Herman, 1 

Alameda Covmty Superior Court , 10 

Bellquist, Eric, 16 
Berkeley, city of, 10-11 

marshal, 7 

police department, 6, 8-10 

records systems , 2 

California, state of 

Division of Criminal Identification and Investigation, 13 

Highway Patrol, 9-1 1 * 

state police system, 11 
Chernin, Milton 

research and other work for Vollmer, 2 
Coordinating Council, 11 

Dickson, Virgil, 11 
Elk s Club, 2 

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 12 
Fuller, Hugh, 1 

Heinrich, E. 0., 12 

Holstrom, John, 2, 13 

Honolulu Police Department survey, lU 

Hoover, J. Edgar, 12 

Hunter, Muriel Herock, 3, l6 

International Association of Chiefs of Police, 8, 13 
International City Managers Association, 13 

Leonard, Victor, 2 

Los Angeles, city of, lU 

civil service system, lU 

police department, lb 

scandal, I 1 * 

May, Professor Samuel C. , 13 

Oakland Civil Service Commission, 10 

Parker, Alfred, 11 
Peel, Sir Robert, 5, 8 
police procedures, 2, U-6, 8-9 
psychiatrists , U 


Rockefeller Foundation, 1 

University of California at Berkeley 

Bureau of Public Administration, 1, 13 

fraternities, 7 

Political Science Department, i f 13 

School of Criminology, 13 

South Hall, 1, 3 
University of Chicago, 6 

Vollmer, August, passim 

heart condition, lU-15 

innovations , U , 8-9 

personality, 2-k 

professional impact, 8-13 

suicide, 15 

teaching at University of California at Berkeley, 

Warren, Earl, 12-13 
Wilson, Orlando W. , 6, 13 

University of California Bancroft Library/ Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 

August Vollmer Historical Project 

General William Dean 

An interview conducted by 
Jane Howard Robinson 

1972 by The Regents of The University of California 


William Dean, born in 1899, vas interviewed by Jane Howard as part of 
a series on August Vollmer. Major General Dean brings the perspective of 
a man who served under Vollmer only as a "college cop," but who carried out 
Vollmer principles in a very distinguished military career. 


Time and Setting of 
the Interview: 


Jane Howard 

One interview was conducted with General Dean on 
July 8, 1971, in his Berkeley Hills home. The inter 
view began around 10:30 a.m. and concluded at approxi 
mately noon. 

Initial editing of the transcript was done by 

Jane Howard; corrections in grammar and paragraphing 

were made. 

Narrative Account 
of General Dean 
and the Progress 
of the Interview: 

Jane Howard and General Dean held an editing session 
on January 22, 1972. At this time General Dean dic 
tated extensive changes in the interview. The changes 
made were largely directed at improving style and 
grammar. General Dean also eliminated a fairly long 
discussion of John Larson s contributions to the . 
Berkeley Police Department and a number of comments on 
other ex-Berkeley police officers. 

Major General Dean was born in 1899 in Carlyle, Illinois. 
He graduated from the University of California at 
Berkeley in 1922. During his years at Berkeley, he 
served (from October 1, 1921 to November 15, 1923) as 
a Berkeley Police Department "college cop" on the 
graveyard shift. 

General Dean resigned to accept a commission as a 
second lieutenant in the Army. He rose through the 
ranks to become Military Governor of South Korea in 
1952. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor 
after his service in Korea. 

General Dean is now retired and now active with Boy 
Scouts of America. 


William Dean (contd. ) 

The interview begins with Dean s explanation of how 
he came to work for the Berkeley Police Department. 
He discusses Vollmer s principles, particularly his 
emphasis on preventing rather than Judging crimes. 
He compares Vollmer to General Me Arthur and Marshall. 
He talks about the salary and benefits in the 
Berkeley Police Department in the 1920 s. 

General Dean continues, with examples of Vollmer s 
foresight: "college cops", school boy patrols, radio 
communication, the State Bureau of Identification 
and Investigation, modus operandi. The General then 
recalls his continuing contacts with Vollmer over the 
years, and tells an anecdote on how the fact that he 
had worked with Vollmer served to improve his relation 
with the Japanese National Police force when he was 
part of the Occupation Forces after World War II. 

He discusses Vollmer s integrity and his influence on 
his own life. He discusses some basic Vollmer 
principles that he carried into his military career. 

General Dean recalls Vollmer s application of his ideas 
to the solution of burglary problems, and remembers he 
was one of the earliest people to recommend treatment , 
rather than punishment, of drug addiction. 

On questioning, Dean recollects that Vollmer fought 
efforts of the Klu KLux Klan to organize in Berkeley, 
and that he and Earl Warren worked together with mutual 

The interview concludes with mention of letters received 
from Vollmer by Dean during his captivity in Korea and 
with comments on drug and fraternity problems in the 
1920 s. 

Jane Howard 

Interview with Major General William F. Dean, July 8, 1971. 

JRH: How did you first get to Know August Vollmer? 

Dean: When, on July 19 1921, I Joined the Berkeley Police Department. 

JRH: How did you get recruited to the force? 

Dean: I saw in the paper that they were giving intelligence tests to 
Berkeley students who had to be at least seniors and who would 
like to go into the Berkeley Police Department. So I went 
down and took the examination and was informed that I had passed 
and was on the list. 

That summer I was working up at the Hetch Hetchy San Francisco 
Water Project and I received a telephone call from my parents 
that I was to report to the Berkeley Police if I wanted the 
Job, so I reported to Berkeley and took a physical, and passing 
that. .. .There were four of us Taylor, myself, Thayer, and one 
other whose name I ve forgotten. 

We were sworn in by August Vollmer himself. We d met him and 
learned to respect and admire him as a man and in the work he 
was doing. The papers publicized everything he did. When you 
met the man, he had the qualities of two other men I ve known: 
George Marshall and Douglas MacArthur. All three had the 
capacity to look through you and you d think they knew exactly 
what you were thinking. You didn t feel uncomfortable but you 
felt you d better not try to tell anything but the whole truth 
when you spoke to them. August Vollmer Just mesmerized you; 
at least he did me. 

When we reported for work, we didn t have a training school in 
those days, we were sent out for two or three days with a 
patrolman on the beat and then when the patrolman thought that 
you were okay , you were put on a beat . But , before we were put 
on a beat, August Vollmer talked to us. He impressed me so much 
then; he said that we should remember as police officers we are 
not the court. "You re not to Judge people; you re Just to 
report what they do wrong. Better still, you can prevent people 
from doing wrong; that s the mission of a policeman." He also 
stated: "I ll admire you more if in the first year you don t 
make a single arrest. I m not Judging you on arrests. I m 
Judging you on how many people you keep from doing something 
wrong. Remember you re almost a father-confessor; you re to 
listen to people, you re to advise them, you may be called in 
on marital difficulties and you go in and do your best. This 
will always be a thankless Job because both sides will be against 
you." He gave us an insight into police work we hadn t had. 

Dean: He said, "Whatever you do, don t bawl a person out. Tell them 
they re doing wrong, but don t bawl them out. Don t raise 
your voice, because you can t punish them yourself. That s not 
your mission; your mission is to protect and safeguard the 
property and the lives of the citizens." 

He stressed this policy and we knew he meant it. He didn t mean 
by that that if someone were committing a crime we didn t step 
in and arrest him, but that we could not Just make arrests for 
arrest s sake. Re stated all this so much more clearly than I 
have here, but that was his creed and he lived by it. He didn t 
push anyone because he had not made more arrests than his fellow 
officers. Word got back to him whether or not you were following 
out his policy, not by hired spies, but people would tell him and 
he d call you in and say, "I hear you did so-and-so and I like 
that" or, in another case, he d say, "You were a little rough with 
so-and-so," and he d say, "Explain to me, tell me how it was." He 
was understanding, tolerant and inspirational. 

JRH: What was the population of Berkeley in those days? 
Dean: 85,000, as I recall. 

JRH: Quite a number of people even then. People would still call and 
tell him how things were going? 

Dean: Everybody knew him. He was living at the Elk s Club at the time 
when I was on the force. 

Somebody once ran a stop sign. They put the first traffic light 
in right after I left Berkeley, located at San Pablo and University. 
San Pablo was like the freeway then because freeways were a dream 
of the future. I stopped this individual and he pulled a press 
badge. I was Just pioing to warn him. He said he had a press badge 
and I said that, "That makes no difference, you re endangering 
lives and there s no story that hot." He said, "I m a good friend 
of August Vollmer." "Oh," I said, "If that s the case the Chief 
wouldn t like it if I didn t take you down and book you." So I 
booked him. The Chief called me in and said that was Just the 
thing to do. He said that if anybody says he s one of my personal 
friends, you Just tell them that my personal friends don t do that, 
then you do what you think is right. 

That s the kind of a man Vollmer was. He was a man of the highest 
integrity; he was thinking of his responsibility, not his own 
personal glorification. He was thinking all the time of adding to 
the prestige of the police profession. If anyone had to have an 
education it must be a police officer. He must have an education 
and he must be paid accordingly. 

When I went on the force in July 1921, we got $170 a month and $30 
for the use of our car. You made out on that because you got all 
your oil and gas and the use of that car. You didn t get service or 

Dean: insurance. I bought a brand new Model T Ford, five passenger, 
and it cost me $1*15.00 with everything except a self-starter. 

JRH: Can you compare your salary to say a plumber or an electrician? 

Dean: We made more than a plumber did at that time. Engineers getting 
out of college went to work for $90 a month. It was an out 
standing wage. Young lawyers were graduating and working for 
coffee and doughnuts the first years and here we were going to 
school and getting paid. August Vollmer said we were on duty 
for 2U hours a day so the city furnished our oil and gas for the 
entire 2U hour period. So during your time off you were riding 
on city gas and oil but, as Vollmer said, "I expect you to be on 
duty continuously. If you see any transgressions, don t look the 
other way because you don t have your uniform on." 

The Chief always seemed to know what was happening in Berkeley 
and if an officer happened to be present when an incident occurred 
in which the Chief felt the officer should have taken action as a 
police officer, despite the officer s not being in uniform, he d 
call that officer in and explain he had failed in his duties. 

I especially admired Aup^ist Vollmer because of his foresight; he 
was always thinking ahead and of the future role of the police 
officer. Just prior to recruiting John Larson, originator of the 
lie detector, he brought in Walter Gordon as the first U.C. student 
as a full-time police officer while he was still a student in 
Boalt Hall. The experience of the Department with these two men, 
Walter Gordon and John Larson, as full time officers concurrent 
with their academic work to obtain a J.D. and a Ph.D. respectively, 
was so successful that August Vollmer initiated his "college 
cops" program. Bill Wiltberger, Orlando Wilson, George Brereton, 
Clarence Taylor, Henry Hoar, Kenneth Thayer followed Gordon and 

Another thing I would like to mention about August Vollmer is that 
he was the initiator of the State Bureau of Identification located 
in Sacramento. The first man that went up to organize it was one 
of Vollaer s officers that left Berkeley to take this Job shortly 
before I Joined the force. 

August Vollmer also established one of the earliest school boy 
traffic patrols. It was established either in early 1923 or late 
1922. I have lived in other cities that claim to have an earlier 
patrol, but I do not personally know of any established prior to 
that date. In any event, I believe that the school boy traffic 
patrol is a great opportunity for boys to learn real responsibility 
and develop leadership. And, best of all, it teaches their peers 
to obey constituted authority. 

When I Joined the force, August Vollmer was intent on establishing 
a radio communication system. He hoped to have direct communication 
to each officer via radio, and he also hoped later to make it a 

Dean: two way system. When I left the department, November 15, 1923, 
his dream had not been fully realized, but he did have a pilot 
vehicle that was able to receive signals from the station. 

But in the meantime, he was one of the first police chiefs to 
institute the Garaewell red light system. This consisted of red 
lights at major intersections throughout the city and some up on 
the hills that could be seen from most places within the city. 
Police officers on the street would go to the nearest Gamewell 
box and call the desk. If you didn t answer the light within 
three minutes, you had to write a report why you didn t. This 
was an excellent method for getting the officer to the scene 
of the crime or incident expeditiously. They didn t have radios 
and it wasn t until several years later they had crystal. I m 
talking about 1921 to 1923. 

JRH: They signaled you from where? 

Dean: If you ll look down Shattuck there is a light between Shattuck 
and Vine right in the middle of the street, real high. There s 
one at Shattuck and Cedar; Shattuck and University; Shattuck and 
Bancroft; Shattuck and Dwlght, etc. You go down Telegraph, it s 
the same way, almost the same intersections. Some up on the hill 
we could see. Sacramento the same way; San Pablo and Uth Street 
the same way, etc. They were in quadrants so if they wanted an 
officer in that quadrant the light would Just go on in that 
quadrant. If you wanted a particular officer, and not particu 
larly in an emergency, each officer had his number. If it went 
on steady in one section they wanted every officer in that quad 
rant, which was usually one officer. If they all went on every 
body rushed to the Gamewell box. There was a Gamewell box at 
all these places. There are still boxes at many of those places. 
There s one at Dwlght and Warring. 

JRK: What about after you left the department? Did you stay in touch 
with Vollmer? 

Dean: When I left the Department the Chief was on a year s sabbatical 
reorganizing the Los Angeles Police Department. Soon after 
leaving I received a letter from him in which he expressed his 
regret that I had given up police work in favor of the military, 
but stating that when I tired of the military he would have a 
place for me in Berkeley. 

Then, a couple of years later after he had returned to Berkeley 
and I happened to be home on leave I called to pay my respects. 
During this visit he said, "How about resigning from the Amy; 
they want a Chief in a small town (it was Burlingame). I m 
certain if I recommend you the position will be yours. You ve 
had a taste of army life, how about trying police work again?" 
I was quite flattered naturally. 

Then there was a time he wrote and asked me, after he had retired 
and was establishing the School of Criminology, asking if I had 

Dean: any ideas on courses that should be prerequisite for the School 
of Criminology. What courses I thought had helped me with my 
police work more than any other. I gave my view* on that. 

I never came back on leave that I didn t see him, either at the 
Police Department or the University. He alvays had time to see 
me. He amazed me once when he and his wife were coming through 
and he called me from Salt Lake City. He had that personal touch 
with every officer, and if an officer made a mistake he didn t 
crucify him. He felt that if that officer had anything in him he 
gave him support and help. He never stood in an officer s way. 
Many of the officers he would have liked to have stay in the 
department, if they had a chance for a better position, he en 
couraged it and made it possible. For instance, O.W. Wilson was 
first down in southern California, then at Wichita. 

Now I mentioned the traffic police. That was his idea, to show 
you how versatile he was. He was thinking in all ways. He put 
John Larson to work on the single fingerprint system. Some man 
with a Russian name, a convict over in San Quentin, came out with 
one Just before John finished his; Just beat him. In fact, when 
they set up the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Hoover had a 
graduate school and they had two speakers back there that year 
who were both from the Berkeley Police Department. Hoover recog 
nized what August Vollmer had done. He was so far ahead in, for 
instance, M.O.S. He was the daddy of the modus operand!. 

After the war, I was the Senior Officer of the occupation forces 
on Okinawa and Kyushu and they were installing a new police chief 
there at Kokura and I was invited to attend a dinner honoring him. 
They have a national police organization there and the Deputy Chief 
from Tokyo was there for the occasion. I met him, and I had to 
say a few words. I recalled that I had been a police officer 
myself and had the great privilege of serving with the great pioneer 
in criminology, and the internationally-known Vollraer. After the 
dinner, the Deputy Chief came over and said, "Oh General, do you 
know that I ve got reprints of August Vollmer s paper on M.O. and 
it s required reading throughout the national police department. 
I spent six months in your Berkeley Police Department under 
August Vollmer and there are so many things that I learned there 
that I have installed here." It was so genuine and sincere. I 
had met the Deputy Chief before, and he Just thought I was one of 
those damn Army Occupation people, but it was a different relation 
ship when he heard I had too served under August Vollmer. 

Dean: (in response to question l): How you say, in what capacity did 

you work with Vollmer? I was a patrolman the whole time. Usually 
I tried to be on the 12 to 8 a.m. shift because I had a chance 
once in awhile to get enough sleep. I was going to school and 
doing a full eight-hour shift and had to appear in court and so 
on, and this all took a lot of time and I needed my rest. When 
they moved me down to the second shift from four to eight , I 
never had a chance to see my girl. I asked if I couldn t stay on 

Dean: the midnight to eight in the morning and the chap whose place I 
took was very happy about it. Most of my service was from 
midnight to eight. 

What effect did Vollraer have upon your life? August Vollmer has 
had a great effect on my life. His example of enthusiasm for 
his Job, his integrity and his loyalty to the city, the mayor, 
his subordinates, and the citizenry was outstanding. He epito 
mized what I consider the prerequisite qualities for leadership. 
I ve always felt and believed this, and that s why I have his 
photograph hanging up in my study. I owe him a great deal for 
the examples he set and I ve tried to follow; not well, but I ve 

General Dean (in response to question 2): What kind of a man 
was Vollmer? How did he impress you? I think I ve already told 
you and I know he impressed others. The personal characteristics 
that made him an influential man are Just what I ve said: integrity, 
loyalty and enthusiasm. You can t be enthusiastic without knowing 
your Job, that s what makes you enthusiastic. Your enthusiasm 
makes you better with your Job and being better with your Job 
makes you more enthusiastic. They re part and parcel. Hours 
didn t mean anything to him. We didn t have overtime in those days 
and no one resented it. We got one day a week off, but the hours 
we spent we didn t worry about. 

I think we ve answered questions are and two and, as to what was 
Vollmer s professional impact (question U), I told you a little 
bit when I was speaking about this Japanese senior officer. One 
of the major ideas that comes with police work that Vollmer stood 
for was to study the problem and react accordingly. Even in those 
days he had maps up for every accident that occurred, with the 
little pins, and he knew and made us all look at it at the weekly 
meetings. We were having more traffic accidents at the corner of 
Allston and Milvia than any place in town in those days. He 
wanted a study made on how we could improve this. He was a pioneer 
in traffic safety. 

JRH: Did you carry over some of his ideas into your military career? 

Dean: Yes, I tried to. Ee had one which is basic in the military and 
I really learned it from him. Plan to have your major forces, a 
concentration of forces, where you want to hit. Don t dissipate 
your forces; don t try to get every place. 

We were having people coming over on the trains. I mean this is 
hard for you to realize, but people didn t all travel by auto then. 
There were so few automobiles that between certain hours 
between 1 and 3 a.m. if you parked out in front of your house 
all night without using the garage, you got a ticket. You weren t 

Dean: permitted to park all night on the street. Cars were still 
quite uncommon in the 20 s. 

Vollmer had a chart where all the daylight burglaries were. We 
had a great many daylight burglaries then because the thief would 
come over from San Francisco and ride the train and the street 
cars. Many of the very well-to-do people who worked in San 
Francisco, and now drive cars and now live further out in the 
country, used to take the streetcars and get off at Benevenue and 
Hillegass. There are some beautiful homes in that area, but a 
lot of them are housing communes now. That s where the junior 
executives and then the big executives lived. Also thieves would 
come up Claremont Avenue and get off and hit all those homes up 
in the Claremont District. They would Just hit those areas, and 
the stuff would be pawned in San Francisco. We knew they were 
coming from there and they were taking those trains, getting off, 
walking down and knocking over a couple of houses and taking the 
other train home. He pulled people on my shift, for instance, and 
the burglaries were happening between one and four so we had to 
ride our cars. We had unmarked cars and most of us had Fords and 
they were suspect in themselves , but that s the way we caught a 
number of these burglars. Vollmer had planned to have a mobile 
force that he could use where he needed it; he planned ahead. 

Vollmer developed the idea of drug addiction being an illness. He 
said "Let s get them treated." This shows his foresight. 

JRH: We heard he was very active in fighting the Ku JCLux KLan while 
they were big and that might have been around your time. 

Dean: I know that they were attempting to organize the KKK locally and 

on one occasion the embryo KKK was scheduled for a meeting. We all 
had to stand by. He didn t send me when I was off duty, but I 
was supposed to get up there in civilian clothes and assist if 
anything came up because they were going to have a meeting on 
Cragmont at Cragmont Rock. I know he was opposed to any secret 
organization like that that wanted to take the law into its own 
hands. He was prepared for it and I m certain he discouraged them. 

JRH: Do you know anything about Earl Warren? Warren apparently was 

District Attorney about the time you were here. Did he work with 

Dean: Yes. He worked very closely with Vollmer and Earl Warren handled 

several cases that I had preferred charges on. He was an Assistant 
District Attorney vhile I was on the force. I thought he had for 
gotten me, because I didn t know him well but he s quite an indi 
vidual in this respect, he doesn t forget people. After World War 
II, I hadn t heard from him and he d been Governor and I wasn t 
living here. That was in 19^*7 and I was suddenly sent from 
Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas to Korea as Military Governor when General 
Lerch died suddenly. I d been ordered to replace him and damn if 
I didn t get a letter from Governor Warren almost immediately, 

Dean: congratulating me and saying he remembered our association when 
I was on the force and he was Assistant District Attorney. 
Frankly, I had ,1ust forgotten all about that, but since then I ve 
seen him and he s always been very pleasant. I do know that he 
and August Vollmer had mutual regard and respect for one another. 

JRH: Do you remember anything they worked on together in particular? 

Dean: No. When I had a case the District Attorney, Earl Warren, showed 
he had a high respect for the Department by the way he worked 
with the Berkeley Police Department. 

JRK: Do you remember any stories he told about starting out the police 
or anything like that? 

Dean: If I tell you I wouldn t know whether they were stories I d read 
or heard about. Re wasn t one with a big ego telling about what 
he did. He was telling what we were going to do. I ve read 
Parker s book and I ve heard about him from men like old 
Frank Waterbury and George Kohler, the father of the ex-postmaster 
here who Just died recently. 

JRH: Here s another event I see was around your time and I m interested 
in asking about it. Apparently there was a scandal in 1925 about 
bail bonds. Do you remember? 

Dean: No. I left in 1923. I hadn t heard anything about that. 

You know, the Chief was very quick to act in an emergency of any 
kind. I remember somebody tried to escape one time and ran into 
a coal yard across the street and Vollmer went in after him. Ke 
was faster than the old Desk Sergeant so after he went in after 
the fellow, a hunk of coal hit him in the head and cut his head but 
he went right in and grabbed the escapee and he wasn t a younp; man 
then. I didn t see it, but I saw the cut on his head. I ll tell 
you somebody I think could give you a lot of dope about Vollmer as 
a man. That would be Rose Olavinovich. She was the daughter of 
the Marshal of the City of Albany, but she was also the police 
reporter for the Oakland Tribune assigned to the Berkeley Police 
Department. She has a very retentive memory and I know we felt 
that she was a member of the Department. That was her beat. I m 
certain she knows a lot of interesting incidents. 

JRH: I don t know if you want to put this on tape, but you mentioned 
that Vollmer wrote to you during the time you were a prisoner of 

Dean: I received two nice letters. I have a secretary that comes on 

Mondays and she might be able to find the letters. They were Just 
pleasant letters telling me what O.W. Wilson was doing and what 
Ralph Proctor was doing. 

JRH: Was it pretty quiet here at night when you were on the force? 
Dean: It was. We thought we had problems but we didn t. 

JBH: You mentioned that Vollmer was one of the people trying to cure 
people with druf: problems. What kind of drug problems did they 
have then? 

Dean: Using cocaine and heroin. It wasn t marijuana. I never heard 
of marijuana until I went into the service and I was stationed 
in Panama in 1926 to 1929. We had a number of men smoking 
marijuana. Evidently it was grown very plentifully in the tropic 
areas so for almost nothing they d try it and then we d have a 
goofy man sometimes. That was in the service and the first I d 
seen it. 

JRH: I guess the fraternities were the big thing on patrols in those 

Dean: Nothing really vicious happened. Only the freshmen or new members 
and candidates for initiation had to do certain things and they d 
tell them to go steal a tombstone or something like that. They d 
usually have to go to San Francisco because they had to brine: back 
an ancient one. Or an intoxicated fraternity boy would stagger 
across campus at night on his way home and get rolled. They sent 
me out to stagger along on campus at night a few times but I never 
was rolled. Maybe I wasn t convincing enough. 


INDEX ~ William Dean 

Berkeley, City of 

Police Department, 1-3, 8 

population, 2 

school traffic patrols , 3 
Brereton, George, 3 

California, State of 

Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, 3 
Claremont District burglaries, 7 
commuting burglars, 6-7 

drug problems, 9 
Elk s Club, 2 

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 5 

fingerprint system, 5 

Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, 7 

Gamevell signal system, U 
Glavinovich, Rose, 8 
Gordon, Walter, 3 

Hetch Hetchy San Francisco Water Project, 1 
Hoar, Henry, 3 
Hoover, J. Edgar, 5 

Kohler, George, 8 
Kokura, 5 
Korea, 7 
Ku Klux KLan, 7 
Kyushu, 5 

Larson, John, 3, 5 

Lerch, General Archer, 7 

Los Angeles Police Department, k 

MacArthur, Douglas, 1 
Marshall, George, 1 
modus operand! (M.O.), 5 

Okinawa, 5 


police procedures, passim 
Parker, Alfred E. , 8 

Crime Fighter: August Vollner, 8 
pri soner-of-var letters, 8 
Proctor, Ralph, 8 

San Francisco, 7 
San Pablo Avenue, 2 
San Quentin, 5 
Shattuck Avenue, U 

Taylor, Clarence, 1 
Telegraph Avenue , U 
Thayer, Kenneth, 1 

University of California at Berkeley 
fraternities, 9 
School of Criminology, U-5 

Warren, Earl, 7-8 
Waterbury, Frank, 8 
Wilson, Orlando W. , 3, 5, 8 

University of California Bancroft Library/Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 

August Vollaer Historical Project 

Rose Glavinovich 


An interview conducted by 
Jane Howard Robinson 

1972 by The Regents of The University of California 

April 21, 1992 

Rose Glavinovich 

Rose Glavinovich, a reporter 
who covered Berkeley for the Oak 
land Tribune for 42 years, died Sat 
urday night at Alta Bates Hospital 
In Berkeley at the age of 101. 

Services are pending. 

Ms. Glavinovich was born in 
San Francisco and moved to the 
East Bay after the 1906 earthquake 
and fire destroyed the family 

Her first newspaper job was as 
a society reporter with the old 
Berkeley Gazette. She moved to 
the Tribune s Berkeley bureau in 
1919, where she covered police 
news, the courts, the university 
campus and general city affairs 
until her retirement in 1981. 

Ms. Glavinovich was known to 
instill fear in young reporters en 
trusted to her care. Those who 
passed muster called themselves 
"Rose s Boys." 

There are no immediate survi 


Rose Glavinovich was interviewed by Jane Howard as part of a series on 
the personal and professional life of August Vollmer. Since 
Miss Glavinovich served as a press reporter for the Oakland Tribune 
stationed at the Berkeley Police Department for over 30 years, she brings 
the point of view of a Journalist to the interview. 

Interviewer : 

Time and Setting of 
the Interview: 

Narrative Account 
of Rose Glavinovich 
and the Progress of 
the Interview: 

Jane Howard 

The interview was conducted on July 15, 1971, in 
Miss Glavinovich s comfortable Berkeley Hills home. 
The interview began at around 10 a.m. and concluded 
around noon. Editing of the transcribed tapes was 
done by Jane Howard. Minimal changes were made, in 
spelling and punctuation; paranthetical comments were 
added to provide clarity. Miss Glavinovich reviewed 
the transcript and made only minor revisions. 

Rose Glavinovich, daughter of an Albany, California, 
Chief of Police, worked as an Oakland Tribune reporter 
for over 30 years. She was stationed, during most of 
her career, in the Berkeley Police Department. She 
rose over the years to be Dean of the Berkeley Press 
Corps. On her retirement she was made an honorary 
policewoman. Miss Glavinovich became a close friend 
of Mr. Vollmer 1 s and provided the Berkeley Police 
Department with very extensive news coverage over the 
years . 

The tape begins with an account of two of Mr. Vollmer 1 s 
contributions to law enforcement : introduction of 
scientific principles and of the "golden rule" principle. 

Rose Glavinovich then talks about her relation to the 
police department and how she became a reporter at 
the Berkeley Police Department and of the unusually 
open and close working relationship between bay area 
press and the Vollmer police department. 

She recalls the day of Vollmer s death and the diffi 
culty she had managing to fill her responsibilities as 
a reporter when the suicide was of a man she had 
worked with so closely. 


Rose Glavinovlch (contd. ) 

The dialogue turns to the encouragement Vollmer gave 
to many employees, friends and city officials. 
Miss Glavinovich closes with a fev comments on 
Vollmer s wives. 

Jane Howard 

RG: Vollmer was a young letter carrier in Berkeley when he was 
persuaded to run for town Marshal on a reform ticket. 

JRH: Was that before the Progressive Party or what kind of a reform 
ticket, Republican reform ticket or Just non-partisan? 

RG: Non-partisan. Not a formal party Just people who wanted a 
change. I m sure it was Just before the San Francisco fire. 
I only moved to this side of the Bay after the fire in San 
Francisco a couple of years after we lost our home. So I 
am not too conversant with that, but he became interested and 
told me once that he went to bed election night and said we ve 
won because they made a very intensive campaign throughout the 
city and contacted people, so he practically counted votes. 

After he took over this very small police department, he became 
interested in police techniques. He started what was then 
called "The Golden Rule Police Department, 1 where everybody 
had good manners for everybody else. You treated people as 
humans and you were not the traditional policemen. And, he 
started then to institute a whole series of reforms which were 
adopted throughout the country and the world. Vollmer-t rained 
policemen went out into the world to spread the "new gospel 1 
of enlightened criminology. 

For instance, so that more ground could be covered than on foot 
he put his men on bicycles first, then in the old Model T Fords. 
It was fascinating. There were some very big men in the depart 
ment and they had to get in the old Model T sitting behind the 
wheels all scrunched up. Eventually complete motorization 
evolved into the men operating their own cars with upkeep paid 
by the city. For years they owned their own cars. He did many 
things to bring the police department closer to the people. 

He fought through the years for better working conditions and 
salaries all these things for his men. Sometimes there were 
near serious consequences , as I recall one instance under the 
first City Manager. The men were badly underpaid and I remem 
ber being in a little plot with Vollmer which ve never admitted 

RG: to the City Manager. Some of the men at that time were going 
to the University and working night shifts to get degrees. 
These were the first college-educated policemen to bring 
nation-wide publicity to Berkeley and the pioneers in setting 
high standards for lav enforcement . There came a time when 
quite a few of them were graduating and were going off to 
various pursuits. To focus attention on the underpaid condition 
of the department, we concocted a story of these men leaving 
because of this and the City Manager was incensed. He ended 
up calling Vollmer and me up to his office and said to Vollmer, 
"Did you have any part of this?" We had agreed ahead of time 
that he had no part of it, knew nothing about it, I was the 
guilty party because I wasn t working for the city. I said no 
he did not. He said, "If you had I would have fired you." The 
men got a raise 1 

JRH: Do you think the City Manager suspected Vollmer? 

RG: He suspected, sure. He was an intelligent man. He knew that 
Vollmer was a very astute person too, but I polled the City 
Council and we had the votes in the bag and we got the raise. 
Which was very necessary. He fought for his men constantly. 
He never let them down at any time. 

JRH: Did you have to go through that again later on? 

RG: Later on the Council was aware of the situation and city employees 
were becoming more organized. Raises were coming along more 
automatically. But there was still a struggle to get adequate 
pay and in recent years it was easier, or was until the so-called 
"radicals" were elected. That first "showdown" was under the 
first City Manager, John F. Edy who was really a very fine man. 
Frankly, he was resentful somewhat and I m sure I m not the only 
one who says this, that Vollmer was a bigger man in the community 
than he was and that was natural. 

When I went down to the Berkeley Police Department during the 
first world war (if you want some of the human side of Vollmer), 
I was the first woman ever to cover a police station in this 
area. The Oakland Tribune had a shortage of men at that time, 
so I was Just a war casualty. I had known him before but not 
too well. So when I went down, I was the only woman around 
that place, not even a policewoman. The men of course didn t 
know exactly how to take it. The Police Department was in the 
basement of the City Hall. The Squad Room and Press Room were 
one so we were very close and intimate. Vollmer was so very 
helpful in many ways and it wasn t long before I was accepted 
without any qualms. The newspaper men who were down there cover 
ing were good friends of mine and they helped me out too, so it 

RG: was very good. Then, in those days too, they had no policewoman 
and I would "double" once in awhile when they needed a woman to 
be with an officer if a woman was being searched. They d say, 
"Come and help out" and of course I would, so that it worked 
both ways. 

Vollmer became interested in new and modern police techniques . 
He attracted attention from all over. It was he who brought 
in Dr. John Larson with his first lie detector. It was a very 
clumsy device and it looked like an infernal machine. John was 
the first Ph.D. policeman in the country. He did many experi 
ments and was the one who started Leonard Keeler on his way. 
Keeler in Chicago became an eminent lie detector authority (he s 
dead now). 

JRH: Vollmer must have had a lot of original ideas, but you and the 
other press people must have been a big factor in his getting 
them known. 

RG: Of course, he was news I 

JRfl: Did he tell you what he would like to see printed or how did it 
work out? 

RG: lie Just made the news. He started innovations and they were news, 
It Just naturally worked out as news. He was very conscious of 
the value of publicity, not as personal publicity, but for the 
ideas and ideals he had in police work. He was responsible for 
raising the standards throughout the country. Men from his 
department were constantly being loaned for reorganization of 
other police departments some to take permanent (more or 
less) positions and others going into teaching at colleges and 
universities. People came from all over the world. 

And then of course he encouraged the scientific aspect of police 
investigation through such men as E.O. Heinrich, who became an 
outstanding criminologist , Heinrich was called in with his 
microscopes and apparatus on various murders. Remember we had 
a Tule Marsh murder in El Cerrito. Heinrich came down and he 
literally had a rag and a bone and a hank of hair but he gave a 
description of the woman who was murdered. It tallied and they 
fianlly identified her. Then he had a Dr. Kirk, (the crimino 
logist) who was with the University for years, and who died not 
too long ago, was another one he used and encouraged. He was a 
very humane and outgoing person. He was the kind of person who 
was interested in everybody. When you talked to him you were 
the only person in the world in whom he was interested. 

RG: He had a very close relationship with the press, but he demanded 
honesty and cooperation fair play. In other words, with a 
wide-open Police Department the press had access to all records. 

JRH: That would be unbelievably rare today. Was it unusual then? 

RG 1 : It was unusual. It is not so today because some reporters be 
trayed confidence and records are now closed at Berkeley. But 
in the years I worked there I could go to the file myself and 
take out any report I wanted without asking anybody about it. 
Also the other press people. There were the San Francisco papers: 
the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner, the Daily 
News . the Berkeley Daily Gazette, the Oakland Post Inquirer, 
some of which are now extinct. 

It was "open sesame" which was just fine except if something went 
wrong. I remember one time an Examiner man, an old friend of 
Vollaer s and a good friend of mine, and a couple of the other 
boys during Prohibition, swiped some evidence of liquor. Vollmer 
barred them from the police station, the farthest they could get 
for their period of punishment was the outer counter and they 
had to rely on friends inside to help them out. I don t remember 
whether they took it or substituted it or what , but nevertheless , 
the evidence was gone. If Vollmer found someone who betrayed a 
confidence or betrayed a trust, he didn t hesitate to do some 
thing about it. This worked beautifully. There wasn t any 
police department in this area for which newspaper people had 
more respect and as you said we don t get these things elsewhere. 
This is unusual. 

He always had time; he was a good friend and when he was a good 
friend you were a good friend. He always tried to think of 
things to help you. Some of the best exclusive stories I ve ever 
had came from Vollmer. 

JRH: He wouldn t give them to the other people, but you were the first 

RG: Once in awhile he might, but if you were good he d slip them 
to you. They were off-department, extra-curricular things, if 
you know what I mean. I remember a beautiful love nest with 
a University professor s niece that he tipped me off to. It 
was stupendous and it had no connection with the Berkeley Depart 
ment at all, it was Just something he knew about. I sat on 
that story over a weekend. The "love birds" went for it, 
pictures and everything, they were proud of themselves. At that 
time it was unusual; today it wouldn t mean anything. 

RG: He went to other countries: Germany, China, all over. I think 
he vent to Germany, but I might be a little vague on that. 

(After off the tape discussion of whether to discuss the suicide:) 
He had been ill for some time. His sight was bad and with com 
plications he was in intense pain for a long time, many months. 
He had said on occasion that if it got too bad, he would do this 
thing that he did. They didn t have a complete biography of him 
at the Police Station but they had a lot of material which they 
gave to me and asked if I would get a biography together in the 
event something happened, not dreaming what did happen would 
happen. I got this together and they made copies of it so they 
had it available. I remember sending this to my office some 
weeks before, which was a lifesaver at the time of his death. 
The morning that he committed suicide I was sitting in my office. 
The early edition was off and I was at the office doing some 
work when I heard a radio call with an address on Euclid Avenue, 
a suicide by gunshot. I recognized the address. The men on the 
Desk didn t. I called down and asked for the Captain of Detec 
tives, who was Walter Johnson at that time, and I said, "Do you 
know what address this is with the gunshot wound?" He said no 
and I said, "It s Vollaer s." 

I dashed up there with a chap who was working with me and arrived 
Just as they were taking him away. I had been at the house a 
number of times and I knew the housekeeper. She let me in the 
house and it was some comfort to her because she was shaking and 
threw her arms around me. It was the hardest story I ever covered. 
I was on a first edition deadline and here was one of my best 
friends who had done this , but I had to get on the telephone and 
I did. They fortunately had this biography and I know the chap 
who was with me said that I turned white and he thought I was 
going to faint. Very soon other newspaper men came up and for 
some time afterwards they were downstair* in his study. Much 
to their chagrin I was upstairs. I ll never forget the anguish 
of going through that. 

JRH: You had to call and give the whole story right away? 
RG: Yes. To meet a deadline. But what could you do? 

Vollmer was a very good friend and he would give me excellent 
advice. I remember when I was younger and ambitious, I wanted 
to get away and do bigger and better things . I thought , "Oh 
heck, covering this police beat was fun and I enjoyed it and 
the Tribune was marvelous to work for, but I thought I should 
like to go abroad or do something, reach out. I remember him 
saying this to me, and I ve never forgotten his answer. He 
said, "Remember, wherever you go, you take yourself with you 
and if you are not happy here you won t be happy there." 

RG: I wasn t particularly unhappy but I thought about it and when I 
had offers from other papers , I stayed with the Tribune where I 
was really happy. Anytime I had problems and wanted to talk 
things over, there was a man ready to listen and straighten you 

JRH: That s interesting. He must have done that for an awful lot of 
people . 

RG: He was interested in so many people. People came from all over. 
He had many men and women with personal problems come to him. 
Not on a police basis, but they could have been police aspects. 
I ll never forget one father who had a son he couldn t do anything 
with. Vollmer brought him down, kept him in the Police Station for 
awhile, locked him up to discipline him and it straightened him 
out. The guy is now very respectable and I won t mention his 
name, but you d know it if I mentioned it. Vollmer did so many 
things for so many people ; family friends , personal friends , 
city officials. He was very close to everybody. 

(Pause here. Tape turned off.) I started in as a novice on 
the Berkeley Daily Gazette. Didn t know anything about newspaper 
work at all. They called me up and said come to work. I had 
never asked for a newspaper Job in my life. 

JRH: How did they think to ask you? 

RG: I knew the City Editor on the Gazette slightly and he said they 
needed a society editor and to come on down. I said, "Oh, my 
God, I ve never done it." So I went. I was young and green. 
During the war I d done other things besides society and I had 
done some interesting news stories on the Gazette. Apparently 
the men on the beat thought I d developed into a pretty good 
newspaper woman, so when the Tribune took its Berkeley corres 
pondent into the Oakland office to become Assistant City Editor, 
they asked me to take his Job. At that time, it covered the 
entire city, the University. You had no automobile so you went 
around on foot, so subsequently thereafter, I got my first car. 
It was one of those struggles where you used the streetcars and 
it was Just terrific and you wonder now how you did it. 

I had met Vollmer when I had been working for the Gazette and I 
knew him and his first wife, Itfdia Sturtevant slightly and soci 
ally. Then when I went to the Police Station I said, "Here I am" 
and he said, "Fine." He took me under his wing and that was it. 

JRH: Not many people knew his first wife. Did you have much contact 
with her? 

RG: She was a singer and had a studio. She taught voice on Shattuck 
Avenue upstairs where Penney s is now. She was a rather buxom, 
attractive, dark-haired woman. Then I knew his second wife, 
Millicent called "Pat." They married in Los Angeles. 

Did anybody tell you about the Los Angeles so-called scandal? 
JRH: No. 

RG: I m a little vague on this, but when he went down to Los Angeles 
to reorganize the police department, some woman brought charges 
against him but I can t remember what they were. Why don t you 
go down to the Oakland Tribune office files on Vollmer? I ll 
give you a letter. They have very complete files. This woman s 
charges would probably be in there. 

JRH: That would be a good idea, because I d never heard of this and 

there s probably a lot of things there that no one s talked about, 

RG: I can t remember what it was, but it was something of an intimate 
nature. Right after that he married Pat to spike the guns. It 
was a nuisance tactic in retaliation for his police investigation 
down there. 

JRH: You mentioned how you got to know him. 

RG: I knew of him before I met him. He was a charming person, good 
looking, outgoing, fun loving, we had more fun. 

(Phone rang. After returning, Miss Glavinovich said she felt 
she had really said all she had to say.) 


INDEX ~ Rose Glavinovich 

Berkeley, City of 

City Manager, 1-2 
City Hall, 2 

criminology, "enlightened", 1 

Edy, John F. , 2 

"Golden Rule Police Department", 1 

Heinrich, E.O. , 3 

Johnson, Walter, 5 

Keeler, Leonard, 3 
Kirk, Dr. Paul, 3 

Larson, John, 3 

Los Angeles Police Department, 7 

non-partisan politics, 1 


Berkeley Daily Gazette. U, 6 

Daily Nevs , U 

Oakland Post Inquirer, U 

Oakland Tribune, 2, 6 

San Francisco Chronicle, U 

San Francisco Examiner, U 

police procedures, 1-U 

San Francisco fire, 1 
Sturtevant , Lydia, 6-7 

Tule Marsh murder case, 3 
Vollmer, Millicent "Pat", 7 

..) J 

Gene B. Woods 

A.L. Coffey 

George Brereton 

University of California Bancroft Library/Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 

August Vollner Historical Project 

Gene Woods 

An interview conducted by 
Jane Howard Robinson 

1972 by The Regents of The University of California 


Gene Woods was Interviewed by Jane Howard as part- of the August Vollmer 
series. Mr. Woods, a patrolman under August Vollmer vho retired due to 
injuries sustained in the line of duty, brought the point of view of a 
patrolman to the series. 


Jane Howard 

Time and Setting A single interview was held on July 23, 1971, at the 
of the Interview: interviewer s Oakland apartment. A friend of Mr. Woods 
sat in on the interview without commenting. The inter 
view began at 1 p.m. and ended at 2 p.m. 

Editing: Editing was done by Jane Howard. Punctuation and gram 
matical errors were corrected. Mr. Woods also edited 
the interview, making only minor grammatical changes. He 
corrected the spelling of several names. 

Narrative Account 

of Mr. Woods and Gene Woods was born in Berkeley about 1902. He became 
the Progress of interested in police work during high school and served 
the Interview: as a volunteer for the Berkeley Police Department during 
his last years in high school. 

Mr. Woods went to work as August Vollmer s secretary upon 
graduation and served in several positions within the 
Berkeley Police Department until he was forced to retire 
in 1931 due to police service related disabilities. 

He gradually regained his health, however, and returned 
to work to serve as police chief in several small cities. 
He is now retired and lives in Walnut Creek. 

Mr. Woods opens the interview with the recollection that 
he came to work for the Berkeley Police Department right 
after World War I; he took the Job since it was the first 
one to come up and he needed work. 

Mr. Woods had known Mr. Vollmer as a boy; he remembers 
getting chocolates at Vollmer s office. 

Mr. Woods first police Job was as a secretary to Vollmer; 
he subsequently learned many phases of police work. 

Mr. Woods recounts an incident in which he felt the 
Acting Chief of Police, John Greening, attempted to frame 
him and several other policemen. He discusses his fight 
for vindication and reinstatement. 


Gene Woods (contd. ) 

The discussion turns to Mr. Woods fscling that Vollmer s 
way of looking people over when they cane to see him 
reflected some inner weakness of Vollmer s. Mr. Woods 
tried over the years to get Vollmer to explain this 
mannerism, but never succeeded. 

Woods then tells of his retirement from the force due 
to injuries sustained on the Job, followed by gradual 
recovery of physical strength. He recalls he was then 
helped to return to work by Gene Biccailuz, then a 
Captain in the Los Angeles Police Department , and sub 
sequently by Vollmer. 

Gene Woods states that he thinks everyone who ever worked 
with Vollmer admired him. He recalled, however, an 
incident when Vollmer did not take action against a 
police officer who beat him and another young school boy. 

Mr. Woods took J. Edgar Hoover around California in 1926 
to show him some California innovations in law enforce 

Mr. Woods discusses Vollmer s "crab meeting" training 
sessions and his emphasis on police training. The 
interview closes with a story illustrating why he 
believes, from personal experience, that capital punish 
ment is necessary. 

Woods: My name is Gene Woods, there s a "B" in the middle of it. 
With relation to August Vollmer and dating on back to my 
first knowledge of him, I was probably around six or seven 
years of age. At that time he was a letter carrier in the 
Post Office Department. 

JRH: You grew up, then, in Berkeley. 

Woods: I was born in Berkeley. Vollmer became the first Marshal of 
the City of Berkeley. When the populace grew sufficiently, 
he became the first Chief and remained in that capacity. My 
dad had been in police work and he and August Vollmer were 
very good friends. It had no basis or bearing upon my be 
coming a member of the Department. In fact, my dad was 
opposed to my becoming a member. I think that he was fearful 
that I wouldn t be able to pass the examination. I wasn t 
raised by my dad. 

JRH: We have Chief Holstrom working with us; ne put together some 
of the names for us and he mentioned that your father did a 
survey in Nanking. 

Woods: Yes, he did go out there. Of course, he s been dead since 
19U5. So, well with Vollmer, I had known him as a little 
boy and then as I grew up, I got to know him. I was in the 
service in World War I. When I came out of the service, I 
was casting about to find a Job. It wasn t like it is today, 
they weren t finding Jobs for veterans. Anyway, I went to 
work for a railroad, and I got cut out at the board a few 
times and that was unbearable. That s when I came back down 
to Berkeley. I took the examination in Berkeley, Oakland, 
San Francisco and Alameda. They didn t have an examination 
in Alameda, but I filed anyway, looking for a Job. I had 
talked to my dad. August Vollmer was away at that time, 
when I took the examination. He was back in Los Angeles. 
I took this examination and then I was out to get the first 
Job that came up. I was hungry. That was the first one 
that came about and I took it. 

JRH: Do you remember whether or not you were still as impressed 
with him as when you vere a child? 

Woods: Oh yes, as a child, he was a fabulous man. lie was then, of 
course, a young man. Of course, I vas still somewhat of a 
kid. August Vollmer always liked all the kids in the neigh 
borhood. He never got married until he was quite along in 
years. When he got married the first time, he married a 
woman who was a professional woman, a pianist and a singer. 
It didn t last very long and then he was single for a long 

First, before he was ever married, he treated us kids. We d 
all flock around the old Police Department upstairs at Shat- 
tuck and Allston Way, right across from wnat is now the 
Shattuck Hotel. We d all flock over there and he always 
treated us very nice. He d generally always have in his 
desk some chocolates or something, maybe there d be eight or 
ten of us kids. He was trying to point out things for us. 
Across the street on Shattuck Avenue there was a YMCA and 
that s where we boys should go, if we could get our parents 
to put up the money for us to attend. 

That was part of what he undertook to do. To handle the kids 
and the first thing you know, we became very fond and had a 
love for him as we would a parent. That s mostly kids that 
knew him from childhood. It didn t seen like there were many 
in the Department in these past years, that had ever known 
him in that capacity. As a young man, as he was then, we 
had all admired him so much. 

Then, I think the first communications I got from him was 
after I passed the examination. He sent me a letter when 
he learned of it to welcome me into the fold; and ne hoped 
that I would carry on and do something in police work. He 
hoped this for all of us who had passed the examination. 
He had pointed out to me that a great many which he tried 
to encourage were these fellows going to college, to the 
University of California. He hoped that I would finish my 
education and go to college and that I would be able to do 
such, as he pointed out in his communication to me. It 
was a very nice letter, where that one went, I don t know. 
It was a nice one, because it was something of encourage 
ment; to try to get you to do. 

Woods: Well then, he returned and one of the things that he placed 
in vogue that had not been before that time, requiring 
everyone of us, we had to learn to punch a typewriter, 
touch system. I was already capable of that. I could write 
shorthand, so that was very good. So then, I was working 
in the Identification Bureau or in the Record Bureau when 
I first went in. Then after he returned (I d been in the 
street in the meantime and back in) he called me in the 
office, and said, "Gene, you can write shorthand, I under 
stand." I said, "Oh, Just a smattering knowledge." I 
didn t want him to think I knew too much. 

I had learned enough about August Vollmer, and you might have 
been told by some, that August Vollmer, I think had three 
years of schooling. He passed the Bar examination without 
ever going to school. He gained all that by himself, he was 
a self-educated man. He was a master of language and me, 
taking his dictation. I ll tell you, it was rough I The 
man, he knew in the vernacular of the people that he dealt 
with, to use the language that they would throughly under 
stand. That was his method, of trying to point out to you 
never talk over the heads of people you re dealing with. 
I ll tell you a little example pertaining to that. 

JRH: Yeah, that ll be good. 

Woods: I went in to work for him. I didn t want to stay in there 
very long and I told him so. I got very well acquainted 
with him. I asked him no less than ten times, a question 
that he very capably avoided answering even up to five or 
six days before he committed suicide. I was visiting with 
him Just at that time. I visited with him at least once a 

After I came out of World War II, whenever the opportunity 
presented itself, I wouldn t even bother calling the Chief, 
I d Just take a run up there on Euclid Avenue and stop in 
and visit him. He always made me very walcome. I m going 
around in circles trying to tell you some of the things 
that happened. 

Well, he went to work, to tell me, he said, "Gene, I want 
you to learn every phase of police work." Every man has to 
qualify in identification and fingerprints, every man has to 
be able to classify, every man has to have a knowledge of 
blood, of powder, of everything. How to take a Plaster of 

Woods: Paris casts of the various things. We re going to elevate 
this, so when you re sent out to pick up any latent finger 
prints, you re going to know how to use the camera. Everyone 
had to learn photography, something, so that you d have a 
smattering knowledge. Then you will not destroy any latent 
prints of any evidence that may have been left at the scene 
where a crime had been committed. These were the things 
that he was propounding into our skulls to make us understand 
what we had to do. He could do it in such a manner that you 
appreciated it. 

Then one of his successors, a man that, and I very openly say 
that I disliked very much, a man by the name of Jack Greening. 
John A. Greening. He was Chief of Police. He was Acting-Chief, 
at one stage. He and my dad met this way, they hated one 
another, so I was the recipient of a lot of mistreatment from 
Jack Greening. He did everything he could to injure me. 

At any rate, I went on through with the guidance of August 
Vollmer. He was away and then he returned. He went back 
to Chicago. When he returned, I was ailing. In 1931, August 
Vollmer said, "Well, Gene, within six month s time or there 
abouts I intend to take my pension. In all probability Jack 
Greening will become Chief. I want you to take your pension 
before I leave. I don t want anything to happen to you." I 
said, "How you can avoid that is to see to it that that man 
does not become Chief. He s not eligible for it." In my 
estimation he was a disgrace to the Police Department. The 
manner in which he treated some of the people. He would 
place men out to try and get something on the different ones 
and he framed five of us in the Department. One of them 
became Chief of the State Bureau of Identification in Sacra 
mento. A year ago he retired from up there and that was 
George Brereton. 

JRH: I wrote him a letter. I haven t heard from him yet, though. 

Woods: "Well, George Brereton, he might not want to tell you about 
this. Jack Greening had one of these undercover agents, he 
then had him appointed as a member of the Police Department 
without examination. He had this man go to work and plant 
we worked long, long hours to raid the places throughout 
West Berkeley and all places that were going against the law 
(bootlegging and other things in the area). We worked, in 
my case I d gone to work at 8:00 in the morning and was still 
working at U:00 the next morning. We went out on these raids. 

Woods: We never got any time off or anything for that. As I say, 
at this time Vollmer was gone, when these things were 

So then he had this man go out and plant vine in our cars. 
I d gone home at U:30 that morning, dead tired and vent to 
bed. Around 7:30 or 8:00 that morning, I got a call on the 
phone. "This is the Chief." I said, "Yes, Chief." I didn t 
know vhat time it vas. He said, "Get rignt on up here and 
bring that booze that you got." I said, "I haven t got any 
booze, vhat re you talking about?" He said, "You have so, ve 
already found it, you ve got it in your car. You bring it 
right on up here." I very foolishly, I vas very dumb in 
that respect, I never believed that I could have destroyed 
that vine and he d have had no evidence on me. So, neverthe 
less I vent on up there and there vere five of us that vere 
involved. Then, he vent right to the City Manager and ve 
vere summarily dismissed from the Department. 

I wouldn t take it sitting down. I vas a fighter for vhat 
vas right. So I got another member of the Department also 
charged, G rover Mull, a full-blooded Indian, I was telling 
you about him. Well, I talked vith Grover, he lived a fev 
blocks from me, and ve vere working almost on starvation, 
ve didn t have an extra dime to get along on. I wouldn t 
stop at that , I vas going back and Jack Greening vas not the 
Chief. He vasn t even Acting-Chief. Clarence Lee, he s 
still living, he s the oldest man... 

JRH: Clarence Lee? 

Woods: That s right! he vas Chief at that time. I still voiced 
myself very clearly, regardless, vhere it goes. He acted 
like a man vith a backbone of vet spaghetti. He vas afraid 
to stand up in behalf of a man against anything. A nice 
person, a very good man in his field as far as the Identifi 
cation Bureau. A very vonderful man. 

So, Clarence vas the Chief, so vhen ve vent up, ve couldn t 
get a hearing. Finally, I vent up there and said, "My God," 
plain language, "We re going to follov this thing through." 
Not one of these fellows vould go vith me. I vent up to the 
police station and walked right into the Chief s office. 
Clarence Lee was there and I took him by the arm, I said, 
"You re going right up that spiral stairvay, you re going 

Woods: with me up there to see John N. Edy, the City Manager. 

We re going to have an understanding and have this thing 
out." "I got this to do and that to do." I said, "To 
hell with that, you re going with me now." I took him by 
the arm and we marched up there. There was a little narrow 
stairway going up. We got up there and into the City Mana 
ger s outer office. He looked out and he knew me. He said, 
"What are you doing here. Gene?" I said, "The Chief and I 
want to have a little conversation with you." He said, "Oh, 
I m very busy." I said, "I can t help that, this is a very 
important thing to me and I ve got to see you now. The 
Chief s got some very important things to do too." 

Okay, we went in and I said, "Let me start this off by tell 
ing you what a rotten deal five of us ha>re been given and 
all the publicity, you ve gone along witn to fire all of us 
without a hearing. It s a dirty lousy thing for you to do 
as City Manager. Mr. John N. Edy, I m going to tell you the 
truth of what happened, who placed this wine in our cars. 
I ve learned since who the man is. He s a red-head. I 
can t think of the man s name. The man was a red-head and 
he was John Greening s undercover Agent and he planted this 
wine in the different cars. 

"Then, we have been given this kind of treatment. I ve had 
to dodge the newspapers so they can t take pictures of my 
self and some of the rest of us. I m determined that we have 
a hearing and have an opportunity to defend ourselves. What 
chance have we got, if we go out of here with the kind of 
publicity you re responsible for giving us? I think it s a 
dirty stinking thing for you to be a part of. For this Chief 
here, Clarence Lee, this Acting-Chief to go along with, let 
a man pull the wool over his eyes, I don t like it a bit. 
I m going to be given a fair chance." 

So he said, "Okay, I m going to get my secretary to take 
everything down." So I had to go through this again and 
tell the whole story again. He said to me, "You wait 
downstairs in the office." This was five days after this 
took place, trying to get to see him. So the rest of them 
were about ready to move out and leave town. At any rate, 
we managed to get a hearing. Finally, he came up with the 
idea that he was going to fine all of us $100.00. I said, 
"That might go, but I m going to fight for restoration of 
that too." 

JRH: So, you got back on.... 

Woods: Yes, we were reinstated and I fought for it. I vent before 
the City Council, when they weren t going to gire it to me, 
so I fought to see that we got it. The rest of these fellows, 
not one of them would go with me, so I went up, I feared no 
one, I thought right was right and it will come out in our 
favor. I went before them to preach this whole story to them 
and I was condemning Jack Greening a great deal, and Clarence 
Lee too, for not having backbone enough to stand up and give 
us our rights. To publicize such a thing, to give the City a 
bad name, the Police Department a bad name und maybe we couldn t 
get a Job and so on. It boils me up even nov thinking about it, 
but it went through. 

When Vollmer came back, he called me in and we sat down together 
for about three hours discussing the whole story. Then he, 
August Vollmer, got the different ones in there to talk and 
finally all of us were in there together. Then he informed them 
of what I had told him previously, he wanted to know if they 
agreed. They didn t know of my going upstairs with Clarence Lee 
or anything. Then Vollmer commended me for standing up for what 
was right and fighting for it. He was very happy to know that 
we were not involved as we had been accused. 

I went back to him later, because I was back in the office quite 
a good deal from one department to another department within our 
department. I had many tines to talk to him. One of the things 
I asked, this was earlier, "Chief, I ve been around you a great 
deal, I ve been before you, I ve taken dictation from you, I ve 
been sent on missions by you here and there. I ve been with you 
to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, going along 
with you to take and transcribe some of the things that transpired 
there when you were going through the chairs and all. I think I 
know you pretty well, and I ve been wondering, I want to know 
why, not for myself, cause you ve never worried me, most of the 
men who come into that office, whether they re called in by you 
or whether they re asking for time to see you and your door is 
always open to them to come in. Why is it you make them so damn 

"Every man that comes before you, you see him looking himself up 
and down; but you look at him, glance down and you look him 


Woods: over. You look from one side to the other, like you re 
looking to see whether that man shaved today, whether 
he s got spots on his uniform, whether he needs a haircut 
or whatever. You make him so damn uncomfortable that he 
forgets some of the things that he came in to ask you. 
I want to know if you got a weakness of some kind, what is 
wrong? There must be something that you re trying to pre 
vent us from asking you. There must be something, some kind 
of weakness." 

He avoided it, he d smile a little. He was not the kind of 
man to go around grinning and smiling. He was a very serious 
man, very serious in nature and a very grand person to work 
with and go around for. 

I went to Southern California to die. Sixteen so-called 
specialists told me that I couldn t live over a year. That 
was one of the reasons why Vollmer wanted me to get my 
pension, to get out, whether I survived or not. 

JRH: This was in 1930, huh? 

Woods: No, that was prior to then. I got my pension then, this was 
while I was still in the department. I went up there to add 
the little bit I knew to help Gene Biscailuz. I became very 
closely acquainted with him. He had been the Captain of the 
Sheriff s office in Los Angeles. After I got my pension he d 
become under-Sheriff and then Sheriff. He served the longest 
time of anyone, I guess in the United States as Sheriff. He 
only died a little over a year ago. I wanted to go into see 
him, I hadn t driven a car, my legs got so I could walk pretty 
good. I had to drag one side as I d walk, my right side. I 
had no use, my hand, I couldn t use it. If I wanted to pick 
up anything I had to wear a sock, my fingernails were gone. 

JRH: You ve come all the way back. You re not paralyzed anymore. 

Woods: Oh, I m in pretty good shape today, for an old man. I was 
very quiet on that old man part. I went in to see him, 
Gene Biscailuz, and of course, I d worn a sock. I had a 
pet, a dog that took me as his pal, instead of me taking in 
the dog. I used to walk, it would take me over an hour to 
go a distance of a quarter of a mile up to the sand dunes. 
Day after day, I d go up there and strip my clothes off; 
down to my shorts only, in the sand dunes. I d take two 

Woods: pieces of bread and put some jam on it, that was for the 

dog and myself. We d go up there and I d be up there most 
of the day and finally one day in March, I had no use at 
all in my right hand, if I wanted to pick it up, I d pick 
it up and it d fall down. I couldn t control it. 

Then I tried to get up one day and I went to use my right 
arm and I used it a little bit and it worked. A few days 
after that I went in to see Gene Biscailuz and, after 
talking with Gene Biscailuz, he invited me to go. At that 
time, of course, I was way down in my weight, weighing at 
that time probably a good Uo or 50 pounds less than my 
normal weight, but I d gained some. He took me over to a 
Shrine luncheon with him. I felt very inadequate going 
with him, as I felt I wasn t dressed very good and my 
clothes looked a bit shabby. I went over with him and we 
came on back, he said, "Now, Gene I want you to... in the 
next two or three days... let s find my calendar." So we 
went into his office and got in there and he looked his 
calendar over and called somebody on the phone and said, 
"Gene, can you be back, I think this wao on a Monday or 
Tuesday, I want you back here on Thursday. Can you be 
here at 10:00 Thursday morning?" I said to him, "Gene, 
I can be here at U:00, anytime you say." So I went back 
in and I had quite a visit with him that day. 

We had lunch and he stuck $50.00 in my pocket, this was 
after we got back from the Shrine lunch. He said, "Any 
thing you need, you let me know, I ve got a little fund 
and that s what I ve got it for." I didn t know what he 
had put in my pocket, in fact, I didn t even know about 
this money until I got home. When I went on back, he 
said, "I ve got a Job for you. You re going to either 
assist or head up the investigation for the Los Angeles 
County Grand Jury. That pays the same salary as the 
Chief of Police for the city of Los Angeles. There is 
only a few months to go on that , but that will put you 
on your feet and give you something to do." 

Then about this time Vollmer communicated with me and there 
was a post for me to be interviewed on, to take on investi 
gation in that city. So I went to, on my own I became Chief 
of Police in a few different cities that I went to here and 
there. To reorganize them or to assist in reorganizing them. 


Woods: So Vollraer, every time he commended me very highly and 
told me he d been in communication with those people 
and they told him that I d did a very fine Job and that 
they liked me very much because I d tried to be right 
down to earth and I d gained the respect of the men under 
my command. Of course, when you go to one of these 
departments, there s men that have alwayu been chief of 
that department, and they re not working in your behalf. 
I ll tell you one of the things about Vollraer, in his 
trying to instill in our minds things that we must do 
and how we must conduct ourselves (you may have talked 
to O.W. Wilson). 

JRH: Yes. 

Woods: Well, O.W. Wilson and I were close friends. I visited him 
back in Wichita and he visited me. Then he came to Los 
Angeles, where I d been in Pasadena to reorganize that one. 
He came there for the same purpose to make a survey. Prior 
to that when we were both in the same Police Department in 
Berkeley, we were sent to West Berkeley to meet with a group 
of people consisting of about 150 or 200 (whatever it was) 
they were in the category of laboring class, truck drivers 
and wives and all and quite a number of people there. They 
had a lot of questions and they wanted us to deliver a few 
of the "Dos" and "Don ts" and so forth and what is required 
of a policeman and all; and what we requested of the public. 
What we were to do was to try to inform them of the things 
and answer any questions. 

O.W. said to me, "Gene, I m 15 minutes older than you are 
in the department, so let me take the first portion." Well, 
he talked and talked for a good half an hour and I told him, 
"Whatever you do, O.W., don t talk over 15 minutes, let them 
ask questions." By the time you ve talked thirty minutes or 
over fifteen minutes you ve lost most of them, their minds 
are elsewhere or they re lighting cigarettes or carrying on 
a few conversations." 

Okay, when he got through, he said, "Do you want to take 
over?" I said, "No." When we left there he said, "Well, 
I guess I told them." I said, "Yes, you told them, what 
damn fools we police are. Those people haven t got any 
more respect for you than they have for the garbage man 


Woods: or anyone else. You talked way over their heads, about half of 

the time, which wasn t true. I didn t know what you were talking 
about. You used language that those people didn t understand. 
I know you graduated with honors in letters and science, but as 
far as being an intelligent person, you re a dumb ox." At any 
rate, we always got along. So, getting back to August Vollmer. 

With August Vollmer, the last few times I visited with him he 
talked and of course, this what do they call it? He had 
Parkinson s Disease. I asked him one of the questions I had 
already asked him I guess I asked as many questions as anyone 
who ever worked for him asked. I loved the man and I thought so 
much of him. I felt that I was so close to him that I could 
confide in him anything I wanted to. I asked him, "Chief, I 
would like to know something from you. Is a men who takes his 
life, whether he jumps over the bridge or whether he shoots 
himself to death or whatever means that he destroys his body, 
is he a coward or is he a brave man?" He didn t answer the question. 
I asked him repeatedly. I said, "I have to have a direct answer." 
He said, "I wouldn t be able to answer that question." That 
was the closest he ever came to telling the truth. I think that 
he even evaded a direct answer of not being able to truly answer 
that question. But I ve asked him such questions. 

JRH: You mentioned the other questions you asked him up towards his 
death; whether or not... why he always looked people over. 

Woods: He never would answer that. He d always evade that question with 
a smile. Only a half smile, because he was too serious-minded. 
He said, "Well, you will formulate ideas of your own. Maybe thete 
ideas of yours are strictly your own or may not be concurred in 
by others." That would be the closest that he would come to ever 
answering some of those questions. You may have learned that from 
some of the other people. 

But you may find and I think everyone that would speak up, I don t 
think anyone would condemn him. I only condemned him once to 
his face. One time I was very miserably beaten in that Police 
Department by one man that s been dead and gone many years. I 
made a good Samaritan out of him and that was Frank Waterbury. He 
was one of those that whipped myself; me and another kid from 
South Berkeley. We went in and two other officers helped him; 
they stripped us down. 

We had left school, we went to the Lincoln School in South Berkeley. 
I lived there in the house with my brother. My dad and mother were 
separated. We were only little kids; my brother is five years 
older than myself. We went to school and it was getting near 
Christmas time and we didn t have enough to eat. My dad was well 
fixed; could well afford it. However, not condemning him he s 


Woods: been dead and gone for many years. I ve forgiven bin in my heart 
many times for the things that he failed to do, or did do, and 
for failing to care for us. This Letter Richardson and myself 
Lester is still living in the Los Angeles area we vent to the 
Principal s office. I think we were in the fourth or fifth grade. 
This was Just a few weeks before Christmas and we asked if ve 
couldn t get out (we were far enough in our studies). We d 
already solicited all the stores in South Berkeley to get some 
little Jobs to see if we could earn some Christmas money. 

Both of us stated that we d like to be able to get enough to send 
something, a gift, to our mothers for Christmas. So the Principal 
told us to get back and he reached for a strap that was 
Mr. Blum. He told us to get out. Well, Les Richardson shoved him 
over in the svivel chair upsetting him. He pulled the key out of 
the door and locked him in his room. We left from school. We 
didn t know where we were going. We went on down the street a 
ways half running. About two blocks fromthe school we bumped into 
a man. I should remember his name, he was an ex-convict. We d 
never seen him before. He was only about twenty-three years old 
and he saw us kids and he started talking to us and we walked 
along with him. We were headed in the general direction from there 
clear out to West Berkeley. We were in South Berkeley. We walked 
<n the way along and he had money. He stopped and went into a 
bakery and he bought some doughnuts and cookies. Boyl We thought 
he was a great guy. We had a bite and went along with him. 

Understand, this is the only thing that I went to Vollmer and 
told him that I condemned him for not doing something about this 
situation of how badly we were mistreated. So, we finally wound 
up by going out to West Berkeley Wharf (the Pier) out to the end. 
We got down into a rovboat. I don t know where we were going; 
this guy s taking us for a ride (he s steal ing it). I think he was 
starting to take us across the Bay and by this time we were dis 
covered and water... one of the police officers was shooting at us 
out there in a boat. Three police officers out there shooting at us. 
These shots, one of them went through the boat, one of them went 
right near us in the water. So we headed on back and we got back 
there. This fellow s name was Otto Trenchili. Well, we started on, 
and here they were, riding their bicycles. They came up and they d 
kick us in the back to make us go faster up University Avenue. 
Finally when Trenchili (of course, he was tventy-three years of age, 
we were only little kids ) broke and he ran and get on the side of a 
car and got away. Well, he was later subdued in Oakland. He shot 
and killed an Oakland police officer about two blocks from where I 
lived on Alcatraz Avenue. So he was shot and killed, and he killed 
a police officer; they both shot and killed each other. 

So later in these years when I was in the department, I had gone to 
August Vollmer and complained nearly a year later after this occurred, 
and complained of the way we had been treated. I ve still got a 


Woods: couple of marks on my body that I got from Waterbury. But I vent 
to him about that and he couldn t believe it. I stripped down in 
his office and shoved him. I said, "I vill always harbor ill-vill 
against that man." I forgot after the years, no, I guess I never 
did. Vollraer had he known directly that this was true, but he 
didn t search to find out, but I think that if he had he would 
have really done something about it. My admiration for the man, 
I m sure that he would have nothing like that to take place. 

JRH: Then, he said he hadn t knovn about it, or... 

Woods: No. However, nothing was done about it and in later years I dis 
cussed it vith him again and I told him vher. he was going to be 
elevated as an Inspector (this is Waterbury), I was opposed to that. 
I didn t want to see that happen; I didn t think he earned that 
recognition. But the other man, isn t that funny I don t remember 
the others, but I remember the man who vielded the vhip. That was 
the one with the bad feet. Let s see what else you ve got in here 
that you wanted to know about. 

JRH: Just the stories like you ve told me; stories about what sort of a 
man he was. That was an interesting one. 

Woods: Well, he came to Los Angeles and he was down in San Diego. He came 

down and I was down to San Diego. I vent down there to make a survey 
in their department. He vas down there, I don t know what the 
mission was, but then I was invited and I vent to a luncheon and 
he was there and I had that , and so he also gave me quite a send-off 
(for the survey Job) to the people present at this luncheon. 
There were at least 150 or 200 people there. He gave me quite a 
send-off and dating on back of course, I m going like a round-robin 
trying to tell you things. 

August Vollmer, one day, about 1925 I guess it could have been 26, 
1925 or 1926, he brought a man into the Identification Bureau and he 
said, "Gene" (and whoever was there in the office with me; whoever 
was in charge of the Identification Bureau), he said, "I want you to 
meet Edgar Hoover. I want you to take him up to meet vith 
Clarence Merrill." Clarence Morrill vas the head of our Identifica 
tion Bureau. He vas in the Berkeley Police Department. He vas then 
the head of the State Bureau of Identification and Investigation 
in Sacramento. "I want you to take him up there, take him to Los 
Angeles, take him here and take him there. You will be supplied 
vith your expenses." Edgar Hoover, that didn t mean anything to me. 
So after Edgar Hoover was appointed in the Bureau, of course. The 
Federal Bureau of Investigation vas created then. After he vas 
making his rounds to learn something, to have a smattering knowledge 
of police work. That vas the thing that August Vollmer propounded 
to us in every meeting at our so-called Creb Clubs. Did anyone 
mention about Crab Clubs? 

JRH: Yes, they mentioned that every Friday... 

Woods: Once a month, they couldn t have it every Friday because it would 
be too rough on men as they were working. Once a month, with the 
exception of maybe once or twice in ten year s time that he d call 
a special session. But, usually he d call for key people in his 
office for that. So that could be, that he was calling every week 
by reason of some select group would have soae special Crab Club 
business. He d propound these things to us. 

One of them was, to kill the public with kindness. Make yourself 
feel that you re scared to death that if you turn around someone 
is going to kick you in the pants. That would be the language that 
he d use sometimes. That you re being so kind and nice to the 
people. You have to be, you re not a Judge, but you have to be 
Judge as to whether you re doing the right thing at that time by 
cautioning people, advising them to be more cautious in their 
operating a vehicle, if they re crossing in the middle of a block, 
or any of the things that they might be doing. Stealing something, 
not pickpocket , but stealing some insignificant thing or doing 
some little depredation of some kind. That you, by talking to them 
in a fatherly manner, you can correct something. Whereas you might 
be making an enemy of that person and cause them to dislike us 
more. If you can plant a seed of kindness, you re doing something 
for the welfare of policemen in general. Tnose are the kinds of 
things that he talked to us so much on. Invariably he d call and 
we d have examinations very frequently to see whether different 
ones and a lot of these things were carried out by Jack Greening. 

JRH: No one mentioned that. You had regular examinations? 

Woods: We had examinations. They would be periodical, at least once every 
two months. You would have maybe examinations on the street where 
the fire boxes were; where the outlets were; even though you 
weren t a fireman you had to work in conjunction with your fire 
department, to aid and assist them. To see that cars don t drive 
over the hoses or do whatever to get in their way to creat hazards 
or traffic Jams, and numerous things of thai: nature. There was so 
much that you could be of service to the public. 

We would be sent to the schools. Along with others I ve been in on 
the creation of the School Traffic Squads, whers we had those first 
created. There were two others beside myself in on the origin of 
this. I can t think of their names now, isn t that funny? 

JRH: I have a name, a Mr. Baird, could he be one of them? 

Woods: No he was not in it, originally. He was in it late. The first one 
in that , gee I knew him so darn well . When it was originally 
created there were only three. We d given our time to the schools 
and we d go out there and speak to them to create something. We 
went to San Francisco, too, to see where we could get somebody to 
give us something. We were trying to get a half dozen kids out 
fitted with something. We were trying to get some kind of grant 
or something. 


JRH: I forget names in two years, so that s nothing. You were telling 
us, a good deal of stories, anyway. 

Woods: One more thing I might say is that I ve been in conflict with one 
of the Wardens (Duffy) over at San Quentin; he was born and raised 
over at San Quentin. His father was a guard and then later he 
became Warden (Duffy). He lives in Rossmoor now. We had quite a 
little conflict and we spoke on the subject Jointly. He was 
speaking in behalf of a measure to outlaw the capital punishment 
and I spoke in favor of capital punishment. I told him, "I ll 
tell you why, you Mr. Warden, you never were a policeman; you 
never came in contact with these people on the outside. Only after 
you got them incarcerated in prison. It s up to you to try to 
instill something in their heads there but, we, as policemen on the 
street, we come in contact with these people." In my case, I said, 
"I was stabbed by an ex-convict; I was shot down by an ex-convict. 
I ve come in contact with some of these hop-heads, some of these 
people, narcotic addicts, where I was only fortunate in one case 
there were three of them and I was pretty well beaten up by them, 
but I managed to keep one and I wouldn t shoot a man down unless I 
absolutely had to." 

I knew what the taste of lead was and I said, "Now Mr. Warden, 
you re opposing this. If your mother, your wife, your daughter 
were molested or were raped you d be the first man to want to gouge 
their eyes, to chop their fingers off and a few other things of 
that nature. I went into a department store at 2:00 in the morning 
where a couple the man was the organist at a theatre, the other, 
the girl was the ticket-taker at this show house on University 
Avenue they came down after they were through they d go out for 
a ride and this fellow lived upstairs over this place. He went 
up there to get something and the girl was parked in his car. This 
fellow, the burglar, was down in the store and she saw him so they 
drove and saw me and I asked them to go directly to the police 
department and tell them I need help. I went up there and I put my 
shoulder (I was telling this whole story to the Warden) to it and 
I went inside and there were little peanut globes. If you know 
what a peanut globe is it emits very little amounts of light 
inside but you can see your way around. There I saw a trail of 
things spewing out down the stairs. 

I went down there and I found in all this rubbish and all this 
crockery and everything else, the packing boxes were down there. I 
called out, I said, "Okay fellow, throw your gun out and come on out. 
The place is surrounded and you can t get away." This guy threw 
a .1*5 caliber gun out and it scared the daylights out of me. I 
didn t know where it come from. He was an ex-con. Well, I picked 
it up and stuck it in my belt. Then I composed myself evidently 
because he never knew I was scared! 


Woods: He came on out there and by this time I ve got him with his hands 
behind him, handcuffed. He said, "Well, I ll tell you Woods, I 
laid there with this gun pointed at your badge; I was planning to 
kill you. I wasn t fifteen feet away from yon." He d gotten the 
gun from the Armory which he d burglarized. But he said, "When 
you said this place was surrounded, I thought of the rope." I 
said, "Mr. Warden, my life was saved by my speaking of the rope." 
That man feared the death penalty. 


INDEX Gene Woods 

Alaraeda, City of, 1 

Baird, Mr. William E. , lU 
Berkeley, City of, 1 

City Council, 7 

City Manager, 5 

City Marshal, 1 

The Pier, 12 

Police Department, 1, 2, U-7, 10 

Identification Bureau, 3, 13 

Record Bureau, 3 

South Berkeley, 11 

West Berkeley, U, 10, 11 

Biscailuz, Gene, 8-9 
Blum, Mr., 12 
Brereton, George, k 

California, State of 

Bureau of Identification, U, 5 

Highway Patrol, 8 
"Crab Clubs", 13-1 1 * 

Duffy, Clinton, Warden, 15-16 
Edy, John N., 6 

Federal Bureau of Investigation, 13 
Greening, John A. "Jack", U, 5, lU 

Hoi strom, John D. , 1 
Hoover, J. Edgar, 13 

International Association of Chiefs of Police, 7 

Lee, Clarence, 5-6 
Lincoln School, 11 
Los Angeles, City of, 1, 13 

Sheriff s Office, 8 

County Grand Jury, 9 

Morrill, Clarence, 13 
Mull, Grorer, 5 

Nanking, 1 


Oakland, City of, 1, 12 

Parkinson s Disease, 11 
Pasadena, City of, 9 
Police Procedures, 2-3, 10, 13-1 U 
Prohibition, U 

Richardson, Lester, 12 

Hossrooor, 15 

Sacramento, City of, 13 
San Diego, 13 
San Francisco, City, 1, lU 
San Quentin Prison, lU 
School Traffic Squads, lU 

Trenchill, Otto, 12 
University of California, 2 

Water bury, Frank, 13 
Wichita, Kansas, 9 
Wilson, Orlando W. , 10 

YMCA, 2 

University of California Bancroft Library/ Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 

August Vollner Historical Project 

Al Coffey 

An interview conducted by 
Jane Howard Robinson 

1972 by The Regents of The University of California 


A.L. Coffey was born in 1907 and served as August Vollmer s secre 
tary from 1931-3. He remained in the Berkeley Police Department for 
several years, and later went on to reach the position of Chief of the 
Bureau of Identification and Investigation. Mr. Coffey brings the per 
spective of a career police professional to this August Vollmer series. 

Interviewer: Jane Howard 

Time and Set 
ting of 
Interview: One interview was conducted, on August 9, 1971, in 

Mr. Coffey s ranch-style home in Sacramento. The interview 
began at 9:30 a.m. and concluded at 10:30 a.m. 


Account of 
Mr. Coffey 
and the 
Progress of 
the Inter 

The interview was corrected for spelling and punctuation 
errors by Jane Howard. In addition, after consultation with 
the Bancroft Library Regional Oral History Office regarding 
the appropriate procedures, several interesting anecdotes 
related by Mr. Coffey off the tape were pharaphrased . Sug 
gestions were made on points for inclusion of these anecdotes 
points in the written transcript. Mr. Coffey edited the 
transcript extensively for style, but did make only minor 
deletions of information. He also agreed to the inclusion of 
all but one anecdote. These anecdotes are now part of the 
written transcript. 

Mr. Coffey was born in 1907, in Fresno County, California. He 
attended Armstrong Business College in Berkeley, and the 
University of California. Coffey worked in the Berkeley 
Police Department for thirteen years, in a variety of assign 
ments, including patrolman, sergeant, and inspector. During 
World War II he served in the Pacific in the Marine Corps. 
After the war, A.L. Coffey worked in the Bureau of Criminal 
Identification and Investigation, serving as supervisor of 
the investigation section, and then Chief of the Bureau. He 
was a lecturer at the University of California in 1958-59. 
Mr. Coffey retired from the Bureau in December 1971. 


A.L. Coffey (contd. ) 

Coffey opens the interview by stating that he served as 
August Vollmer s secretary from 1931-33. He found Vollmer 
to be a nan who knev what he wanted, a man who followed his 
own clearly thought out set of principles, and a man who 
paid careful attention to detail. Coffey found that Vollmer 
attacked problems very aggressively, and with a sense of 
direction. During Vollmer s tenure, Coffey reports, morale 
in the department was extremely high; Vollmer related well 
to all staff and all members of the department respected 
and admired him. 

Turning to Vollmer s professional role. v Coffey mentions 
Vollmer s work promoting the formation of the Bureau of 
Criminal Identification and Investigation, his leadership in 
the International Association of Chiefs of Police and his 
extensive correspondence with police officers throughout the 
country and the world. Coffey discusses Vollmer s efforts to 
make policing nonpolitical , and his deep involvement in the 
Berkeley community. 

Coffey tells two stories: one, on Vollmer s conflict with 
the Berkeley city manager, in 1933, over police salaries. He 
also remembers meeting Vollmer accidentally in a speakeasy 
during prohibition. 

The conversation turns to a consideration of the types of 
correspondence Vollmer handled. Mr. Coffey recalls that it 
covered a wide range from chatty letters to long time friends, 
to responses to citizens requests for information, to technical 
advise to fellow police professionals. Ccffey mentions here, 
as he does at several other points in the interview, that 
although Vollmer sometimes seemed to be austere, his corres 
pondence revealed great warmth and gregariousness. 

In response to a final question from the interviewer, Coffey 
comments that when Vollmer met with opposition to his ideas, 
he would listen openly to discussion until he came to a 
decision and would then act forcefully to carry out that 

Jane Howard 

ALC: Well, let s follow your questionnaire then, as a beginning at 
least. How did I get to know Vollmer? 1 was his secretary at 
the police department in 1931 continuing for about two years. 

JRH: Was he still on the force then? 

ALC: He was still Chief of Police but apparently had a part-time 

arrangement. I had Just Joined the department and Vollmer was 
teaching at the University of California. He would come to 
the Police Department in the late afternoon to take care of his 
correspondence. He would dictate from U p.m. to 6 p.m. or later 
and then leave. I had the balance of the night for transcription 
and getting the work out. 

JRH: So you would work evenings for him then? 

ALC: I was assigned on the U p.m. to midnight watch. Through hand 
ling his correspondence I got some insight into the things he 
was doing and the manner in which he functioned. 

JRH: Was he officially with the Police Department? 

ALC: Yes, he was still officially with the Department as Chief even 
while he was at the University. Then Captain, who later became 
Chief Greening after Vollmer 1 s retirement actually was doing a 
great deal of the administration of the Department. 

Under these circumstances my acquaintance with Vollmer was as an 
employee. I did not have a continuing contact with him and never 
developed a personal relationship with him as some of the other 
members of the Department did. 

You also asked what effect he had on my life both personally and 
professionally. I think I d have to answer that I was influenced 
by example rather than precept. To a person as young as I was 
Vollmer was an impressive figure of a man. Physically, he was 
above average height, rather sparely built with an erect almost 
military bearing. He was beyond middle age and impressed me as 
being a somewhat austere, not particularly warm sort of person 

Again my reaction to him was that he was a very incisive sort of 
person who knew pretty well what he wanted. I think his decisions 
were made relatively easy for him because of his adherence to 
a set of well defined principles. I felt that he lived with a 
personal philosophy which enabled decision without too much 
emotional involvement. 

I ve gotten into your second question as to the kind of man he was. 
One of the things which impressed me most about him was that within 

ALC: my experience he was a perfectionist. At that tine he was 

writing for publication a lot; magazine articles, book reviews 
and that sort of thing. He would polish, re-polish and re- 
polish an article until it net his every requirement. 

Another thing which made a lasting impression on me, and maybe 
itfs saying the same thing a little differently, was the fact 
that he organized himself and his work more precisely than 
almost any other person I ve ever known. He would prepare for 
dictation, have his material laid out on his desk in the order 
he wanted to handle it , and knew exactly how he wanted to handle 
each item. He would run through a heavy correspondence schedule 
and then he would rough out the articles he was writing. The 
next evening he would revise the articles. We would do this over 
and over and over again until he was satisfied. 

JRH: Would he outline his correspondence? 

ALC: No, he had the correspondence he wanted to respond to stacked on 
his desk and he would run through it piece by piece. I mentioned 
earlier that I felt him to be a very incisive rather austere 
person and yet this has to be balanced against the fact that from 
his correspondence, his letters to friends he had known years 
earlier when he was younger, he had been a very warm and gregarious 
person. He maintained correspondence with people in all walks 
of life and some of his references to occurrences years before 
left me with the impression that he had been in his time the 
equivalent of what we now might call a "swinger." At the time I 
knew him he had suffered a heart attack, possibly this contributed 
to a change of pace for him. Also he had stopped smoking at 
that time. 

JRH: How old was he when you knew him, in his late UO s? 

ALC: No, I think he must have been pretty well into his 50 s, because 
he was eligible to retire which he did around 1933, so he must 
have been approaching his 60 s. You,of course, have his early 
background the mail carrier thing and his tenure as Marshal 
before the formation of the police department. 

JRH: Very few people have known much about him during this early period. 

ALC: I don t really have any stories about him except the history. As 
I understand it, he had been a mail carrier in Berkeley, had 
subsequently been elected City Marshal and when the police de 
partment was organized he was appointed Chief of Police. 

I can t give you the name of the person but my information was 
that Vollmer was greatly influenced in the administration of the 
police department and in many of the policies he initiated by an 
official of the Oakland Police Department. That man had a 
decided influence on him. 

ALC: Maybe because the Berkeley Department in those early days was 
in its formative stages Vollner vas able to do a lot of inno 
vative thinking and initiate some advanced practices and 
policies without having to overcome the inertia of long estab 
lished procedures as would have been the case in a department 
which had been in operation many years. 

Another of the things about Vollaer which made a lasting im 
pression on me was an apparent tendency to attack a problem. 
Physically he appeared to be a quick moving, well coordinated 
athletic type person and I felt his mental processes were 
consistent with the physical. To my knowledge he never pro 
crastinated and I felt that he had a pattern planned for his 

JRH: Do you think for example he intended to go on and start a school 
in Berkeley? Is that what you mean, in that sense? 

ALC: No, I don t think so. I don t mean that he had tunnel vision. 
Rather that he had generated a well defined eet of personal 
principles, that he knew pretty well what he wanted to accom 
plish, knew where he was going and thought in terms of the 
future rather than Just living in a day to day situation meeting 
things as they developed. 

He had a strong impact on the people around him. Everybody in 
the department and within my experience, most of the people 
around him, accepted him as a leader. I *elt there was less 
friction, less internal dissension in the department during his 
tenure than at any subsequent time. Many of the people with 
whom I worked have said in effect, "I ve never gone in to talk 
to the Old Man without coming away with some new ideas or some 
additional thoughts on a problem." 

Because he was such a positive individual I have felt that his 
act of suicide when he learned the nature and extent of his 
illness was consistent with his aggressive relationship to 
life. I m sure it was not done in panic or from fear but rather 
that it was a calculated well considered decision. 

JRH: Do you think some people might have been afraid of him by his 
austerity at all? 

ALC: No I don t think so. As a matter of fact he had a much closer, 
less formal relationship with some people on the department than 
in my case. I have reason to know that there were times when 
he acted very paternalistically toward some members of the group. 
There were at that time actually about four generations on the 
department. There was the generation of Vollmer himself including 
the original personnel; there were the people who had come along 
subsequently who were on their way up through the ranks. There 
was a generation of patrolmen ahead of my time; and then the 
generation which included John Holstrom, myself and others. 

ALC: How did he relate to the people he dealt with on a frequent 
and close basis; to friends, employees, or professional 
colleagues? His relationships I think were almost uniformly 
good. Personally, of all the people I have ever worked for I 
enjoyed him most. I never before or since worked harder or 
more enthusiastically. I think most people were inspired 

The only additional comment I might make would be that I was 
well aware of his professional stature, where he was out 
standing. Police officials throughout the world acknowledged 
him as a leader in the profession; a man in the forefront of 
the developing police science. 

JRH: Internationally who were some of the people? 

ALC: He carried on a continuous and extensive correspondence with 

police officials and government officials throughout the United 
States and the world, among whom were administrators from 
Scotland Yard in London, the French Surete in Paris and most 
all the other world capitals. 

He had been as I m sure you know, one of the early presidents 
of the International Association of Chiefe of Police. He also 
played a major part in the promotion and lobbying of the legis 
lature which preceded the establishment of the California Bureau 
of Criminal Identification and Investigation. 

The reason and the need for this Bureau of course was that at 
that time the police had the problem of adapting to the mobility 
of offenders who were transient. During those years for 
instance, in booking felony prisoners we took nineteen sets of 
fingerprints, one for our own files, the others for exchange 
with other departments in the Bay Area and Statewide in an 
effort to provide information as to possible offenses or offenders 
in other Jurisdictions. For these reasons Vollmer earlier Joined 
with other police officials and lobbied for the establishment 
by the State of a central records keeping depository. The Bureau 
of Criminal Identification and Investigation grew out of those 

JRH: Do you know who he would talk to to get it established? You say 
he lobbied for it; what did he have to do to get it started? 

ALC: Because it was intended and designed as a state function it was 
necessary to convince the members of the State Legislature that 
the proposal was valid, that there was a need, that it was 
legitimately a state activity, and that the legislature should 
appropriate the necessary monies. 

JRH: What I m thinking is were you ever involved with say writing 
some of the letters in the process of getting legislation 

ALC: Mot too much. The State Bureau was in operation before I 

Joined the Police Department. Also at that time law enforce 
ment even more than now, was regarded as being a local concern. 
As a consequence there was not as much legislation in those 
days which affected law enforcement. Law enforcement now is 
demanding a great deal of attention from everyone and there is 
much scrutiny of law enforcement activities these days. 

In what ways was he influential in the community in Berkeley and 
in Alameda County? I think that Vollmer was most responsible 
for the acceptance and support of the department by the community. 
He recognized the need for community support and the department 
in those early days had almost solid public support. 

The Berkeley Department under Vollmer was one of the first police 
agencies in the country to recruit employees on the basis of 
ability rather than appointing on the basis of political connec 
tions or pressure. It was first also to recognize the need for 
psychiatric evaluations of applicants and as early as 1930 
utilized the services of a psychiatrist for recruiting. Since 
those days law enforcement generally has made every effort to 
avoid political interference, or political or partisan activity. 
Vollmer I m certain, contributed greatly to this philosophy that 
law enforcement should remain non-political. Because of his 
stature as an enforcement official and because he made every effort 
to maintain good press relations Vollmer spoke with authority in 
both the city and county. 

JRH: I understand he made a lot of speeches in the community which 

kept the community aware of what was going on. Did you help him 
with any of these? 

ALC: Not so far as his speeches were concerned. He encouraged depart 
ment personnel to become involved in civic activities, to Join 
local service clubs, and participate generally in community life, 
as he encouraged them to continue education activity. I think 
another thing which contributed to Vollmer s stature in the 
community and generally was that with his rise to prominence he 
was frequently invited to survey major departments throughout the 
country and to serve as consultant in the upgrading of other law 
enforcement agencies. As I have indicated he also published a 
great deal, writing on many phases of law enforcement. 

Solar as anecdotes or stories I recall, the outstanding recollection 
that I have can only reinforce the comments made earlier. 
Vollmer s retirement actually resulted from a disagreement with 
the City Administrator over police salaries. It was, I believe, 
in 1933 that the then City Manager, Hollis Thompson, caaae to 

ALC: Vollraer s office during the dictation session. Because of the 
Depression, Thompson indicated that he felt it advisable to 
reduce police salaries. Vollmer s response vas a positive "The 
day you cut salaries in the Police Department you can go out 
and buy yourself a new Chief of Police." Thompson did cut 
salaries and Vollmer took his retirement, I believe for that 
reason only. 

I also remember going, after a Stanford-University of California 
game, with a friend to a speakeasy in the Santa Cruz Mountains 
during the Prohibition era. We ran into August Vollmer and the 
man vho later became Chief of the Berkeley Police Department , 
Captain J.A. Greening, and his wife. Neither the Vollmer party 
nor the Coffey party acknowledged each other and very shortly 
Vollmer and Greening got up and left. I vas surprised to see 
them there, in a way, although I knew that la his earlier days, 
Mr. Vollmer had really been quite a "goer. 1 " I got the impression 
that Vollmer was well-known in the speakeasy from the way he 
chatted with the people there. I have the general impression 
that Vollmer was very sociable in his youth, and well-known in 
the Berkeley area bars and very popular with women as well as men. 

JRH: I d be interested if you can describe some of the kinds of 
correspondence he was working with at that time. 

ALC: It covered a wide range. Apart from the normal business of the 
Police Department most of it dealt with general police problems 
and procedures. He discussed problems, and made recommendations 
or offered suggestions in responding to correspondence from 
administrators in other departments. 

JRH: Ones he had et or hadn t met, I wonder? 

ALC: Both. A great many he was acquainted with because of his tenure 
as President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. 
The others were Just a wide range of people asking for information 
or advice so far as police activities were concerned. Many 
inquiries were from university students or professors. Other than 
that sort of thing much of his correspondence was exchanges with 
acquaintances or friends of many years. Here again despite his 
outward austerity and apparent sternness, he had a capacity for 
expressing himself very warmly and humanly. For a long time I 
kept copies of some of his letters to old friends, letters of 
condolence or sympathy because of death or illness. 

JRH: Since he did introduce so many innovations, presumably he ran into 
a lot of opposition with some of them. How did he handle it? 

ALC: I don t really know that he met serious opposition from his own 
community. I m sure he met disagreement and argument from other 
departments. In keeping with his general makeup I m sure that 
he would listen to any discussion with an open mind until he 

ALC: came to a decision, then override or ignore the opposition. One 
area of disagreement of course was Vollmer s recruitment policies. 
He recruited at age 21 and in those days most departments would 
not appoint under age 25 or in some instances 27 years. Then too, 
his emphasis on education and professionalism. Both of these 
factors have since become standard practices but in those days 
we (Berkeley officers) were widely and deprecatingly known as 
the "college cops" or the "whiz kids" and other such terms. 

Even then also, and despite Vollmer s unquestioned public support, 
money for law enforcement was a problem. This probably generated 
some opposition at times when he requested funds for untried 
new ideas. 

JRH: How did he manage it before 1933? I guess he managed to get 
pretty good funding for his police department? 

ALC: I believe so, but of course I don t know how long, how many 

budget periods it took for him to get these things accomplished. 
I suspect even then he had to pioneer, educate, amass supporting 
data, and argue, as police administrators do in these days. 


INDEX A.L. Co f fey 

Berkeley Police Department, 1-3, 5-6 
recruitment policies, 5-7 

California, State of 

Bureau of Criminal Identification 
and Investigation, U 
Legislature, U 

Greening, Captain J.A. , 1 

Holstrom, John, 3 

International Association of Chiefs of Police, U, 6 

Oakland Police Department, 2 

Scotland Yard, 1 

Stanford - University of California Game, 6 

Surete" , k 

Thompson, Hollis, 5-6 
University of California, 1 

University of California Bancroft Library /Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 

August Vollner Historical Project 

George Brereton 


An interview conducted by 
Jane Howard Robinson 

1972 by The Regents of The University of California 


George Brereton, born 1901, was interviewed by Jane Howard as part 
of the series on August Vollmer. Mr. Brereton brings the perspective of 
a leader in California law enforcement who worked with Mr. Vollaer during 
Vollmer s tenure as Chief of the Berkeley Police Department. 

Interviewer: Jane Howard 

Time and Setting 

of the Interview: One interview was conducted on July 9, 1971, with 

Mr. Brereton in his antique furnished home in 
Sacramento, California. The interview began around 
11:30 a.m. and concluded at approximately 1:00 p.m. 

Editing: Editing of the transcripts was done by Jane Howard. 

Paragraphing, correction of some misspelled names 
and punctuation was done. A section unclear from 
the tape to the typists was filled in. The changes 
were minor. Mr. Brereton edited extensively. He 
made many changes to eliminate informal English in 
the interview. He also expanded on some of the ideas 
and concepts discussed. 

Narrative Account 

of George Brereton 

and the Progress George Brereton, born in 1901 in Mendicino, California, 

of the Interview: received an M.A. degree in history from the University 

of California at Berkeley in 1926. He continued 
graduate studies toward a Ph.D. through 1929. 

Mr. Brereton s professional career began in 1922, when 
he took a Job as a Berkeley policeman while still an 
undergraduate. He continued to work for the Department 
through 1929. In 1930 he became director of the first 
police training school in the United States, at San 
Jose State College. 

Subsequent professional experience includes six years 
with the San Diego Sheriff s Department and service in 
the U.S. Havy during World War II. Brereton became 
Chief of the California Bureau of Criminal Identification 
and Investigation in 19^5 and rose to Deputy Director of 
the State Department of Justice by I960. He retired in 


George Brereton (contd. ) 

Mr. Brereton is the author of many articles on police 
training, police professionalism, and on California 
lav enforcement agencies. 

The interview follows the question outline Quite 
closely. Mr. Brereton explains that he cane into 
policing because he needed a Job, but decided to remain 
in the field because of the impression August Vollmer 
made on him. Mr. Vollmer was always fair and supported 
and encouraged his men, he says. 

Mr. Brereton talks of Vollmer s stress on courtesy 
toward the public, and of his national and international 
influence and of his drive and energy. 

In response to the question on Vollmer s state influence, 
Brereton discusses Vollmer s role in establishing the 
Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation and 
his work with Earl Warren on enforcing prohibition. He 
also mentions his own assignment as an undercover agent 
to get evidence on Contra Costa gambling and bootlegging. 

In relation to Berkeley, Mr. Brereton recalls the 
cooperative relation between Berkeley fraternities and 
the Berkeley Police Department, and Vollmer 1 s acquain 
tance with University of California, Berkeley presidents. 

Mr. Brereton touches on Vollmer s principles, and his 
kindness to staff, in response to questionnaire items. 

The tape concludes with a discussion of other men who 
might be good interview subjects. 

Jane Howard 

BRERETON: ty father was the first Chief of Law Enforcement for the United 
States Forest Service in the California Natural Forest and his 
office was in San Francisco. In his work he became a good friend 
of August Vollmer. Also in those days my mother was a teacher 
and my father had been a teacher some years before. But they 
didn t have very much money, so going to college was a matter of 
trying to work my way through and the first two years I went to 
college, I "waited on table" at my fraternity house and I did 
different Jobs. 

One day my father said, "Why don t you take the examination for 
the Berkeley Police Department?" and, if you will pardon the ex 
pression, I said, "What the hell do I want to be a policeman for?" 
He said, "Well, one reason is that they pay $175 a month." And 
I said, "$175 a month?" He said, "Yes, and there are several 
college fellows in the Berkeley Police Department" and he said 
"Chief Vollmer and I have been talking and he asked me why don t 
your son take the examination." 

Since times were bad, (just like they are today for young people 
trying to get Jobs in anything my grandchildren for example 
and my son, who after 15 1/2 years as a Senior Mechanical Engi 
neer lost his Job at Project Sacramento. ) I took the examination 
and 8 or 9 months later was notified to report for work on the 
midnight shift. In those days they gave various tests, and psy 
chological examinations. Dr. John Ball was one of the consultants 
that Chief Vollmer had and a Dr. Rowell was also one of the 
interviewers. He has since passed away. He was not related to 
the Rowell s of Fresno or the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle; 
in fact, those Rovells were related to my first wife who is 

Anyway, I took the exam and went to work and at that time was 
taking 18 units in mining engineering. Actually I think I ended 
up with an incomplete in my civil engineering course because I 
didn t have time to finish my surveying which we did on the 
hillside back of the Greek Theater. That was one reason which 
caused me to change my course from Mining Engineering because I 
would have to have given up my police Job and gone out into a 
mine during the Summer starting my Junior year for three months ; 
secondly, I wasn t doing too well in chemistry, although I did 
receive good grades in high school. I didn t care for the particular 
section leader in Chem 1A so, to make a long story short, I 

BP.ERETON: changed my couse and majored in history and ninored in political 
science and economics. 

In the early days, (at that time I think I vas the 35th policeman 
who came on the Police Department) they gave you the number of 
the last man to leave the department; in fr.ct, I think I still 
have the old badge around some place. What I should do is find 
that and give it to you; Badge No. 1 that vat my number. 
Somebody had either died or retired and so I had No. 1 although 
I vas not number one in the police department. We vould all vork 
six days a veek and the newest patrolman vould get the last 
choice of shifts, so that is vhy I vent on the "graveyard" (12 
midnight to 8 a.m.). I also got the last choice of vacations, 
after everybody else had made their selection, and college could 
not interfere vith your police vork. Lots of times ve d have 
to have longer hours and so we d have to cut class and that sort 
of thing. 

But, Vollmer was a very wonderful person. I had a very high regard 
for him, as did the others. He, of course, had had no great amount 
of formal education. I m not quite sure, but I don t believe he 
even went to high school. I think he Just finished grammar school. 
As I remember hearing him tell about it, he was in the Spanish- 
American War and came back to Berkeley and became a postman and he 
made a lot of friends so that when a constable was needed he was 
elected City Constable of Berkeley. Then, as time went on, he self- 
educated himself and became a very, very highly educated man. He 
had that ability. He was a terrific reader and had developed a fine 
library by the time I came in the department, April the 7th, 1922. 
He had become well knovn, internationally known, and he was great for 
training and for newer theories. That s the reason why he encouraged 
university students to come into the police department. It was 
his belief that eventually all policemen would be required to have 
a college education and, of course, you see how that belief has 
progressed. Even though he had little formal education himself he 
was certainly far better educated than many college graduates be 
cause he was a terrific reader. As time went on he became an out 
standing important police expert and made a great many surveys 
(I ve forgotten how many he made) and traveled around the United 
States and the world. But personally, I never had any relationship 
with him. I was a patrolman there only. 

Of course, he did have a important and lasting impact on my life and 
I had the highest regard for him because of his intelligence and his 
self-education. He knew far more than a great many professors on 
problems of policing and lav enforcement, psychology of people, etc. 
Although I had changed my course and planned to become a college 
professor and teach history (and did in fact teach history), actually 
the impact he made on me caused me to remain in lav enforcement and, 
as time vent on, more and more I was affected by his influence. 

BRERETON: In the first place, I was recommended by Chief Vollner when I 

started the police training school in September 1930 at San Jose 
State College. Vollmer recommended me and 1 went down and started 
the first two-year college full-time police training school in the 
United States at San Jose. You will find a reference to that in the 
Wickersham Report. They had short police schools at other places 
and Vollmer had taught several courses in the Summer Session at the 
University of California at Berkeley and I had taken some of those 
courses. Dr. John Don Ball had given courses in psychiatry and we d 
take trips to the prisons and the mental hospitals. About every 
Friday Chief Vollmer would also conduct a little school for all the 
policemen and of course there were only 35 or Uo, so you had to get 
out of bed if you were on the 12 to 8 shift to attend school that 
day. Everybody was there. At that time Walter Gordon have you 
talked with him? was on the department and he was one of the 
first patrolmen to teach me the rudiments of patroling "a beat." 

JRH: Bancroft is doing an Earl Warren history and they are interviewing 
him in relation to that, so I m not going to do one. 

BRERETON: Walter Gordon was at that time a policeman in the Berkeley Police 
Department as well as attending law school at Cal and he was the 
one that I trained with. The way they started training in the 
Berkeley police when I started they d send you out on the street 
in an automobile and with an older experienced policeman. You d 
go around with him for several nights and then with somebody else 
and Gordon was one of the patrolmen that I was assigned to. He 
taught me how to be careful in going down dark alleys, turning 
door knobs, etc. We had to patrol "a beat." For example, my 
first "beat" was from the Albany boundary to the northern boundary 
of Oakland and from Sacramento Street to a certain area called 
the west waterfront. And on some nights on the 12 to 8 shift we 
had only two or maybe three policemen to patrol the entire city 
of Berkeley. 

JRH: That s a big territory. 

BRERETON: Well, we didn t have some of the problems that you have in Berkeley 
(1965-71) nowadays. In fact, a later beat of mine was from Shattuck 
Avenue to the Hills (last street) and from Bancroft Way to Derby 
Street. So I had the University "beat" in the days when I could as 
a lone patrolman at Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue handle the 
problems. We d have the Rally Committee and the Senior Peace Com 
mittee help if the kids came down and started trouble. I would 
have no difficulty and we never had to call any extra police 
because members of the Big C Society, the Peace Committee and the 
Rally Committee and other students helped. They would say, "George, 
do you need some help to stop those kids from cutting the fire hose 
lines or overturning a car," and if I said yes they took care of the 

BREFETON: problem. Incidentally, part of our Jobs in those days (1922-29) 
vas to make a tour of the fraternity houses looking for "souve 
nirs." We knew most of the fellows and we would collect all the 
mementos they had been "stealing" (i.e., red lanterns, street 
ropes , etc . ) the past year and get them back without any problems . 

Volimer was a very striking man, tall and slender. As I remember 
his hair was slightly gray. He was a great backer of his men. If 
you were in the right no ore could get your Job or get you in trou 
ble. If you arrested a State Senator speeding down Telegraph Avenue 
and you were in the right, he would support you. On many different 
occasions, he supported our actions. If you were wrong, which I was 
on one occasion, he had a great deal of understanding and sympathy 
and forgave my indiscretion. He was Just a very, very wonderful 
person. He had a lot of magnetism which would draw you to him. 

One of his great expressions when he would speak to us in those 
Friday afternoon hour and one half sessions, (of course, it was 
a very small school compared to what we have today and what has 
been done) was, in speaking to the public, "kill them with kind 
ness." And he used to say, "When you re talking with a person 
on the phone always be courteous." Anyway, he would say, "In 
dealing with the public, this may be the first and last time that 
that person ever has contact with the police; either with the 
Berkeley Police Department or with a policeman, and it may be a 
minor or a major thing; it may be a complaint about a crowing 
rooster, which they had in Berkeley until recently, it may be a 
barking dog, or it may be children throwing rocks against an 
elderly woman s door. Whatever it is, it s veryimportant to 
that particular complainant to take that report and answer them 
personally and give them the courtesy, understanding, respect and 
service they are entitled to. If you do that the complaining 
person will support the police department, not only the Berkeley 
Police Department, but have a good opinion of police in general 
because that may be the only time the complainant ever comes in 
contact with the police." 

Well, I think as far as impressing others, he impressed people 
all over the world. He did have some of the "old-time" policemen 
who opposed his progressive ideas and who did not believe that a 
policeman could learn anything out of a book, but the amusing 
thing is that some of the ones who originally said the only way 
you could learn policing was "to put them out on a beat later 
supported the training school. Of course, we in Berkeley were 
put on the beat and that s the way we were learning in 1922. 
But Volimer was developing this ideas that he wanted to put 
training schools in police departments and put courses in the 
universities and establish police training schools throughout 
the country. And, as time went on, of course, that requirement 

BRERETON: is now being initiated for some lav enforcement agencies. Some of 
the people that were attacking Vollmer followed hi* methods in 
later days. For example, in the city of San Francisco some of the 
early chiefs of police or chiefs of detectives there "looked dovn 
their noses" at him. But that didn t bother him. He rose above 
their ridicule. There vere many old-time policemen who had come 
up the hard way and did not agree with his ideas. He had come up 
the hard way too, but he was thinking far in advance of his time. 
They were ridiculing him, but he overcame that and was called into 
their cities (Kansas City and many others around the country) to 
reorganize their departments. In 1923-2U he went down to Los 
Angeles and reorganized that police department and, later, many 
others around the world. 

He had a tremendous drive. Incidentally, whatever shift you were 
on, you had about twenty minutes for a meal on the eight hour shift 
and you had no radios. We had what they called the Gamewell signal 
system, a red light system with red lights hanging at the inter 
section of major streets throughout the city. You had your own 
number of flashes, you would watch for that number and then telephone 
the police station from a police "call box" (telephone). You would 
patrol your beat and in all the areas where they had stores you got 
out of your car and you tried the front door and then went around 
to the back door to ascertain if they were locked. You did that 
at least two times a night. If a store was broken into the next 
day your superior wanted to know if you tried that door or had seen 
a window broken. So the 1* to 12 and 12 to 8 shifts checked against 
one another and the day shift (8 to U) checked on Sundays and holidays, 

Vollmer had a lot of influence on the men. Everybody in the depart 
ment, in those years I was there, loved him. He worked more than 
his share. As I said, I didn t mingle with him socially. I don t 
remember meeting his first wife and I didn t meet his second wife 
until after he retired from Berkeley and had gone to Chicago 
University and came back and was teaching in Berkeley. 

In what way was Vollmer influential in the community of Berkeley? 
I think Vollmer was Berkeley. He could do no wrong. Nobody would 
have dared to cross him and as far as Alameda County is concerned 
he was well-liked and he was disliked only by jealous people. But 
he was respected throughout the world; in Japan, in England, in 
Germany, etc. As time went on police officials and others would 
meet him and would listen to his theories , lectures , or read his 
writings. He became internationally famous. You can understand 
that when both the University of California and the University of 
Chicago would take a man who had no degree at all and give him a 
full professorship without any problem at all. That doesn t happen 
to but a few people. Although when I returned from U 1/2 years of 
naval service in 19*5, I was offered a full professorship at the 

BRERETON: University of Southern California. I turned it down because I vas 

Chief of Identification and Investigation at that time and vas better 
paid than I would have been in Los Angeles. I had a Master of Arts 
degree from the University of California, but Vollaer without any 
degrees could step into any university and hold up his own con 
versing with anyone about many subjects and preparing scholarly 
papers. His language was good, his knowledge was tremendous. Of 
course, his main interest was in doing a good police job and in 
training good policemen. Training young men to be good policemen 
and organizing police departments so that they were fine, honest, 
efficient, modern police departments was his lifelong work. 

Long before I was chief of the State Division of Criminal Identifi 
cation and Investigation, he had a great deal to do with its reor 
ganization and modernization in 1917. Incidentally, it was probably 
the first in the country being first established at San Quentin in 
1909. It was first set up about 1900 at San Quentin prison and 
then it was allowed to lapse for a year or two and then, in 1917, 
it was reorganized under the influence of August Vollmer, who was 
one of the three board members and one of the leaders to have this 
state bureau established by the State Legislature. The FBI wasn t 
organized until about 192U or 1925. Vollmer had the state bureau 
going and the California state bureau handled for the eleven western 
states many identification problems and received fingerprints, photos 
and records from Kansas City, Seattle and many other cities and all 
of the western penitentiaries. 

He also had a lot to do with the development and organization of the 
International Association of Chiefs of Police and, of course, when 
he was at the University of Chicago he gave more impetus to training 
as he did at the University of California when he was there. He was 
followed to UC by O.W. Wilson who was on the Berkeley police depart 
ment a year or two before me and he was one of the so called "college 
cops . " 

I ve told you some of the things he was Involved in with the state, 
such as the State Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investiga 
tion. You might as well call it "his baby." He reorganized it 
and pushed it. 

JRH: Did he become the chairman of a board? 

BRERETON: Yes, there was a Board of Managers. The Bureau of Criminal Identifi 
cation and Investigation was originally governed by a Chief of Police, 
a Sheriff, and a District Attorney, appointed by the Governor. And 
he was the chief of police. I ve forgotten who the DA and the sheriff 
were. Later Earl Warren was District Attorney and was on the Board 
of Managers. I ve forgotten who else, maybe the Chief of Police of 

BRERETON: San Francisco and the Sheriff of Los Angeles were the other board 
members, (but at one time Warren, Sheriff Biscailuz of Los Angeles 
and Chief Bill Quinn of San Francisco were members ) . When Warren 
became Attorney General he wanted to remain on the board, and he 
had the law changed so that he became an ex-official member of the 
Board of Managers. They had no Department of Justice at that time. 
It wasn t until Warren became Governor and Bob Kinney was the Attor 
ney General, that they got together and established the Department 
of Justice by combining the Attorney General s office and the State 
Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. And, if I 
remember correctly, he brought in the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement 
at about the same time and the Bureau of Criminal Statistics. Later 
in fact, I had those three Bureaus under my direction when I was 
Deputy Director of the Department of Justice. 

JRH: Do you know if Vollmer worked with Earl Warren on any other things? 
In the county or in the State? 

BRERETON: I knew Earl Warren only as District Attorney of Alameda County. In 
fact, the first time I met him was when he must have believed that 
the Berkeley Police had more integrity than some of the others be 
cause he arranged, through Vollmer, to have us, in teams, raid 
Emeryville which was running wide open, and had been for many years. 
It was "wide open." It was full of prostitutes houses of prostitu 
tion, liquor joints and Chinese gambling. We went down one night 
and I was on a team that crashed into one place with a sledge hammer. 
This was at Uoth and San Pablo at a place called the Key Route Inn. 
Right in back of the Key Route Inn there was a Chinese illegal 
gambling "Joint." We "hit" six or seven other gambling "joints " at 
the same time. Oscar Jansen, who was Warren s boy Friday, had been 
a former federal investigator led the raids and later worked with 
us in Berkeley for a time. He and his wife were both undercover 
agents and for awhile and later Oscar worked as Warren s Chief 
Special Agent, and still later, when Warren vas Governor Oscar was 
appointed a Lieutenant Colonel in the California National Guard and 
retired as a Brigadier General. 

JRH: I also heard that during Vollmer s time, it should have been when 
you were on the force, that there was some effort made against, or 
there was still some Klu Klux Klan in there and Vollmer made some 
effort against them. Do you remember this at all? 

BRERETON: Well, I would say this, Vollmer would have had nothing to do with 
supporting the Klu Klux Klan. Do you mean Klu Klux Klan in the 
Berkeley Police Department? 

JRH: Not in the department, in Alameda county. I meant, had he been 
active in trying to control their activities in the county? 


BRERETON: In the first place, I should have known because I m a Catholic. 
In fact, there were only two Catholics in the Department. I 
was the second Catholic to be brought in, while Officer Patrick 
O Keefe was the first. But that had nothing to do with Vollmer. 
It didn t make any difference to Vollmer whether you were a 
Catholic, Protestant, Jew, black man or a white man. What he 
wanted was men who were honest , sincere and who had integrity and 
a good mental capacity. As I said, they gave Binet, Army Alpha 
and other tests and wanted to get some men of above average intel 
ligence. Returning to the KKK, I had heard some rumors there was 
some minor activities, but if there was anyone working on it it 
might have been some of the detectives, i.e., Inspectors Waterbury, 
Wilson and Jack Greening, (who later became Chief of Police there) 
and another detective whose name I ve forgotten. And he might 
have been working with Warren on that. 

One of my first duties in the Berkeley Police Department which I 
objected to strenuously was an "undercover assignment." Clarence 
Taylor , a graduate in engineering and I were called into Vollmer 
office one day and he said, "You re going to be temporarily as 
signed to the DA s office of Contra Costa County to get the evi 
dence on all the gambling Joints, liquor Joints, and houses of 
prostitution in Contra Costa County." Well, neither of us liked 
that at all. I had a personal resentment and antipathy towards 
that type of operation and, secondly, I didn t believe in the 
Volstead Act or the Wright Act. I had come from a family that 
had grown up with liquor in the house. I had had beer and wine 
and when I was a little boy, when we would come in after a long 
horse back trip (I was from Mendocino County, I was born and 
raised there) wet and cold we would make a tiny hot toddy or some 
thing. So I didn t like the idea of going in under false colors. 
But he said, "Do you like your police Job?" I said, "Yes, I do." 
He said, "Either you take this assignment or you won t be working 
with us." 

On another occasion, he called me and, I had a very poor handwriting. 
I had fairly good handwriting once but I ruined it going to college 
because I would try to get everything down on paper which was said 
in a lecture. So I would write my police report. When you got 
through your police "shift" you always had to write your reports, 
if you had a burglary or whatever you had, when you came in off 
your beat. Relative to my reports Vollmer said, "One thing you are 
going to have to do, either you re going to have to learn to use a 
typewriter or you re going to learn to write clearly so we can 
read your report or you re not going to be here very long." I said, 
"Yes, sir" and I learned to use about four t jngers typing. 

JRH: We heard that Vollmer wasn t a terribly strong believer in Prohibi 
tion himself. 

BRERETOH: Well, I m sure that he wasn t. 

JRH: But he did enforce the lav? 
story you vere telling? 

You did follow it in relation to the 

BRERETON: I would say probably he had the sane kind of feeling that I had to 
ward it. I know nothing about his private life, whether he took a 
drink during Prohibition or not. I would certainly have no reason 
to say that. But we enforced the laws there and actually I nearly 
lost ray Job at one time because of being on a liquor raid and three 
of us each took a pint bottle of wine. The stuff wasn t any good 
anyhow. I went hone and took a sip out of it, but it wasn t good. 
Vollmer wasn t Chief at the time. He was on leave down in Los 
Angeles (another officer was Acting Chief), but I think that probably 
it was due to Vollmer s great understanding of human weaknesses and 
the stupidity of young kids that caused him to keep us from being 
discharged. But anyway, he had a deep understanding and sympathy 
for people. He understood the psychology of people and he had great 
sympathy for any problems of the men or their families. 

JRH: One thing else about the community you mentioned earlier. You 
mentioned that when you were on the campus beat generally the 
men would know most of the people in the fraternities. 

BRERETON: I belonged to a fraternity (where I lived) and I had friends in all 
of the houses. I could walk into any fraternity on the campus and 
there would always be somebody there who would say, "Hello George, 
how are you?" Or if something would disappear, they would help find 
it. For example, on one occasion, a bunch of kids from one of the 
fraternities that s still there (the freshmen) went over to North 
Beach and, of all things, stole four or five musical instruments 
from the band who, I suppose, were out having a drink or a rest. 
And they stole a big bass horn. I don t know how they got it home. 
There were headlines in the San Francisco paper and police were 
wild and so somebody called me and asked me if we had a report of 
any musical instruments stolen and what would happen to those that 
took them. I told them it was grand theft. They said that the 
kids had had too much to drink and then asked if they could get the 
instruments back to the musicians, could they drop the charges. I 
think I checked with Vollmer or the captain or sargeant and said 
yes. Some superior knew it was a prank and he said, "Bring them 
down and we will straighten it out," which we did and there was 
nothing further done about it. Kids would steal souvenirs which I 
suppose they still do today; sometimes street signs and stop signs, 
plants and red lanterns. Once or twice a year a few of us would go 
through the fraternity houses on our beats. Probably there would 
Just be two because there would be some fraternities north of campus 
and some south. We would load our cars and bring the articles to 
the police station and the boys would moan and groan but they, of 
course, could do nothing to prevent our actions. 


JRH: Somebody said that Vollner used to know the people in the frater 
nities himself. 

BRERETON: Yes, he knew many of them. Of course he knew some of the older 
men or some of those who would get in trouble. He knew the 
Presidents of the University, i.e. Benjamin I. Wheeler, David 
Prescott Barrows, Dr. Campbell and Bob Sproul, the Comptroller 
who became President he knew all of them. Vollmer at that 
time lived on Grove Street in a flat or an apartment on North 
Grove . 

I ve talked about principles and major ideas. Training and educa 
tion were his great major interests and integrity of his men and 
sympathy for them. He would attempt to prevent crime. He would 
have the men on the beat to encourage the shopkeepers or the 
storekeepers to place their safes out in front of the windows of 
their stores and not keep them hidden, also to put electric 
lights in the alleys and not leave them dark for the burglars to 
work in more safety. He would ask the store owners to cover the 
doors and the windows with metal bars. He was thinking all the 
time of ways for his men to pass out this information to prevent 
crime. We had to be trained in various subjects and take firearm 
instruction. We had to study the Penal Code and take examinations 
on it and on city ordinances and on a number of other books. We 
were always encouraged to get books from the University, and also 
to get books from his library. And he had some of the best books 
of the early criminologists . Hans Gross s Criminal Investigation, 

How did he relate? He related very well, very courteously, with 
empathy and sympathy among all people. On the other hand, he 
would support anyone for his principles if he believed them to 
be correct. He had kindness and a great amount of mental courage. 
One thing he had, you know, over the years was a bad heart. He 
used to carry a little pillbox and he used to take nitroglycerine 
pills. But that never kept him from doing anything. He never 
talked to me about his personal life or anything of that nature. 
I don t think he considered that my business, which it wasn t. 
We were good friends and he was constantly trying to keep track 
of his boys, and tried to help everyone of them. 

JRH: I also interviewed Gene Woods. He told me tht he showed Hoover 
around the State and Hoover learned some of Vollmer s ideas at 
that time. 

BRERETOH: I don t remember that. Gene Woods? 
JRH: Yes. 


BRERETON: Gene Wood s father, Al Woods, was one of the detectives who 
was there when I came on the police department. Gene came, 
I m sure, after I did. And he was shot at Durant and Shattuck 
one morning about six o clock. But I don t remember Gene s 
trip with J. Edgar Hoover, but there were a lot of things that 
I wouldn t remember or that I might not even know about, as 
far as that goes. 

When I first met J. Edgar Hoover while I was Undersheriff in 
San Diego in 1935 or 1936, I was teaching at San Jose State 
College, where I started the police school in 1930 I started 
there in September 1930, that was on Vollmer s recommendation. 
I was also employed in Santa Cruz as Chief Criminal Deputy 
Sheriff from 1932-193 1 *. When Sheriff Dresser of Santa Cruz 
County was defeated, the new Sheriff in San Diego, Ernest Dort, 
came north to see Vollmer to get his advice because he didn t 
know a thing about policing. In fact, he ran on the basis that 
he was honest and that he d have a new regime. The Sheriff 
Ed Cooper, who had been in office twenty years had had some 
tough luck a lot of bad murders. So Dort who had been Post 
master in San Diego for some twelve years said, he was going to 
get someone who knew policing to come in and reorganize the San 
Diego Sheriff s Department. So he came up to see Vollmer and I 
was lucky enough to be recommended by Chief Vollmer to become 
Undersheriff of San Diego County (January 1935 - December 1938, 
when I resigned to accept the position of State Supervisor of 
Peace Officer s Training with the State Department of Education 
at Sacramento). 

JRH: You mentioned Mr. Mull as somebody else who worked with him. He 
sounds familiar. We have Mull, but we don t have his address. 

BRERETON: Oh, Grover Mull was in the police department there. He s 79 now 
but very bright, he now lives at Diamond Springs, California, 
P.O. Box 6l6, 95619. 

JRH: Is there anyone else that you would think would know about him? 
John Holstrom has given us the names of a lot of people. 

BRERETON: Yes. Of course, John Holstrom worked for me at the University 
of California stadium and then I got him interested in police 
work and I encouraged him to take the examination for the 
department. Mull told me that Bob Robinson was living over in 
Mill Valley and I think he knows where Ralph Proctor is. Bob 
Robinson has an unusually long name: Shayer O.L. "Bob Robinson." 
I think that when you talk with Mull, if you get a chance, he 
will tell you where Robinson lives and also Ralph Proctor. I 
think he was in the military service too, but I don t know what 
he did. 

JRH: We have Maeshner s name. 


BRERETON: Eddie Maeshner isn t he dead? 

JRH: I don t know. 
BRERETON: Hare you got Bill Peck s name? 

JRH: He (Holstrom) went through the files, but he listed them by members 
and ex-members. So the people that quit we may not have. He listed 
them by retirees (people who stayed through and then retired) and 
then a separate section on the people who left before retiring. 

BRERETON: These fellows all left. 

JRH: Holstrom has Proctor s address. He thinks it s 1800 North Street 
in Berkeley. 

BRERFTON: Proctor. Well, may be. Bill Peck, is he there? 
JRH: He has nothing about Bill Peck. 

BRERETON: Well, he may be dead. Mull will know more about thi than anyone 
because he was there and he stayed after I left. 

JRH: He came in 1923, Holstrom says. 

BRERETON: Well, then he came after I did. I came in 1922. 
JRH: But he was considerably older. 

BRERETON: Yes. He was from World War I. But he is 79 and I am 70 last 
May 23rd. 

JRH: Holstrom has quite a list, but I don t know if he has everybody. 

BRERETON: (Looking through Holstrom s book) Owens. V.A. Leonard. He s 
still alive and writing books by the carload. He was an inside 
clerk when I knew him. 

JRH: Only trouble with him is he s so far away. 
BRERETON: Kenney, Heinrick, tape ended, reviewing names off tape. 


INDEX ~ George Brereton 

Alameda County, 5 

Ball, John, 1, 3 

Barrows, David Prescott, 10 

Berkeley, City of, 5 

City Constable, 2 

Police Department, passim 
Biscailuz, Sheriff Gene, 7 

California, State of 

Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, 6-7 

Bureau of Criminal Statistics, 7 

Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, 7 

Department of Education, 11 

Department of Justice, 7 
Campbell, Dr. William W. , 11 
Contra Costa County 

District Attorney s Office, 8 

Emeryville cases, 7 

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 6 

Gamevell signal system, 5 
Gordon, Walter, 3 
Guinn, William "Bill", 7 
Greening, Jack, 8 

Hoover, J. Edgar, 10, 11 
Hoi strom, John, 11 
Heinrick, E.O., 12 

International Association of Chiefs of Police, 6 
Jansen, Oscar, 7 

Kansas City, Kansas, 5 
Key Route Inn, 7 
Kinney, "Bob", 7 
Ku KLux KLan, 7-8 

Los Angeles, 5 
Leonard, V.A., 12 

Mendocino County, 8 
Mull, Grover, 11 
Maeshner, Eddie, 12 


San Francisco Chronicle. 1 

O Keefe, Patrick, 8 
Ovens, 12 

Peck, Bill, 12 

police procedure, 1, 2, 3, U, 5, 8, 10 

police training schools 

at Berkeley, 3, ! 

at San Jose, 3, 11 
Proctor, Ralph, 11 
Prohibition (Volstead Act), 8-9 

Robinson, Shayer 0. "Bob", 11 
Rowell, Dr. Hubert N. , 1 

San Francisco, 5 
San Diego, 11 
San Quentin, 6 
Santa Cruz , 11 
Sproul, Robert G. , 10 

Taylor, Clarence, 8 

United States Forest Service, 1 

University of California at Berkeley, 1-2, 3, 5, 6 

fraternities, 9 

Rally Committee, 3 

Senior Peace Committee, 3 
University of Chicago, 5, 6 
University of Southern California, 6 

Vollmer , August , passim 
description of, U 
education, 2 
health, U 
Spanish-American War, 2 

Warren, Earl, 6, 7 
Waterbury, Inspector Prank, 8 
Wheeler, Benjamin Ide, 10 
Wicker sham Report , 3 
Wilson, Orlando W. , 6, 8 
Wright Act, 8 
Woods, Al, 11 
Woods, Gene, 10 

Thomas Hunter 

Willard Schmidt 

Alfred E. Parker 

Jane Howard Robinson and Gene Carte. September 1972, 

University of California Bancroft Library/Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 

August Vollmer Historical Project 

Thomas Hunter 

An interview conducted by 
Jane Howard Robinson 

1972 by The Repents of The University of California 


Thomas Hunter was interviewed as part of a series on August Vollraer, 
the professional and the man. Mr. Hunter talks from the perspective of a 
law enforcement professional who rose from the Berkeley Police Department to 
become Supervisor, Special Services Division, in the Bureau of Criminal 
Identification and Investigation. 


Time and Setting 
of Interview: 


Account of 
Mr. Hunter and 
the Progress of 
the Interview: 

Jane Howard 

One interview was conducted on August 9, 1971, in 
Mr. Hunter s office at the Bureau of Criminal Identifi 
cation and Investigation. The interview began at about 
2 p.m. and concluded at 3 p.m. 

The interview was edited by Jane Howard for typing and 
spelling errors. She also replayed the tape, filling in 
the blanks in the interview left by the typist where the 
tape was unclear. Mr. Hunter edited the manuscript, 
making a few minor corrections on names and dates. 

Thomas Hunter began his career in law enforcement in 
1935, upon graduation from the University of California 
with a group major in police administration. After brief 
employment at the Berkeley Police Department, Mr. Hunter 
received an appointment in 1936 as special agent for the 
State Board of Examiners. He remained in that position 
until 19^2, when he went to work for the Bureau of Criminal 
Identification and Investigation. Mr. Hunter retired in 
1971 from his position as Supervisor of the Special Services 
Division of the Bureau of Criminal Identification and 

The interview begins with a discussion of Mr. Hunter s 
enrollment at the University of California in Vollmer s 
group major in police administration. Mr. Hunter recalls 
becoming part of August Vollmer s informal "gang" at 
South Hall, becoming interested in Vollmer s secretary, 
and being married in 193 1 * to this secretary, Muriel Bigelow, 
in Vollmer s home. Upon graduation from the University 
of California in 1935, Mr. Hunter took a Job with the 
Berkeley Police Department until his appointment as a 
special agent for the State Board of Examiners" in 1936. 


Thomas Hunter (cont. ) 

lie remembers useful advise and encouragement received 
over the years as a friend and neighbor of Vollmer s. 

The interview turns to a discussion of Vollmer s exten 
sive knowledge on a vide range of topics. Hunter also 
talks about Vollner s informal group of "V" men, and 
tells about the "V" men s group tripe to Yolo County, 
California where Hunter s wife s family had a farm. 

Hunter feels, as did many other interview subjects, that 
Vollmer s most outstanding trait was his innovativeness. 
He cites Vollmer s adoption of modus operand!, his lobby 
ing for the establishment of the Bureau of Criminal Iden 
tification and Investigation and his work on the establish 
ment of the East Bay Regional Parks. 

Hunter s thoughts turn to an anecdote about an accident 
involving the Berkeley city manager and Vollmer on the 
first day of Safety Week. Hunter mentions that Vollmer 
was an unpretentious man, easy to work for, and that 
Vollmer was very fond of children. 

Hunter closes by saying he feels people are finally be 
ginning to see Vollmer s influence on current police 
practices, particularly in the area of administration. 

Jane Howard 

JRH: How did you get to know Vollmer? 

HUNTER: I became interested in doing work in police administration so 
I wrote to the places where they were giving courses. I wrote 
to August Vollmer to ask what were the potentials in going to 
Cal and to George Brereton, who at the time was Director of 
the new Police Science course in the first experiment outside 
of the University at San Jose State College. I thought Vollmer s 
looked better. 

JRH: What were you doing at the time? 

HUNTER: I was living in Southern California at the time and starving 
through the depression of 1929-31 or 32 and some of my class 
mates who had gone on to Cal came home in the summertime and 
encouraged me to go to Berkeley. I was working on a newspaper 
which was paying very low wages and I figured that I could 
starve in Berkeley as well as I could in Pullerton, so I came 
north. I was enrolled in August of 1933 and finally graduated 
on what I think was the first, at that particular time, group 
major in Police Administration. In 193** the University had 
adopted a provision making it possible to major across colleges 
and, of course, this was long before the School of Criminology 
existed and so I had a number of courses in addition to Pro 
fessor Vollmer s class, which I took in my Junior year. There 
were a cross section of economics and history and other matters 
which was considered relevant to being a policeman and I was 
graduated in May of 1935- 

Shortly after I arrived in Berkeley, I became a member of an 
informal gang that hung around Room 11, South Hall, which was 
the Chief s office. It had a big advantage that the window 
was level with the ground outside and you could sit down and 
talk with people inside the room without having to go in the 
building. As part of this relationship with the gang I was 
rather attracted to this secretary, Muriel Bigelov. However, 
I was economically unable to afford a girl friend, so nothing 
much happened on that score until the Fall of 193 1 * when we 
were married. The Chief enthusiastically encouraged this 
transaction and even loaned his home for the ceremony, the 
event taking place in his living room while we were able to 
look out over the bay in very pleasant circumstances. 

HUNTER: After our marriage I stayed in school until graduation and worked 
for the Berkeley Police Department from January 1, 1935, until 
I was appointed to be the special agent for the State Board of 
Medical Examiners in San Francisco in September of 1936. This 
necessitated a move to San Francisco at a time when Muriel was 
more than eight months pregnant and caused a lot of difficulties. 
However, the commuting situation in those days was such that I 
had no great choice but to reside in San Francisco. Subsequently, 
we did return to Berkeley and lived on Miller Way Just one block 
uphill from his home on Euclid and accordingly both we and the 
children frequently had opportunities to pass the time of day with 
"Uncle Gus" and I, of course, received much helpful advice from 
him on what type of employment might be available and what might 
be preferrable over the long run. 

He encouraged me to obtain employment with the State Bureau of 
Criminal Identification and Investigation which I eventually did 
in January of 19**2. He had been the first chief of police 
member of the Board of Managers which was composed of a district 
attorney, a chief of police and a sheriff. He had participated 
in 1909 and through the years to lobby the necessary legislation 
to create the Bureau in 1917. So he was able to give me a lot 
of interesting background information as to how the bureau came 
to be formed. 

I remember one such story was his description as to how a rather 
elemental organization, technically the first State Bureau, had 
been formed pursuant to 1905 legislation and set up at the prison 
at San Quentin. The idea was exactly the opposite of a centralized 
identification bureau, inasmuch as the purpose was to take many 
fingerprints of any incoming prisoners and distribute those prints 
to some 17 law enforcement agencies in the 11 western states. 
It has been interesting to me to note that while some of the 
sheriff s offices and police departments that were in that early 
distribution pattern have had their ups and downs as far as 
efficiency and honesty; nevertheless, their identification bureaus 
have had a reputation for efficiency and high quality work through 
the years. 

The Chief told me that the sheriffs and chiefs of police, who were 
not satisfied with this small bureau and were lobbying in the 1909 
session so hard for some other centralized bureau with a wider 
scope of activities such as we finally obtained in the 1917 statues. 
But the lobbyists forgot all about the San Quentin institution and 
there was no budget provided so the 1905 bureau went out of business 
after about four years of existence. This could have been the 1907 
session since in those days the legislature met in the odd numbered 





August Vollmer haul the potentialities of a great man and he would 
have succeeded whether he had stayed in his feed and fuel business 
or whether he chose some other field. We are fortunate that he 
happened to be interested in law enforcement and the police. Be 
cause of other elements in his life he spent a number of years as 
a bachelor with much time to read and his self-education was modestly 
evident. I have heard him converse with doctors of medicine concern 
ing the blood circulatory system in humans, talk to psychiatrists 
concerning various mental afflictions and on no occasion was he in 
the position of being talked down to. He did not parade his know 
ledge, but he had a vast amount of information about a number of 
highly technical things. I believe the one thing that he did 
never master was how to drive an automobile and sometimes I believe 
that that was very smart of him. 

How so? 

As some of the pictures of the gag organization, the International 
Association of V-Men indicate, August Vollmer, like all of the 
great ones, was never one to stand on rank or ceremony. He needed 
no artificial props to his dignity. He mixed with his students and 
was genuinely fond of them and they of him. If he had done nothing 
else in his life, he at least breathed inspiration and incentive 
into the hearts of many people who subsequently have very important 
places in the leadership groups of law enforcement. In fact, if he 
had any fault it was perhaps putting too much faith in the people 
he had faith in. He would sometimes recommend people for something 
that was really beyond the person s ability. 

You mentioned before who was in this association of yours and how 
you all got together. 

Well, this was a very informal group. The "V" men, as I said, was 

more or less a pap. 
with V s" on them. ) 

(The "V" men even had badges 7 point stars 
A play on "G" Men which had been possibly 

overdone about that time, but there were such people as the now 
Dean Milton Chernin from the School of Social Welfare at Cal, A.E. 
Parker, Burtis C. Bridges, author of the book on fingerprinting, 
Ben Holmes who at one time was a U.S. Postal Inspector. 

Those are more pictures of Vollmer? 

Yes. Arthur Bellman, now as well as then, practicing law in the 
East Bay. Persons of all ages and backgrounds who were a part of 
the group that came to him for leadership and inspiration. 

JPH: You were saying you used to go out to your wife s home up in Winters... 

Yes. One of the social activities of "V" Men, apart from occasional 
spaghetti and meatballs and beer bust in one of the Telegraph Avenue 
bistros, was an annual trek to Yolo County where Muriel Bigelow s 
father had a ranch abutting Putah Creek. At that time the swimming 
was good in the creek and it became practically one of the "rites of 
Spring" for us to spend, usually around Easter Week, swimming in 
Putah Creek and using the background hills as bullet stops for our 
amateur gunnery sessions. 

A small illustration of the man s adjustment to himself was his 
ability to tell a Joke on himself. He told us one time rather 
informally, or at least nothing particular of a relevant nature 
had occurred, but he was telling about his invitation to attend a 
police council in Germany during his around the world trip immedi 
ately after he retired from the police department. This, as you 
will recall in point of time, was after the development of the 
National Socialists and the S.S. which under the Nazis became high 
officials in the police as well as everything else. He told us that 
the conference was terminated by a rather elaborate dinner and every 
one toasted everyone else and then the German police disappeared, 
leaving "Uncle Gus" with the check for the dinner. And so much for 
international hospitality. 

During my time both on the campus , and for that matter even today 
in some places , August Vollmer had to overcome a basic distrust 
on the part of people who were bound to the conservative "don t 
try anything new" school in law enforcement. Even today a large 
portion of police administrators are very reactionary and do not 
look with any interest in changes, even if they might be for the 
better. Consequently, I have heard, particularly in the days when 
he was still active in the university, the derogatory comments 
from unenlightened law enforcement people attributing his efforts 
to mere publicity grabbing. 

However, I think that anyone taking an objective view of his efforts 
would see that he was the spark plug that lent considerable velocity 
to a lot of new ideas in the law enforcement field. He was an active 
enthusiast for modus operand! which he translated into U.S. English, 
both figuratively and literally, to make it possible in the U.S. 
This, of course, was of interest to me because modus operand! pro 
cessing is one of the things in my section which even today we have 
some doubts on the part of our administrators as to whether the 
technique is worthwhile. He took an active part in the formation 
of the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation and in 
lobbying for it through the years until the first bill setting up 
what we essentially are now was passed in 1917. We operated in 
much the same way with added tasks for well over half a century 
until July 1 of this year when the present administration abolished 
the Bureau and reorganized the Department. 

HUNTER: One activity which may not be too well known to law enforcement 
people after leaving the University and the formation of the 
Regional Parks. He was a member of one of the early Board of 
Directors and took an active part in transforming what had been 
merely guarded watershed land, which in my day at Cal was no 
man s land so far as university students and girl friends climb 
ing over fences and looking for wild strawberries, into a chain 
of public parks which are now showing great value to the East 
Bay area. There is a "Vollmer Peak" in the north East Bay 
Regional Park as a permanent remembrance of Vollmer. In fact, 
these parks should be considerably larger since I understand 
the use of the parks is very tremendous these days. 

At the statewide level I would say his influence was very high 
in the formation of this bureau and the encouragement of orga 
nized groups such as the State Peace Officers Association, and 
the development of the Berkeley Police Department. 

Although in my day I soon found out once I left the city of 
Berkeley that there were two things one did not discuss in 
the general police field: (a) that you had never seen the 
inside of a four-year college or (b) that you had ever been a 
Berkeley policeman. There seemed to be a certain prejudice 
against either condition. However, I believe that this has 
long since changed and the mere fact that it has, during the 
last thirty years, come about is one of the long range benefits 
of August Vollmer 1 s work in the field. 

JRH: Do you remember any other stories about your group or anecdotes 
about Vollmer? 

HUNTER: No, I don t. There must have been some, but one that I did not 
know of any great detail and you may have picked it up from 
some of the other people or if you haven t, I d certainly ask 
them about it. The City Manager of Berkeley at one time, the 
first one if I m not mistaken, was a man named John Edy. And 
he was a very much dominating type. It was the beginning of 
the City Manager concept, all power went to the City Manager 
and the City Council sat and backed him up and he was , from 
what I gather from when I was there, a rather irascible type. 
Uncle Gus did tell a tale about how on the first day of their 
Traffic Safety Week that he was riding in an automobile west 
bound on University Avenue somewhere between Shattuck and Grove 
and I guess Edy must have been driving, because certainly the 
Chief wouldn t be and so they had a collision and, this being 
safety week, it was somewhat of a source of embarrassment for 
the City Manager and the Chief of Police to be standing out 
looking at these wrinkled fenders right in the middle of downtown, 



He was an easy man to get along with and a very considerate man. 
I, of course, had some menial Jobs in my day and I hashed while 
I was going through school and I have concluded that itfc only the 
phonies that have to make with a lot of front and stuffiness and 
derogation of the peons and when you find someone who does that 
you put him down as a phony and when you find someone who has real 
status and he doesn t do that you know that he is genuinely a good 
man. That I think was his way. 

People say he was good with kids, 
to see some of him. 

You mentioned that your kids used 

Yes. He would pay as much attention to the youngsters and talk to 
them as individuals as grownups. In looking over material for you 
I found one letter that I didn t have time to disengage. I wrote 
it on a piece of note paper. Sometime in 1953 I believe, he had 
written me acknowledging some book with statistics or something 
that I had sent him. And after thanking me for that he said, 
"Well, it s back to the hospital now for some more surgery. For 
the cuttee it doesn t feel so good but I guess it s necessary to 
have it done," or something, more or less philosophically, so he 
pretty well accepted the world. 

I think that probably about now and from here on people will begin 
to see his hand in the back of many police elements. He was re 
tained to reorganize the Los Angeles police department in about 
1931. It could have been earlier, but there are still some things 
down there in their reports that bear the mark of changes that were 
adopted by August Vollmer that long ago so he had some pretty 
good basic ideas. 

INDEX Thomas Hunter 

Bellman, Arthur, 3 
Brereton, George, 1 
Berkeley, City of 

Police Department, 2, 5 
Bridges, Burtis C. , 3 

California, State of 

Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, 2, U 

State Police Officers Association, 5 
Chernin, Milton, 3 

Edy, John, 5 

Fuller-ton, 1 

Germany, k 

Holmes, Benjamin, 3 

International Association of V-Men, 3 

Los Angeles Police Department, 6 

modus operand! (M.O.), U 

Parker, Alfred E. , 3 

Regional Parks, 5 

San Jose State College, 1 
San Quentin, 2 

University of California at Berkeley, 1 
Police Administration, 1 
School of Criminology, 1 
School of Social Welfare, 3 

Yolo County, U 

University of California Bancroft Library/Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 

August Vollmer Historical Project 

Willard Schmidt 


An interview conducted by 
Jane Howard Robinson 

1972 by The Regents of the University of California 


Willard Schmidt, born in 1908, was interviewed by Jane Howard as 
part of a series on August Vollmer, the man and the police professional. 
Mr. Schmidt brings the perspective of an individual ^ho worked his way 
up through the ranks from a high school volunteer to director of the 
San Jose State College Police School. Mr. Schmidt also brings the per 
spective of experience as a member of Earl Warren s crimebusting squad. 


Time and Setting 
of the Interview: 


Narrative Account 
of Mr. Schmidt 
and the Progress 
of the Interview: 

Jane Howard 

One interview was held on Friday, August 27, 1971, at 
the Berkeley Police Department. The location was 
selected as convenient for both the interview subject 
and interviewer. Mr. Schmidt was ir. the bay area 
briefly for a visit, and the Berkeley Police Department 
kindly made space available for the interview through 
John Hoi strom. The interview began at around 7 p.m. , 
with Chief Holstrom sitting in for about 15 minutes 
at the start of the interview, and concluded at about 
9 p.m. 

Jane Howard edited the interview for typing and clerical 
errors. Mr. Schmidt corrected spelling of names and 
amplified and clarified some of the sections discussing 
policing technology. The changes were not major. 

This interview is particularly notable for its lengthy 
discussion of Mr. Schmidt s participation in Earl Warren s 
raids on bootlegging and gambling establishments in the 
1930 s, and for Mr. Schmidt s thoughtful reflections on 
the changes in policing since Vollmer s time. 

Willard Schmidt was born in Berkeley, California in 1908. 
While attending Berkeley High School, Schmidt became 
interested in policing and worked during his last two 
years in high school as a volunteer trainee in the Berkeley 
Police Department. On graduation in 1928 he went to work 
for the department and served in & variety of positions 
until 1938 when he left to teach at the San Jose State 
College Police School. Schmidt went from this position 
to the directorship of police training at Sacramento 
State College. During the war, he was the national chief 
of internal security. After the war, he completed his 
bachelor s degree at San Jose State and went on to become 


Willard Schmidt (cont. ) 

director of the San Jose State College Police School, 
a position which he held until 19&. Mr. Schmidt 
currently serves on the California Council of Criminal 
Justice, among other activities. 

The interview opens with discussion of how Mr. Schmidt 
came to know August Vollmer: his father was one of the 
men who urged Vollmer to run for town marshal in 1906. 
When Schmidt went to work on a voluntary basis for the 
Berkeley Police Department as a high school Junior he 
became acquainted with Vollmer. 

Schmidt discusses his early years in the department, and 
his recollections of Vollmer, saying that Vollmer was a 
nan who encouraged his staff to try out new ideas. 
Schmidt emphasizes that many of the innovations for 
which Vollmer received credit resulted from ideas devel 
oped by other men, both In the department and in the 
Berkeley community, notably Clarence Lee. 

Schmidt comments on Vollmer *s philosophical outlook on 
life, relating an incident from the night before Vollmer s 
suicide. He also talks briefly about Vollmer s second 
wife Pat. Reflecting on the current problem of aliena 
tion of the police from the community, Schmidt feels that 
Vollmer might have had some answers to current problems. 
He discusses Vollmer s willingness to try out new ideas 
proposed by the community residents, and staff. He 
speaks of Vollmer s lighter side, discussing swimming 
trips and Vollmer s guitar playing. 

The interview turns to Vollmer 1 s "crab clubs," regular 
Friday training sessions. In response to a question, 
Schmidt explains that Vollmer was strongly opposed to use 
of the third degree, to verbal abust of criminals, and 
to petty theft from criminals by police officers. 
Schmidt feels that this attitude was an important factor 
in the respect of Berkeley lawbreakers for the Vollmer 
police force. 

Schmidt returns to the difference in the relation between 
police and the community now and then, attributing the 
good relations that characterized Vollmer s era, in part, 
to superior personnel, Vollmer s personal rapport with 
many community members and leaders , and to the fact that 
most policemen lived in the community at that time. 


Willard Schmidt (contd. ) 

A lengthy discussion of Schmidt s relation to the 
Earl Warren crimebusting squad follows, as planned 
by Schmidt, Miss Howard and the Bancroft Library 
Regional Oral History office. Schmidt collected 
photographic evidence on many raids. He discusses the 
gambling parlors and speakeasies in Emeryville, 
Warren s investigative staff, the techniques used in 
raids, and Vollmer s cooperation with Warren in the 
conduct of the raids. He comments on various members 
on Warren s raiding team. 

After this discussion of Warren s crimebusting, the 
interview returns briefly to August Vollmer, and his 
work with the press, followed by further discussion of 
the speakeasies and Vollmer s attitude toward prohib 
ition. Schmidt talks about the careful patrols made at 
night by foot patrolmen in their assigned areas. He 
returns briefly to discussing the Warren raids. 

The interview concludes with comments on how Vollmer 
made clothes, food and lodging at the city Jail avail 
able to the poor and needy in the community. 

JRH: How did you get to know Vollmer? 

Schmidt: He was a friend of our family going back to Vollmer s running for 
Town Marshal. My uncle, George Schmidt, at the time was the 
Postmaster and they needed someone to run for Marshal vho was a 
popular man in town and Volloer was a postman and my uncle called 
him in and said we want you to run for this particular position 
and I guess there might have been a few misgivings but anyhow, he 
did say he would run and was elected the first Marshal. 

JRK: Do you know how he came to Berkeley and to be a postman? 

Schmidt: I don t know where he came from or anything like that. He was a 
friend of my father as well and I didn t know this but my first 
contact with him personally was through a career day situation 
given by the Berkeley YMCA in conjunction with the high school. 
In your llth year they asked you what you were interested in and 
they would have one person from the career field for each two 
persons so I was the only one that said I was interested in police 
work and my sponsor at that time was Inspector Albert S.J. Woods 
who was sent up to talk to me. He got the impression that I was 
sincerely interested and said, "Why don t you drop down and talk 
this over with Chief Vollmer and I m sure he d be interested in 
you." I did and as usual the Chief said, "There s only one way 
to find out if you like it and that s to try it." "So, when you 
get through school, you may want to come over here and do some 
typing and this sort of thing," which I did. 

Then the man who finally became my father-in-law, Captain Lee, 
started teaching me fingerprints and photography and before I was 
18 years old, Lee suffered a very serious injury to his hand he 
nearly had his hand cut off at the wrist and there wasn t anybody 
to do photography and fingerprinting on the basis of latent dusting 
and this sort of thing which Captain Lee had shown me. I started 
doing it. Then I took an examination for the department and passed 
it and when I was 18 years old I was asked to be appointed to a 
position as clerk. I didn t have a badge or anything like that but 
I could carry a concealed weapon which I used when I went out on 
emergency calls. I was treated like a regular police officer and 
from then on I was Just like anybody who had access to the Chief. 
If you wanted to see the Chief, you could see him. 

JRH: You were given more patrolman-type duties? 

Schmidt: It was mostly clerical fingerprints, photography, records, etc. 

Then I finally went into the clerical division when I was twenty-one 
as a records clerk. I worked in nearly every division of the de 
partment with the exception of the budget. 

Schmidt: I suffered an in-service injury and the doctor suggested I go 
on the outside when I became a patrolman. I mention this injury 
because Vollner always saw to it that his men were well taken 
care of and we all respected him for it. There was a meeting 
with the City Manager and the City Attorney tnd the Chief said 
he wanted his men to know that they were going to be protected. 
If they should have to think for only two or three seconds if 
things are going to be all right or not, some life might be lost. 
It was important to myself and a lot of other men to know that the 
Chief would stand up for us in adverse situations and who would 
stand up for them when they were right. 

If it hadn t been for a man like Vollmer why I can remember two 
times when, in a normal police department, I j.robably would have 
been fired from the standpoint that I didn t do enough work. When 
the Chief read the supervisor s report he called me in and gave me 
the material he was given and I Just told him what I was doing and 
he knew enough about the Job to know that I was more than doing my 
work. He always wanted to get both sides of the story. To me, 
Vollmer was the kind of man that if you made a mistake this was 
all right, if it was a mistake that was the result of trying. He 
didn t want you to make the same mistake twice, but a mistake that 
was made sincerely is progress and he accepted it. because he was 
this way. If you ever went in to see him and vou d knock on the 
door and open it , he could tell by the look on your face that you 
had some sort of an idea and he d say, "Come in." If you had an 
idea he d say, "There s only one way to fin-i out, let s try it." 
After a certain period of time we d get together again and he d 
say, "How s it working out?" and he had the ability to know that 
the person who was working on it should have some ideas about how 
it should be fixed or whether it was a failure. Very seldom would 
he say no on something that was controversial without giving his 
point of view. 

JRH: So you were saying when you came in he would ask you what your 
ideas were? 

Schmidt: That s right. You could always discuss things with him. If you 

had something detrimental to say about somebody he d never let you 
say it unless the other person was present, which was my tendency 
and I ve always done this particular thing too. I think that all 
the men that worked with him felt this way. I would say that he 
was very strong on seeing the adaptability of certain things to 
police service and the ability to know the abilities and interests 
of other people, with the result that he would have a kind of pro 
tective covenant toward a person who was working on something in 
the area of police work. 

For example, Captain Clarence D. Lee who was a friend of Vollmer s 
before he (Lee) came to work for the police department, came here 
because of the big fire in Can Francisco. Captain Lee was the 
Secretary of the SiW Food Company and he had a number of children 

Schmidt : to support , so after the fire he needed a job and Vollmer asked 
bin to come to work in the Berkeley Police Department. I don t 
know whether he knew that Lee would be able to bring business 
principles to the department, but this was the very start of 
business principles being applied in police work. Captain Lee 
started a records division index cards, cross filing, if you 
please. This was done by Captain Lee in various areas so that it 
improved police service. You could go in and look up the number 
of a watch that had been stolen. It was Just purely business 

The Berkeley Police Department was one of the first police depart 
ments, with Oakland, that started fingerprints. Captain Lee did 
this, but Vollmer was there and they were working together and 
there was a lot of teamwork. The modus operand! that came from 
Llewelyn Atcherly in England was gone over by Captain Lee and 
Vollmer and they came up with Vollmer s system of M.O. which was 
the same as Atcherly s with the exception of two points. These 
two which were left out of the sequence of the English version: 
Pal and Tale Told. In other words, to be able to connect a crime 
that had had an object of attack, place of attack, instrument of 
entry, point of entry. The English vent a little further than they 
did here from the standpoint that the pal you were with might indi 
cate who you were. In other words, if you and I worked together and 
we were safe (lock-box) persons and if you were found in the prox 
imity of it , then they could start looking for me if they knew you 
and I were pals. This was recorded in record procedure. The tale 
told would be if you were surprised, what your alibi was to be. It 
was the thinking that on the basis of being surprised you would more 
or less go into your subconscious or some background of experience 
that you had so that you could talk about it. So they would be 
able to identify the person. The two items of sequence, i.e., 
"Pal and Tale Told," were to be covered under an area listed as 
"Trademark" in the Vollmer concept or revision. "Trademark" items 
of the Vollmer M.O. System were to cover peculiarities related to 
the perpetrator and not necessarily related to the res gestae or 
the statutory requirements of the crime or offense. In handwriting, 
Captain Lee became interested in handwriting on the basis of its use 
in forgeries, bad checks, etc. He wrote one of the first books, 
with Ronald Abbey of the Berkeley Police Department on the classifi 
cation and identification of handwriting. All with Vollmer there 
and helping. 

The use of the lie detector which was first brought to the attention 
of the Chief by Leonard Keeler. It had a metal camber on it and 
Captain Lee invented one that had a pressure cylinder that ran on 
the basis of rubber so that the heat contraction and expansion during 
the run of the machine did not have as much of a problem as it did 
with camber at that time. Any idea a person had, Vollmer would 
encourage you and never belittle you. At least I never knew of an 
instance where he belittled anybody. He would say there are a lot 
of unsung heroes in the police service that he got credit for be 
cause he was the head of it; it s Just like a General taking a 

Schmidt: citation for his group. 

Now there s one thing that Vollmer s given credit for and it was 
written up in the Elk s magazine and he would have been the first 
person to say that he was not responsible for, and it was on the 
Junior Traffic Police. Now this is more or less recognized all 
over the country. When Vollmer was in Los Angeles and an interim 
Chief of Police, Captain Lee was the Acting Chief here and they 
evidently were experiencing accidents in the school areas here. 
They were having problems of traffic and Captain Lee had read in the 
paper or heard about something that they were doing in San 
Francisco, so he called up San Francisco to inquire about it and 
he knew the person personally. The fellow told him what they were 
doing over there and Lee said, "Well, we re going to try it here 
too," and they did and they put Officer Bert Fraier in charge of 
the thing and that s how it grew. 


Schmidt : 

People have told me that Vollmer started it. 
that Vollmer had started it. 

General Dean mentioned 

No, this is not true. As a matter of fact, I m going to see 
Captain Lee tomorrow and I m going to ask him and he ll know the 
name of the person. But it was operating over in San Francisco. 
Now San Francisco didn t follow it up, as I understand, with 
the result that it was enhanced here with signs that would come out 
over the street. They didn t have the Junior Traffic Police getting 
out into the street where they d stand and put the stop sign out. 
They eventually had a barrier that was operated with a handle that 
was on a standard that would swing out over the line of traffic 
above the top of the automobiles. This was the first part of the 
Junior Traffic Police. 

The studies that were made in the records division led to the 
sequence of the describing of a person on the fingerprint cards 
which is more or less standard procedure particularly in the State 
of California and that is: the hair, eyes, height, weight, and age. 
Over a period of years they made a study of what a person would 
recognize first on another individual. The most points went to 
hair, and then eyes, height, weight and age. That s the reason why 
they would put it in that sequence and it was very helpful because 
when you were talking to a citizen, when you started at the head 
of the list and got to the end, you knew that you d gone through 
the whole thing, rather than in haste, and in the problems of 
making an investigation you overlook a lot of things if you don t 
have a set routine. Set routines can be dangerous too. If you go 
in with a preconceived idea about what you re going to see then 
you re. .. .For example, if I lose my knife and you help me find it, 
you re going to pick up other objects money and that sort of 
thing that I won t pick up and won t necessarily perceive and 
I ll say I Just went by that place and you re finding all that sort 
of stuff and it s because I know what I m looking for with a 
conditioning and your mind is still receptive. 

Schmidt: My wife and I ve been on picnics with Vollmer; went to dances 

with him and his wife; been to his home and had dinner with him 
and he was Just a personal friend. One thing to me that gave 
him his philosophical outlook on life would be from the stand 
point that I think that I was at his place the night before his 
death and we had been talking that afternoon. And usually at the 
end of a gabfest (as he called them) if we vere going to have 
dinner or leave one another, why he had a kind of a ritual where 
we would go up to the kitchen and have a cocktail and he was the 
only one who knew how to make this kind of a cocktail. And this 
particular evening about 6 o clock, he climbed up to the top of 
his cupboard in the kitchen and got down his favorites and put 
them in a glass and then he said, "Now walk over there and open 
that drawer (since he had palsy) and I opened the drawer and he 
said, "that little spoon in there, put that in the glass for me, 
would you." I put it in the glass for him and he took hold of 
it and he said, "Well, the Lord gave me this affliction, but it s 
the best stirring action I ever had." Right up to the end he 
was philosophical; not regrettable about it, at least from his 
outside appearance. At this time, as a suggestion, Mrs. Miller, 
his housekeeper might be a person to interview. 

JRH: Do you know where she is now? 

Schmidt: It s my understanding that when he died he gave her the house. 
She was a very fine woman and she dearly loved the Chief and he 
liked her too. She Just took care of him "wonderfully and I dare 
say that that was the one person who had more insight than 
anybody else, because in his last days he suffered extreme pain, 
so he told me. He said it was one of thesi* things. Not being 
able to get in and out of bed by himself. 

JRH: He outlived his wife. 

Schmidt: Yes. But he had two wives. I think the first one s name was 

tydia Sturdivant. I was told she was a very fine vocalist. The 
other one we called Pat and she was a very fine woman and a wife 
and pal to the Chief. As a matter of fact, there were Just 
hundreds of people that used to visit the Chief that he would 
give information to and discuss and who he helped. He helped me 
and nearly everybody that he touched. His wife started an organi 
zation that she called the "V-Men." We didn t know who all were 
in it because it was a kind of thing between the two of them, 
where she would give you this little gold V and that was to say, 
"Well, you re a Vollaer man now. You can be trusted and you re 
honest and you re a professional policeman." I used to discuss 
with the Chief the difference between a law enforcement man and 
a policeman and this is particularly true when we got closer to 
the era we re in now and I believe that there is a decided dif 
ference between a law enforcement man and a policeman. 

JRh: In what sense? 

Schmidt : The law enforcement man is a person who has had to use the area 
of selective neglect from the police field. The police field is 
a very broad thing. Service ideal is one of the things important 
to people. More and more demands are made by the public and with 
the less money we have to work with, we have to find the areas of 
neglect on a priority basis, so I call it selective neglect, with 
the result that we come down to the particular situation now that 
instead of an on view arrest, which is an arrest made by an officer 
out on the beat, we re so busy rendering work to a call, as a 
result of a citizen s call, you very seldom ever see a pedestrial 
patrolman. When I used to check my doors on Shattuck Avenue, 
people would smile and say, "Good evening, officer" and if you see 
a man walking the street now in uniform, people turn around to look 
and perhaps follow him to see what s doing. This has done some 
thing to the heart of our community. We have two officers together 
now for mutual protection and we have lost the contact with the 
public because even in a confessional you re alone with a person 
so how would you want to give some information that would be con 
sidered confidential where there s two people together. This is 
an area of selective neglect in police service, with the result 
that the farther we get away from that, the more we are Just law 
enforcement, which would be bad. Vollmer might have had an answer 
to some of this or he would have found somebody who had an idea 
and back him up. 

There was a time when the business people of Berkeley were up in 
arms about the parking situation: whether they should park parallel 
or diagonal. It was a very serious situation from the standpoint 
of the Chief because the traffic engineer said we park this way 
because it s safer and they ve painted it this way. The business 
men came down to City Hall and instead of Vollmer getting mad and 
saying we know what we re doing, he said, "Gentlemen, what do you 
want?" They said they wanted a certain situation and he said, "Let s 
try it . " They tried it and came back in three or four months and 
said, "you re right, change it the other way." 

In my administration when a man got into trouble or got the depart 
ment into trouble and it was an honest mistake, ask him first, how 
did he think we could get out of it and ninety-nine times out of 
one hundred a person that has gotten into trouble knows a way out 
of it if it s Just a mistake of progress. This is Just an off sprout 
of Vollmer "s philosophy that I Just said in a different way. Ke d 
say, well, let s try it, and at least this gave him time enough to 
think in case you didn t have the right answer. 

Vollmer was a good swimmer. He used to swim up at Putah Creek 
while pickni eking. We would go up there with Captain Lee and his 
family. I used to go to the same school with Marjorie Lee long 
before she became my wife, but I didn t know she was related to 

Schmidt : 

Bob Lee who was a longtime friend of mine. When I was working 
at the Berkeley Police Department we had an assist case for 
Contra Costa County on an accidental death that proved to be a 
murder out in Walnut Creek the Schwartz murder case and I 
was only about 16 or 17 years old and we were going out to make 
an investigation of that particular case and Captain Lee was going 
out at night to make his investigation. He took me over to his 
place for dinner and that s when I found out that Marjie was the 

sister of this fellow I went with, 
related to Captain Lee. 

So that s how I started to get 

Incidentally, the clue that brought it to a head that this was a 
murder out there rather than a suicide or an accident was due to 
the fact of the application of Bertillon from the standpoint of 
the picture that was enlarged compared to one taken of the corpse. 
In other words, the head profile (badly burned) of the corpse was 
taken on an original 8 x 10 plate and it was nearly life size. 
There was another small picture of a group and It had pictures of 
the heads about an l/8th of an inch high, one known to be Schwartz. 
We photographed and enlarged the "exemplar head" to the same size 
as the 8 x 10 plate and in the profile view we found that it was 
not Schwartz that was dead; that Schwartz had a straight nose and 
the one of the corpse was concave. The septum was all gone in the 
corpse so this is when they started making a further inquiry and 
found out where Schwartz was staying. Schwartz was a scientist and 
had done work for the Berkeley Police Department in scientific 
evidence. He had insurance for his wife and had a paramour in 
Oakland. Schwartz murdered a tramp of his general size and used 
the body in a set up to make it appear that an explosion and fire 
accidently took place in his laboratory, he being killed in the 
explosion. Thus Schwartz would be mourned by his wife but he would 
be able to live out his life with his paramour under a pseudonym. 
Captain Lee and Ralph Pidgeon who was a Sergeant of Berkeley Police 
at the time and some Oakland policemen went down to his place of 
abode in Oakland but he shot himself before they could get in to 
him and make an arrest. 

Vollmer was quite a music and song man. He loved to play the guitar. 
I used to play the accordian and Captain Lee played the banjo. 
Vollmer played with a zest and he seemed to be a very versatile 
man in all of his pursuits. We all dearly loved him. It might seem 
as though we re prejudiced well, if it s prejudice that s all 
right as far as I m concerned because he was a very fine person. 

JRH: I haven t found anyone who disliked him. 

Schmidt : He would be the first one to admit and the one who would have it 
straightened out that he took many a citation because it belonged 
to the group. He always gave you credit. 


JRH: Do you remember any of the picnics or parties with him? 

Schmidt: He was Just like anybody else. When he was on a picnic he wasn t 
the Chief, he was Just people. I wouldn t call it relaxed, but 
it would be Just like either you or me on a picnic. This situa 
tion of bowing to him because he was the Chief never entered your 

It has been a wonder to a lot of us as to the reason why Vollmer 
did not drive an automobile. His wife Pat always drove for him 
and he was a pretty good steerer at times, I understand. I Know 
one rather unusual anecdote about the Chief; it was during the 
pioneering stages of the boulevard stop signs. They were being 
concerned with color and shape. Now to you at your age you ve 
accepted them as a standard thing, but at the very start of this 
thing there was a question as to whether they should be triangular, 
square or octagonal; what would be the most visible color. They 
went to the scientists to find out whether green or yellow or red 
would be. They had installed a sign at Bancroft and Telegraph 
Avenue where they were making a study to find out the number of 
people that noticed the sign and stopped as compared to signs 
elsewhere which were a different type and shape and things like 
that. Officer Clarence Taylor, who was in charge of the traffic 
division, was driving the Chief down Bancroft Way and he (Taylor) 
was saying, "Now I think that s about the best sign we ve got." 
Well, they stopped about where the campus theater was, which was 
about a half a block below Telegraph Avenue and he said, "Chief, 
you know what we Jut did?" Vollmer said "What?" and Taylor said, 
"We were talking about that stop sign and we went through it I" 
Vollmer told me this a number of times because it gave him an idea 
about how people can violate laws unknowingly with the result that 
he didn t get mad at anybody when they went through a boulevard 
stop sign because it happened to him. 

I think it was the philosophy of all of us that we might hate the 
transgression but not the transgressor. We all were brought up on 
his philosophy and part of it was that if we had a case with you 
now, it was forgotten on the next case. I think he realized that 
if there was any man from his department who was resentful or was 
the type of person who thought, well, while I won t be able to get 
him to court, he s going to have to stay in Jail overnight. Vollmer 
wouldn t stand for any of this. None of us would. If you fired 
your gun you would have to get up before the whole group on the 
Friday Crab Club hour and give the factors of what happened and 
then there was a decision made by the men from the standpoint of 
this way or this way; right or wrong. No matter how you fired the 
gun or why you had to fire it; even if it was an injured dog or 
something like that. This was a part of the training, responsibility 
for firing a firearm. This might of saved some people s lives, but 
of course, it might have cost a policeman his life. 

JRH: Hov often did he have these Friday meetings? 

Schmidt: Every Friday for an hour between U and 5 p.m. with the exception 
of during the summers when we would be going to school for three 
months every Friday. The whole department went. 

JRH: Who set up these training sessions? 

Schmidt: The Chief, on the basis of what they called the "Crab Club." For 
instance, if you had anything against any man in the department 
you said it right there in front of him and after it was over it 
was forgotten; you didn t go out and squawk about the man or 
degrade somebody in the department or say anything about him. As 
a result, in the summertime, they would have people like 
Dr. Hubert N. Rowell who was very interested in sex cases and the 
insanities. Dr. Juan Don Ball who was a psychiatrist; Dr. Stanley 
who was over at San Quentin and wrote a book not too long ago about 
the criminals in San Quentin, many others aluo. Vollmer would 
nearly every day go to the Jail and talk to all the people in the 
Jail. He was able to have people who were criminals come in and 
lecture and tell us as to how they committed their crime. One in 
particular I remember was called Frisco Billy and he was reputed 
to be the best safe man in the country. He came in and told us 
how he was able to open these safes and get around the police. 
Vollmer was capable of convincing these people they ought to do 
these lectures. 

JRH: Dean Chernin told me Vollmer taught him how to crack a safe and 
also how to forge. 

Schmidt : As a matter of fact , when Billy was lecturing to us we had a safe 
blown up at Friedman Paint Company and a number of us stayed up 
there overnight because the person in the American Grill had seen 
people on top of the roof and told them to get off and they got off. 
We thought they were going to come back there again to blow the 
safe up so we waited all that weekend and Monday morning when the 
paint store openedup they said "Hey, our safe has been blown open." 
What had happened, the persons knew their business so well they 
wrapped the safe and they used a technique with nitroglycerin I 
don t know whether you re interested in this sort of thing. 

JRH: Yes. 

Schmidt: They put paper in the crack of the safe at the top (cigarette 

paper) and puttied all the sides and the bottom with octagen soap 
and they poured the nitro on top of the paper and let it seep down 
and when it started to come down to the bottom where a small opening 
was left, they knew how much they had to have and they d stop that 
up, put the igniter at the top and then they wrapped the whole safe 
with a bunch of cloths drop cloths and wallpaper and when it 
went off there was Just a "wuff." Just took the door off to a 
place about that far (l/8th inch as shown by spacing between thumb 
and index finger). You could then Just fores it open about an 


Schmidt: l/8th of an inch. Jimmy was giving this lecture while they were 

knocking off the safe and we never did prove who did it. I got in 
on a lot of these so-called stakeouts because that time I didn t 
smoke and in many places where you had to be in buildings under 
construction, where people were throwing creosote to cause damage 
or people were stealing out of stores at night and you didn t know 
who it was -- the fact that I didn t smoke didn t bother me when 
I had to be in a place for eight hours and where if they had another 
man who usually smoked he would have to refrain because the scent 
of smoke would betray him. The fact that I was working for two 
years without pay between the age of 16 and 18, (I was in every 
division) doing work for them, working at night with a patrolman 
and things like that, I could go where I wanted to or where they 
wanted me and the experience I got was wonderful. This could have 
never happened in any other department except that Vollmer said this 
is what you can do. I went to him one time and he could tell from 
the frown on my face that something was wrong. He asked me what 
was the matter and I said, "Chief, you told me to find out if I 
wanted to be a policeman and I said I didn t think I could do 
this sort of thing." He said, "What s the matter T" and I said, 
"I m sick to my stomach because I Just locked up a man." It was 
the first person that I had ever locked up and I was about 16 or 
17 years old. He said, "Well, now, this is the type of person we 
like to get in police work." If you had any part in you that was 
resentful or you kept anything against anybody, he didn t want you 
in the Department. He was a humanitarian. You didn t hit anybody 
except in defense of yourself; you didn t abuse anybody; you 
treated a lady as a lady regardless of her walk in life. 

JRH: People say he was very much against giving the third degree tactics 
or getting confessions. 

Schmidt: Absolutely. I don t like to use confessions because that had con 
notations of abuse. I like to say the person made a statement 
admitting his guilt. You didn t do this. If you hit anybody or 
anything like that you were through. There was no second time and 
you were told about it beforehand. He didn t want you to Just stand 
there and get beaten up, but we all had the theory that you were a 
poor policeman if you couldn t keep your temper if a drunk cussed 
you out. This was one of the personality traits he wanted. 

The offenders of the law had respect for the Department. For 
example, I remember the time on the West Berkeley beat, we had a 
fellow who had been arrested for burglary, iudecent exposure, 
forgery, and was a problem. I told him to leave the corner down 
there one night because he was pretty drunk. I said, "Spot, get 
off the corner because you re looking like the dickens." He said, 
"All right," and I came back about 15 minutes later and he still 
was there. I said, "Spot, what did I tell you?" He said, "For me 
to leave the corner," and I said, "Now what do you think I ought 
to do with you?" and he said, "Lock me up." So I went over to the 
box to call for the wagon to come and lock him up and at that time 


Schmidt: the steady light cane on. The red light that hangs out in the 
middle of the street and they have a way of signaling you. In 
other words, if your number was 26, it would flash twice and then 
a short time lapse and six times followed by a long time lapse, 
and when it came on steady this meant an emergency and all the 
police all over town were supposed to find out what was doing. 

Just about the time I was to hit the box the steady light came on 
and I answered and was told there was a fight at the Mexican 
section house. It would be better to stop a fight where someone 
might get killed than bring in a drunk so I reached in my pocket 
(I didn t tell the Sergeant about "Spot") and I got a dime and 
said, "Here, Spot, take the streetcar and turn yourself in." So 
he tells the Sergeant what I said and he did it. Most of Berkeley 
offenders thought the world of Vollmer. He knew Vollmer and 
Vollmer knew Spot and it was because he used to visit the Jail Just 
about every morning and talk to the people rfho were in there and 
see if they had been treated well. He might arrest you, but by 
gosh you were treated like a gentleman. This was part of all of 
us. Not because of the Chief but because he only kept people who 
believed in this. 

JRH: Were there other things he didn t tolerate besides the third degree? 

Schmidt: Dishonesty fromthe standpoint of taking something that didn t belong 
to you. For example, bringing in a drunk and taking the money out 
of his pocket and saying he didn t have it because he s drunk and 
doesn t know how much money he s got. I wouldn t doubt but what 
there were times that he would have people do this, not so much to 
find out whether or not we were dishonest, but to be able to 
defend us when someone accused us, and there s a difference there. 
At least I feel this way about it. When I was a patrolman if 
someone made accusations about us the first thing we d do was call 
in our Sergeants to defend us. Our Sergeants were not "snooper- 
visors" they were supervisors. If we did have a snoopervisor, he 
didn t last long under the Chief. I don t say that it was hard 
to get that type of man in Berkeley at that time because Berkeley 
was a town with a lot of good citizens during Vollmer s regime 
here and later. 

At one time I know Berkeley had the highest drunk rate of any town 
inthe United States. This was a result of the fact that anytime 
anyone was drunk, there were three or four citizens who would call 
up. But there are other towns I could name that if they happened 
to see a drunk in the gutter they d say, "Well, he s been out." 
On the second day if he was still there they d say, "I wonder if 
he s got any money," then on the third day when the flies were in 
and out of his mouth and he was bloated they d say, "Hey, I wonder 
if he s dead." There were different people here. Prostitution 
you wouldn t have an arrest for prostitution here once in three or 
four years. We only had about two murders when I was in the 
department. I don t know whether two wanted fellows are still 
alive: Louis Guerrerra and Feliz Maldinado. The type of people we 
had in Berkeley had a part in the Vollmer story. 


Schmidt : 

Schmidt : 


Schmidt : 

That s an interesting part that no one has talked about before. 

It would be interesting to go back to the newspapers of the time 
he was here to find the headlines of some of the cases which 
were headlines three inches high and now are on the second page. 
For example, now I read in the paper where a man s head was blown 
off and there s a byline only about a quarter of an inch high and 
it s about three inches long on the first page and two inches on 
the next and they say there were narcotics there and no more than 
usual. Why, narcotics arrests in Berkeley when I was a police 
officer and when Vollmer was here were unusual, which indicated 
the type of people we had. 

Why do you think Berkeley had such different kinds of people than 
other communities? 

Well, this gets into a lot of sociological situations, 

Compared to, say Emeryville or Oakland at that time. 


I might explain it this way. When you talh to people about 
personnel, if you have 90/1 of your people in an organization that 
are tops, they re in a position to boost the poor ones out. Much 
like the PGfcE. If they get a bummer, they Just don t belong. And 
so when we started getting that percentage down here to the 60 s 
and 70 s, then your good people leave because they re rather 
inclined not to want to upset anybody. Or they give in easier 
and pretty soon you have the ones who are economic cowards: 
close to pension, their wife is sick or the roots are so far down 
that they re scared to do anything. To me, I hear an awful lot 
about Berkeley but I ve been in Berkeley for two days and I ve 
had more "Hello" and "How are you" from the Black people and other 
people haven t even waved. People are Just scared to say hello. 
This makes police work harder. The policemen at that time were 
known as individuals because we were a small community. There was 
a time when they were recognized taking their children to church 
and knew that the policeman was a human being. 

Did they tend to live in the community in those days? 
Always did. 

There was a time when I was an Acting Sergeant I was never a 
Sergeant. I was an Acting Sergeant as a lot of us were. There 
were a number of misgivings about a number of us being Acting 
Sergeants when they had positions for five and they only filled 
the positions with two. We used to think the city was saving a 
lot of money and maybe they did, but it may also have been on the 
basis of a training program for us because even though I was an 
Acting Sergeant I learned an awful lot. We used to get together 
and divide the watch and if I was entitled to Sunday off we would 


Schmidt: agree among ourselves and if there were four denominations in 

that shift, that you could go to your church once in four times 
on a trade-day-off basis so that people could see you with your 
children and wife and that gives people a different outlook. 
You Just don t appreciate a person until you can realize that a 
policeman can cry when a member of his family is dead and that 
he hates to see an animal killed. In that respect, Pat O Keefe, 
who was a patrolman, had a dog he had to shoot and he held the 
dog s head in his hand out of pity and shot him in the head and 
put a bullet through his finger on the other side of the dog s 

JRH: How was Vollmer a part of the comnunity? 

Schmidt: First, when he was elected Marshal he had been a postal carrier 
and it s my understanding that he used to be the carrier for the 
other carriers that were off on vacation, sick leave, etc. with 
the result that he was known all over town and his service ideal 
in seeing to it that they got the letters with a hello and the 
personal contact with his customers was more than anybody else 
in town, so everybody knew him. I go back a long time because 
my family was the second family and had the first house in 
Berkeley. The Caustigan house was called the first but it was in 
Oakland on the other side of where the Claremont Hotel now stands. 
I don t think that there were more than 500 - 1,000 people here 
and when the University started here the town grew. We had 
college professors living here, we had business people from San 
Francisco living here. It was a different type of an economy. 

JRH: Was there any industry at that time? 

Schmidt : Oh yes . In fact there was a lot of sqawking about the Ford 

Motor Company which they did not let put their plant here, but 
Ford put it in Richmond instead. They let the Heinz Pickl* Works 
put their factory up here. This sort of thing was a terrific 
impact in Berkeley. They aroused the public on this, but now they 
could care less. Whether this is good or bad I don t know. 
Berkeley was a cultural town, with family Sunday treks to the 
University of California grounds, the Greek Theatre for dramatics 
and musicals. The Parathania was enjoyed as an annual event by 
a tremendous audience. People picknicked on the University of 
California grounds with its beautiful landscaping and places of 
repose . 

They had a situation here where the business machines were first 
used in police work. The first machine that they had here was 
the old Powers. It had a round key punch hole and in discussing 
modus operand! with the person who came from the Powers Company, 
I mentioned to him one day that we did not have enough columns on 

Schmidt: the card to be able to take care of the modus operand! and the 
various aspects of the crimes and our cases. (They call it 
programming now.) He said they couldn t get any ore columns 
on the card and I said, "You can if you do away with the circles." 
He said, "What do you meant" I said, "With the clrclea you ve 
got one, two, three areas so if you move them over you have 
space in the central area and you ve picked up another position." 
He said, "My gosh," and that s where it started, the idea of 
having the parallelograms as we call them now instead of the 
round circles and I ll bet they still have the round punch cards 
here in the early records. The Hollerith machine came out and it 
still had the round and I don t know whether IBM started the 
parallel or not, but at least the idea originated in the Berkeley 
Police Department. 

JRH: Did you meet Vollmer as a child? 

Schmidt: I probably met him at the Elks Club because I used to go to the 
Elks Club with my Dad when I was a young squirt but I wouldn t 
have remembered him then. He and my father vere very close 
friends. They used to talk kind of Chinese mimicry to one another 
and had fun together but I was Just a little bit of a fellow. My 
very first personal contact with him was after I went to the YMCA 
career meeting. 

JRH: Why don t we talk about the crime busting thing with Warren? 

Schmidt: In this era, Prohibition, around 1928, bootlegging flourished in 

the Emeryville area. There was also some of it in the departments, 
although the major part of the department didn t have any part of 
it. Even in the Oakland Police Department there were arrests of 
some of their people who were in it. It got to the extent that 
if a policeman was standing in front of a certain establishment, 
that meant it was alright to go in there and gamble and drink your 
liquor. If he wasn t there don t go in. It was to the extent 
that if the District Attorney would call on the Department and say 
bring your men in to plan a raid, they knew they were going to have 
a raid. With the result that if the policeman wasn t standing in 
front of the place, he had been called in, which indicated that 
Earl Warren was going to pull a raid . In other words , let s say 
that we have a police department that is amenable to bootlegging. 
They knew when there was going to be a pending raid when they 
would get all the police officers from that department into the 
squad room to discuss who they were going to raid. So when the police 
man had to leave this area to go down and have this discussion, they 


Schmidt: would say there s going to be a raid and would be found sitting 
around playing dominoes. That s how bad it was. 

JRH: They had a pretty good alert system. 

Schmidt: That s right. A very good term. After they did make arrests 
there was nothing done on the basis of certain Judges. They 
had a select number of Judges so you would get search warrants 
and that sort of thing with the result that the cost of "knock 
ing" over these places started to become prohibitive. In 
gambling, which was the Olema Club, that was a place in Emeryville 
that had a square block and they ran buses to Sacramento, Stockton 
and San Francisco to bring people in there to gamble. They had 
a place that was highly secured from the standpoint that you had 
to go through two doors and these doors were never opened at the 
same time. You d go into a little room and then the other door 
would open up and lookouts would look at you as a "check out" from 
both sides. They had a complete automotive repair shop there so 
that if you had a hit and run car you could take your car in and 
for a certain sum it would be fixed up. Beautiful place inside 
seven safes to carry the money in and it was a big operation. 
That was in connection with prostitution as well as.... it was a 
wide open area. 

They would start to raid a place and they had the doors laminated 
with steel between them so it would be hard for you to bust 
through. We used to be able to get in with battering rams and 
axes, but then they made the entrances to the doorways with a 
slanting wall so that you couldn t swing your axe. You couldn t 
get around the corner with a battering ram; finally they got to 
the spot where they had opened the door and they would pour the 
liquor down the sink, with the result that they (the Investigators) 
went over and got enough alcohol content in sponges so that they 
were able to have a case. Then pretty soon the law enforcement 
officers started getting it out of the gooseneck under the sink 
where they dumped the liquor and then the bootleggers would take 
the gooseneck out and have it go into a straight pipe into the 
sewer where it couldn t be retrieved. The law enforcement people 
would get under the house at the time they weren t there and cut 
the pipes so that it would run down into a bucket and finally they 
got so they concreted this. This raiding group, under Earl Warren, 
and his assistant Charley Weir, was officiated by Capt. Helms; 
Oscar Jansen was the man under Capt. Helms and under Oscar Jansen 
he had a group of men named George Hard, Heningson, Chet Flint and 
two other people I don t recall now. They were the raiding people. 

JRH: Were they employed by the D.A. s office? 

Schmidt: They were investigators for the District Attorney. Just like they 
would be patrolmen in the police department. 

JRH: Mrs. Fry at Bancroft thought that at first he didn t have any paid 
staff. Do you know about that? 


Schmidt: This could have been before my time. 
JRH: At that time he did have how many men? 

Schmidt: Helms, Harry Piper Helms was Captain, then next in command vat 

Oscar Jansen, and then his men were Harry Piper, George Henningson, 
George Hard, Chet Flint and another fellow. Those were the persons 
I worked with and also there would be times when Warren would ask 
for 25 or 30 men from the Berkeley Police Department to go down 
there. They would Just start "knocking" over the places. I 
remember ve got into one place one time and Officer Harstad from 
the Berkeley Police Department had to shoot *.t a fellow because he 
was shot at when he went into the place that was being raided. 

They got an idea that they would take photographs of these places. 
We d gotten to the particular spot and we d know how these houses 
were built and we d get up in the attic and walk across where we 
thought we would be in the barroom and you d Jump up in the air and 
put your hands over your face and fall down into the room and be 
able to grab the bottles of liquor before they got rid of them. 
The bar and the place where they had the liquor would be below. It 
was plaster up there and it would support a person so you would 
walk on the ceiling Joists and Just come down through the plaster 
but you wouldn t know whether you would hit F. chair or fall on top 
of somebody or whatever it would be. I would take pictures. I 
would come down sometimes and others would too. 

JRH: With the camera? 

Schmidt: Oh no. The camera was too big and heavy. Big 8 x 10 view camera. 
The camera was brought in after the initial raid. You had to be 
very selectful in the pictures you took because in those times we 
only had magnesium flashes and you couldn t take more than two or 
three pictures because of the flash smoke in the room would obliter 
ate the scene. From then on we started taking pictures and in all 
these places they vere having trouble with, they were able to abate. 
They didn t have to call any witnesses because Warren produced 
these pictures in court and what could the Judges do but convict. 

JRH: That s how you came into it? 

Schmidt: Yes. And that s how I knew about Earl Warren and how he started 
from the standpoint of a gangbuster plus the fact that he made 
investigations and arrested the Sheriff of Alameda County. 

JRH: Sheriff Becker is a name I m supposed to ask you about. 

Schmidt: Yes, Becker and a Captain of the Highway Patrol. They were sent 

to San Quentin and were convicted on the basis of a paving scandal. 
I forget the name of the Captain of the Highway Patrol. The 
scandal had to do with the buying of rights of way and getting too 
much money for the paving of some of the streets in Alameda County, 
as I recall. 


Schmidt : There were situations where I happened to be in Oakland and 

sometimes I would go to the dance hall in Oakland and the Chief 
knev that I was going there. Through those people there I was 
able to affect more arrests on felony arrest warrants than any 
of the other fellows put together because I got to know the girls 
and they got to know me and they didn t know that I was a police 

I found out that they had some rather large stills in Oakland. 
This involved a number of Oakland police officers. Through 
Earl Warren they were "knocked over" and I did something there 
that I shouldn t have done and I didn t find out that I had done 
wrong until I got into a chemistry class about 15 years later 
when I retired and went to San Jose State. With all the alcohol 
fumes I thought that when I set off the flash that it would ignite 
the alcohol fumes but I found out later that alcohol will not 
ignite that way and we broke out all the windows out of the house 
without the need to. 

These alcohol raids in connection with Earl Warren didn t last 
Just one or two days; it went on for months. When we would go 
into a house that was a two-story house, there would be nothing 
but five gallon cans of alcohol and you would arrest the man that 
was there and it would take the rest of the night to break the 
alcohol out of the cans. You d have to hit Jt at least six times 
on all sides and on the top and bottom. I remember oae particular 
night when Oscar Jan sen and Helms thought we were going to be in 
a lot of trouble because there was so much alcohol that was in one 
house and it came out in the back yard and flowed out the driveway 
into the gutter and started flowing down the gutter and about three 
blocks away a person threw a match in it and it started coming up 
the street and putting water and alcohol together and it takes an 
awful lot of water to saturate the alcohol to the point where it 
won t catch on fire. It got right out to the front of the house 
and into the driveway before we were able to get it out. These 
raids took a period of a year or so with the result of the 
notoriety and what Warren stood for that he was a champion of 
the cause of good citizenship and law and order. 

JRH: I d like to hear how you got detailed into this raiding group. 

Schmidt : I was in photography and other places where they had a photographer 
they would have to tell him ahead and they were scared to tell 
anybody else because they didn t know who they could trust. Most 
of the people they could trust were at the Berkeley Police 
Department. Vollmer and Warren were close friends. There was a 
period of time when all the new Deputies came to Berkeley as Deputy 
District Attorneys because of the fact that the Berkeley Police 
Department had so much training that it helped those people learn 
the ropes from the standpoint of dealing with honest policemen. 
Now I m not saying that other police departments were dishonest, but 
the reputation was that anybody who was working for Vollmer could 
be counted on where in some other instances they might not know for 


Schmidt : That was the beginning of the Warren and Vollaer coabination and 
my first contact with the raiding group. lie knows me and one 
tine I gave his name as a reference. This was the time when I 
got a Job with the government and I was in charge of policing the 
Japanese camps after the evacuation and I was in a riot in Tule 
Lake when a personnel investigator came up and said you re in 
trouble. I asked him what was the natter and he said I have the 
name of Earl Warren as a reference in your 57 Form and we went 
down to see him and he says he doesn t know you. I said well 
maybe he s like everybody else no one knows my name as Willard, 
they all knew me by my nickname "Huck" and maybe he only knows me 
by "Huck." So he saw me about four months later and he said he 
went to see the Governor again and when he said "Huck Schmidt" 
the Governor said, "Of course, I didn t know him by Willard." 

Earl Warren had a wonderful memory for names and faces. He had 
the ability to remember faces and connect them and was like an 
old Bertillon man. There for a long time when they wanted someone 
on the basis of a circular or photograph that they would use the 
Bertillon man of the department to go out and try to search for 
the man because they were concerned with earmarks and various 
measurements of the faces so that they were able to remember the 
things by attaching them to the individuals. Warren had a keen 
ability to remember names. 

JRH: I guess I misunderstood you over the phone when I talked to you. 
I thought you said you did something with cryptography or some 
thing like that. Did you mean photography? 

Schmidt: No, cryptography was Captain Lee. That was analyzing secret 

writing on the basis of frequency of items that you re able to 
decode and that sort of thing. I ve done a little bit. Captain 
Lee was more interested in it and so was Vollmer. We would discuss 
these things even at a picnic as to whether it was a lot of 
hullabaloo or whether it was something you could feel sure that 
you could say a person did commit a crime on the basis of this 
cryptoanalysis. At that time we all" agreed that we wouldn t want 
to put ourselves in that position. 

JRH: Do you know of any other ways in which Vollmer and Warren worked 

Schmidt: Oh yes. Vollmer would know what Warren was doing because Warren 
was using Vollmer s men. 

JRH: On these raids and in other things? 

Schmidt: That s right. When they needed more than four people. For 

example, with the Olema Club, I d say there were close to UO police 
officers there one night. We arrested about 200 people in an 
evening. Those people were even brought from the Olema Club in 
Emeryville up in our Patrol Wagon, what we called the "Pike Wagon" 
or the Black Maria and they d put so many in there at one time the 


Schmidt ; 



Schmidt : 




Schmidt : 

front wheels came off the ground and it couldn t be driven. 
They d have to take people and put them up in front or take them 
off the rear because there was so much overhang in back of the 
rear wheels that excessive weight raised the front. 

How come they could put them in the Berkeley Jail if it happened 
in Emeryville? Wasn t there a question of Jurisdiction? 

Well, this could have been a technicality and I didn t know any 
thing about it. I do know we had the prostitutes from down there. 
There was some technical way Mr. Warren knew that this could be 
taken care of. Maybe their Judges weren t available at that 
particular time. It might have been that it was the Volstead Act 
and it wasn t an ordinance. It had to be legal otherwise Warren 
wouldn t have done it . 

Did his staff get larger? 

I never knew of his staff getting any larger than the ones I knew. 
Piper was in charge of homicides and when he left they had to get 
several people in to replace him. How large it got I don t know. 
Harry Piper was a homicide investigator and incidentally he got 
with Earl Warren through Vollmer because Piper was injured in 
World War I and it was on the basis of rehabilitation that he came 
to work as a fingerprint person in the Berkeley Police Department 
and he was very small and could never have passed the physical 
height requirement in any police department. He was a real bang-up 
police investigator. A human dynamo. He had an oriental look 
and dark hair; he wasn t an oriental but he could have done some 
very good undercover work too. I don t know if he ever did. You 
see, Emeryville was a manufacturing town and it wasn t very much 
residential with the result that this could never have happened 
in a town like Berkeley because it had different people. 

Do you remember Chester Flint? I gather he was on the police force 
when you were. Is that right? 

He was in the Alameda County District Attorney s Office. 

Do you still know him or do you remember what he was like then? 

Sure. I remember what he was like then and he s still the sc 
and his son is Just about like him. He was a hard working law 
enforcement man and he s a lot older than I am and working with 
that type of person too, when I was 17 and 18 years old, his service 
ideals kind of rubbed off on me. They were (Warren s men) always 
perfect gentlemen and never abused anybody. You knew where you 
stood with them. I remember when we opened the Olema Club which 
was a place where you could take all the money to hold as evidence. 
With all of us trying to get in they were able to take some of 
the money from the gambling tables, of which there were 15 to 25, 
and they d put the money in a safe, with the result that Oscar 
Jansen told the head man who was there to open the safe. He said 


Schmidt: no, the boss had the combination and I don t Know it. So I asked 
Oscar if he wanted the safe opened and he said yes and I said 
"Well, I can do it for you," and he said, "Go ahead." I went to 
the machine shop and got a sledge hammer and a drift pin and 
knocked off the combination and drifted the pin inside of it and 
opened the safe and showed the money. If you had lectures given 
to you by experts right in your own department you could remember 
those things. Vollmer would ask somebody to give a lecture and 
we d all be there Uo to 50 of us. 

JRH: Did you mention Lloyd Jester as being one of the men who was an 

Schmidt: Jester; the Jester I knew was the Chief of Police in Albany. But 
Lester was the fellow who was with the California Adult Authority. 
He at one time was a Deputy Chief in Los Angeles. 

JRH: This is a name they gave me to ask you about so it should have to 
do with Earl Warren. Lloyd Jester they say. 

Schmidt: Now that you mention it, there s a possibility that Jester might 
have worked as an investigator like Heningson and George Hard and 
Flint. From there he became Police Chief of Albany. 

JRH: But you don t know for sure about that? 

Schmidt: No. But as you mention it, I think he was one of the investigators 
in the District Attorney s Office and eventually went to Albany 
after Chief John Glavinovich retired. 

JRH: I interviewed his daughter. 

Schmidt: She knows an awful lot about Chief Vollmer. They worked together 
and I think both of them had a philosophy of fairness. In the 
Department as a police officer, I, as well as others, could put 
on reports "no publicity" and the newspaper people at that time 
would respect that. They would come to you and ask you why you 
wanted this and if they didn t think you had a good reason they d 
go to Vollmer and he d say, "Well, we can t do it." They had 
respect for each other and that was instilled by Vollmer and we 
worked together and if there was something we didn t agree upon 
on the basis of publicity, they d tell us about it but they respect 
ed our Judgment. This had a great deal to do with the success of 
the Berkeley Department because we had the Post Inquirer, the 
Examiner, who was Payne, and Soto was with the Post Inquirer and 
Rose Glavinovich was with the Tribune and I knew all of them and 
they knew me. 

I remember I had to kill a man one time and Rose talked to me about 
it the next day and said, "Now Huck, don t start puffing up over 
it. You had to do it but...." and she meant it too. I wasn t 
puffing up over it because it was an awful feeling. We used to say 


Schmidt: that Vollmer had high I.Q. for his men. You had to have a 
high I.Q. to get on the Job but you had to be dumb enough to 
see that you got scared two days after something happened. 

We used to check all of our alleys, all of our lights. And 
whether by inference or by talk we thought it was a disgrace to 
have a fire on our beat at nighttime that we didn t discover 
first and that someone else had called in. That s the feeling 
we had for our town s people that they had to be protected and 
it wasn t some dime novel attitude we had. It was a sincere 

JRH: One thing I m supposed to ask you is who did what part of these 

Schmidt: If you mean the Warren investigation they had their own 
undercover people. There would be times that we would make 
arrests in Berkeley, but on the basis of the attitude of the 
people at the time of their arrest, particularly if they were 
drunk. We would know almost for sure the outlet for that 
alcohol. If it was from a certain named person s place, we 
could anticipate fights a fighting personality; if it came 
from another source it would be a person who would pack up and 
depart. This was given back and forth so ve would know if there 
was an outlet. They made most of their own investigations and 
we d say that we had picked up another person from "Prop" (he 
used to be one of the persons who was a bootlegger at that time). 

JRH: They were clubs or Just stills? 

Schmidt: They were stills and outlets mostly in Emeryville. Some places had 
girls with the liquor; some places would have poolrooms with the 
liquor; some had dancing and liquor available; some places 
wouldn t let anybody in except men and there weren t Just one or 
two, there were many. 

JRH: So you could sort of guess where the person came from? 

Schmidt: Yes, because for instance, there was one place where they used to 
spike beer with ether and put heating wands in it. Much like you 
get a cup of coffee now and you have a little electrical thing 
you put in the cup to heat it. Well, these were big ones they put 
in great big containers of beer. Then they had places in Emeryville 
that we called "Speakeasies" where you had to know the name of an 
individual before you could get in and they had near beer and these 
college kids were going down there thinking that they were getting 
real beer when in fact it was Just near beer and the psychological 
conditioning aspects produced some funny antics with these people 
since they thought they were drunk. The investigations were made 
by people like Oscar Jansen and when they needed more people with 
which to help with the raid on a place, then they d call on us 
(the Berkeley Police Department ) or all they would ask for would be 


Schmidt: me as the photographer to take the pictures because this was all 
that they needed to prove the case. 

JRH: Vollmer was big on scientific techniques I guess. Did they use 
any other photography techniques? 

Schmidt: Not that I know of, other than investigational photography. 

JRH: A number of people have mentioned that Vollmer wasn t too much 

in favor of Prohibition but he went along with it because it was 
the law, but he wasn t sure it was a good law. Do you know 
anything about that? 

Schmidt: I never heard him express this one way or another. I did not 
know Vollmer well enough at that particular time to be in his 
house to know whether liquor was being served or whether he had 
any himself. I would think that he would try to uphold the law 
as well as he could because it was a question of this is the 
statute and it s my Job to enforce it. But he wasn t put on the 
spot so much here in Berkeley because the people here were busy 
working in San Francisco or Oakland or going to college and if 
they did anything concerning liquor, in most instances they did 
it away from home. Like the difference between an adolescent 
and an adult I would say that an adolescent will do something 
within the home environment but when he s an adult he doesn t 
do it at home, he does it someplace else. 

JRH: There weren t any speakeasies in Berkeley? 

Schmidt: I don t think there were any here because if there were they were 
knocked over. If you go over the record of prostitution it would 
show you wouldn t arrest a prostitute in Berkeley but once every 
three or four years. Thirty drunks a month and that was when we 
had the highest drunk rate because they were all being reported. 
Speakeasies for heaven s sake Vollmer had a system where 
each police officer would be in charge of his beat and you were 
considered the chief of your beat. If you had a case, you had the 
responsibility for that case and if somebody else came in and 
started to work on it (detectives) you could say "knock it off." 
Vollmer would put the responsibility on you with the result that 
if you had a man who moved into business, it was up to you in a 
few days to find out who he was and where the business was. You 
would find out if he left money on the premises. You wouldn t 
necessarily have to ask him specifically about these questions, 
but on the other hand, during your patrol duties you had to find 
out about what time they locked up. There were many times that 
you would be able to go to them and say now listen, you re hiding 
your money about 12 feet from the cash register. They d say how 
did you know that and it s a simple thing for a person that had 
the Berkeley training that when the girl is getting ready to close 
up there s a certain cadence, a certain number of steps, and she 
gets the money bag and disappears in the back. You can use the 
first one as a radii and this is simple. 


Schmidt: Your criminal element figure this out as well as ve did but 

the only thing they didn t know about is using alley cats. An 
alley cat is a lot better than a dog. When the cat comes out of 
an alley they always stop at the sidewalk where this alley opens 
and he ll look both ways and the person that is closest to him, 
whether it s two or three blocks away, he ll go in the opposite 
direction across the street. The enterprising officer gets on 
top of a building at various intervals and looks around and watches 
these alley cats. Another thing, if your alley cats are not in 
the alley when you go in to scare them out, then there was some 
body else there ahead of you to scare them out. Now if you thought 
that there was somebody in there and you had a chance to get 
another officer to help you, you did Just that. 

Vollmer never allowed anybody to be a hero. He had a theory 
that if a person is in there he sees two or more officers, he 
wants to give up and we don t have to shoot a criminal. Where 
if there s Just one person, he takes a chance in getting away. 
That s the reason we would march a person down the middle of the 
street. People would say you re crazy. Why don t you walk them 
down the sidewalk? He may see some brush, bushes or something 
else of like nature and think he can escape and I d have to shoot 
and I don t want to. Walking them down the middle of the street 
doesn t put them in the position of taking a chance in escaping. 
This would be the type of police work that was a part of the 
Berkeley Department. 

JRH: You ve given me a really good impression of most of it. I don t 
like to make too many comments because I m not taping my opinion. 

Schmidt: I don t know exactly what you want. 
JRH: This is fine. 

Schmidt: Now they d say, was Vollmer responsible for this type of police 
work and I don t know the answer to that. At least people who 
didn t feel this way weren t working for the Berkeley Police 
Department . 

JRH: I think I ve asked you most of what s on here. There are two 

more questions here. Do you know anything about the prosecution 
aspect which courts they prosecuted these raids or anything 
like that. Say like on this Chinese gambling did you bring 
them into the Berkeley Jail and were they prosecuted in Berkeley? 

Schmidt: Yes. For most of those people the fine was paid by the establish 
ment. In other words, they posted bail to be forfeited and never 
showed up for trial. 

JRH: How many people did you arrest? 


Schmidt: One particular night there must have been at least 200. (by a 
raiding party of some 30 or *0 men.) 

JRH: In the Chinese place? 

Schmidt: Yes. It vas almost a square block. It had a Chinese orchestra, 
a stage where they vould hare plays, the typical Chinese altar 
where they had stuffed bears and exotic figures and it vas 
beautiful. The District Attorney s Office didn t bring too many 
of the prostitutes into the Berkeley courts. The District Attorney 
vas most concerned vith the alcohol. There were instances vhere 
various people vere killed in Oakland and dumped in Qneryville. 
Prostitution vas prevalent all over: San Francisco, Oakland, but 
not in Alameda or Piedmont. But there again, Piedmont vas about 
the same as Berkeley vith the same type of people we had here. 
Alameda vas a comparatively clean town. 

JRH: Hov did they get clues on these places? 

Schmidt: If you see a certain type of person in a certain locality it is 
an indication that there s something doing there. For instance, 
as I vas on the outside working it ends up in a police system of 
thinking as a patrolman. I vas making a number of arrests on 
juveniles. Vollmer called me in like he vould any officer and 
said, "Huck, what are you doing on these cases? Hov do you find 
out about persons responsible for these cases?" I just said, 
"Well, this particular case you re talking about I used the den 
instinct. 1 " He said, "What do you mean?" I said "Well, if you 
have some young wolves, coyotes, dogs or kittens and they re 
avay from their net or den and you scare them they return to their 
den. Now if you come home and find that your house has been 
entered by a young child and you scared him, he d run home (his 
den) and all you d have to do after you had three or four of those 
cases is, they ran this way and that way and you could put an 
arrow on the routes and triangulate them and that s vhere it is." 
Then you go over there to the records division and check on the 
kids vho are living in the area. You go over there and check out 
the kids that are eating a lot of candy or other objects related 
to the cases. 

With this bootlegging business, sometimes the vives vould call in 
and talk about their husbands getting the stuff. In nearly every 
instance vhen you find a transgressor that the family has been a 
victim of him as veil. At least it vas in Berkeley at that time. 
In Berkeley those of us vho vere in police vork at that time 
to shov vhat type of people ve had ve d have clothes that vere 
outgrown by members of our families and you d go behind a store 
and you d find a kid there some night and you d think you had a 
burglar. You d ask him vhat he vas doing back there and he d say 
he vas getting stuff for his rabbit and you looked into his sack 
and you know rabbits don t eat tomatoes and oranges and that sort 
of food and you realized the kid was getting food to eat because 

Schmidt: he and his family were hungry. So you had contacts with the 
schoolteachers and you found out the number of people in the 
kid s family, their ages and that sort of thing. Everybody 
did it in the Berkeley Department and I don t know whether they 
still do or not but you d get a box of stuff, i.e. food and 
clothing, and you wouldn t go up and knock on the door and say 
here it is. You d put it on the front porch and leave it. 
And then there was the Mobilized Women in this town. That s a 
place in West Berkeley where I could Just give them a note and 
they would outfit a man or child from top to bottom: shoes, 
shave, bath, etc. Nothing else was ever said about it. 60 
when you have this type of people to work with you have a good 
department and good community relations. You have to be a 
creature of self-denial because a fireman can say I saved that 
person s house from burning down but a policeman can t say I 
saved that guy s son from going to San Quentin. Otherwise you 
would have undone the good you did. 

There s another thing in Berkeley that Vollmer had and that was 
what we called a "Night Lodger" any person could come in and 
ask for a night s lodging. He d be given two clean blankets 
and a place to sleep and a shower if he wanted it and shave and 
a good ham and egg breakfast in the morning and we d turn him 
loose. It made no difference whether he was a prior burglar 
or robber or whatever. He was fingerprinted, but the criminal 
element had a respect for Vollmer and his men. The Chief was 
a humanitarian. 


INDEX Willard Schmidt 

Abbey, Ronald, 3 
Alameda, County of, 16 
Albany, City of, 20 
Alcoholism, 10-11 
Atcherly, Llewellyn, 3 

Ball, Dr. Juan Don, 9 

Becker, Sheriff Burton F. , 16 

Berkeley, City of, 1, 11-12, 13, 22-23, 2U, 25 

Police Department, 3, 7, lU, 17, 19, 23 

Town Marshal, 1, 13 

Jails, 23 

California, State of 

Adult Authority, 20 
Campus theater, 8 
Caustigan House, 13 
Chernin, Milton, 9 
Crypt ography , 1 8 

Dean, General William, k 

Elks Club, lU 

Elks magazine, U 

Emeryville, City of, 12, 17, 18-19, 21, 2U 

Flint, Chester "Chet", 1, 5, 16, 19 
Ford Motor Company, 13 
Frazer, Bert, U 
Friday Crab Club, 9 
Friedman Paint Company, 9 
"Frisco Billy", 9 

Game well Signal System, 11 
Glavinovich, John, 20 
Glavinovich, Rose, 20 
Guerrerra, Louis, 11 

Hard, George, 15, 16 
Harstad, Officer Norman H. , 16 
Helms, Capt. George, 15, l6, 17 
Keningson, George, 15, 16 
Heinz Pickle Works, 13 
Hollerith machine, lU 


IBM, lU 

Jansen, Oscar, 15, l6, 19, 21 
Jester, Lloyd, 20 
Junior Traffic Patrol, k 

Keeler, Leonard, 3 

Lee, Capt. Clarence D. , 1, 2-3, 6-7 

lie detector, 3 

Los Angeles, City of, 20 

Maldinado, Feliz, 11 
Miller, Mrs. , 5 
Mobilized Women, 25 
modus operand!, 3, 1* 


Post Inquirer , 20 

Oakland Tribune, 20 

S.F. Examiner, 20 
"Night Lodger", 25 

Oakland, City of, 12, lU 

Police Department, lU 
O Keefe, Patrick, 13 
Olema Club, 15, 18, 19 

Parathania, 13 

Payne, Eugene, 20 

Pidgeon, Ralph, 7 

Piper, Harry, 16, 19 

Police procedures 1-ff . , 13, 18 

Powers Company, lU 

Prohibition, lU, 18 

Bootlegging , lU 

Gambling, 15 

Prostitution, 15, 21, 22, 2k 
"Prop" , 21 
Putah Creek, 6 

Richmond, California, 13 
Rowell, Dr. Hubert N. , 9 

SfcW Food Company, 2 
San Francisco, City of, U 
San Jose State College, 17 
Schmidt , George , 1 
Schmidt, Marjorie Lee, 6-7 
Soto, Earl, 20 
Stanley, Dr. L.L. , 9 
Sturdivant, Lydia, 5 


Taylor , Clarence , 8 
Tule Lake, 18 

University of California, 13 

V-Men , 5 

Vollmer, Millicent "Pat", 5, 8 

Warren, Earl, 15-16, 17-19, 20, 21 
Weir, Charles, 15 
Woods, Albert, S.J. , 1 

YMCA, Berkeley, 1, lU 

University of California Bancroft Library /Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 

August Vollner Historical Project 

Muriel Hunter 

An interview conducted by 
Jane Howard Robinson 

1972 by The Regents of The University of California 


Muriel Hunter, born in 1908, served as August Vollaer s secretary 
during his early years at the University of California (1932-1936). She 
later married Thomas Hunter, one of Vollmer s students, and she and her 
husband remained close friends of Vollmer s for many years. She brings 
the perspective of a non-police work associate and personal friend to this 
series of interviews on August Vollmer. 

Interviewer: Jane Howard 

Time and 

Setting of 

the Interview: One interview was conducted with Mrs. Hunter on September lU, 

1971, in her Berkeley home. The interview began at around 

7:30 p.m. and concluded at about 8:00 p.m. 

Editing: The transcript was edited for grammatical and paragraphing 
errors by Jane Howard. Mrs. Hunter edited the transcript, 
changing a couple of sentences where the tape had not caught 
her meaning and correcting several small errors. The changes 
were minor. 

Narrat ive 

Account of 

Muriel Hunter Muriel Hunter was born in Berkeley, California, in 1908. She 

and the Pro- received three degrees from the University of California: a 

gress of the B.A. in languages in 1930, a certificate in Medical Social 

Interview: Work in 1936, and a Master s in Social Work in 1957. 

Mrs. Hunter worked as Mr. Vollmer s Secretary from 1932 to 
1936. She married Thomas Hunter, one of Vollmer s students, 
and remained friendly with Vollmer over the years. 
Mrs. Hunter went to work as a medical social worker, and 
continues to work in this field. 

The interview opens with Mrs. Hunter s recollections of her 
work with Mr. Vollmer. She describes Vollmer as an extremely 
interesting, kind and attractive man. She discusses his 
informality in social settings, which she felt contrasted 
with his working manner. Mrs. Hunter feels Vollmer s interest 
in Juvenile delinquency was her first stimulus toward a social 
work career. 

The interview touches on Vollmer s work with the Alameda 
County Coordinating Council, establishment of the School of 


Muriel Hunter (contd. ) 

Criminology and Vollmer s survey activities. 

In response to a question, Mrs. Hunter recalls that 
Vollmer always remained controlled even when angered. She 
tries to verbalise the nature of Vollmer s influence on his 
close associates and finds it hard to do so. She feels 
Vollmer was an inspiring and "very solid" individual. 

Mrs. Hunter concludes with comments on Vollmer s second 
wife, saying she was very pleasant, although uncomfortable 
in social situations, as she herself admitted. 

Jane Howard 

JRH: You worked with Vollaer from 31 to 35? 
HUNTER: 32, I think it was, to 36. 

JRH: You, at the time, were in the university yourself? 

HUNTER: Part of the time. Mot when I started. I d already graduated 

and largely through the chief I got interested in going on into 
social work. 

JRH: You d been at the university in another field? 

HUNTER: Yes, I majored in languages. In fact, that s how I got started; 
he wanted some translating done. I started with that and then I 
walked into his office when I heard that he was going up to the 
university, and asked if he could use a secretary. 

JRH: You were doing the translating while he was down in the police 
department still? 

HUNTER: Yes. And he said, "Well, perhaps so. I don t have anything to 
say about this; you ll have to make application through the 
present administration." Which I did. So I worked as his 
secretary. As I say, about 3 1 * I went back to graduate school. 

JRH: So you worked full time. 
HUNTER: For the first two or three years. 

JRH: I guess it s most interesting to us, from your point of view, 
well, first of all, what kind of man was he to work for? 

HUNTER: Wonderful. Kind, patient, understanding, interesting. 

JRH: You did mostly typing? Did you do any kind of research for him 
or anything? 

HUNTER: I worked over some of the manuscripts, some of his student s 
papers; they were people he had worked with before that were 
preparing for him, he was trying to develop a police science 

JRH: Book series, you mean? 

HUNTER: Yes. So I worked on the manuscripts for him. A good deal 
of my time was spent with students at the university. 

JRH: Was that after they had actually started up at the School 
of Criminology? 

HUNTER: Ho, he was still in the Bureau of Public Administration, 
so they would be taking courses for a variety of things. 
I can t remember what year it was, but a group major was 
developed. My husband was the first graduate. It was a 
matter of chosing different subjects from different schools 
and different majors. They have had group majors since 
then, but that was one of the first. 

JRH: Do you remember any anecdotes, what was characteristic about 
him or what things stood out most about him to you? 

HUNTER: That s hard to say. As I say, he was a very interesting 
man, a thinker; he vorked things out. His ideas were 
stimulating, and he had this wonderful personality. 

JRH: In what way? How would you describe it in terms of? 

HUNTER: Well, Just a kindly, honest, fair, real gentleman with a 
twinkle in his eye. Very good looking man. 

JRH: I get that impression, but people never I ve interviewed 
only men, and I guess they don t notice things like that. 

HUNTER: Well he was over six feet, fascinating and very erect. Rather 
gray. Very handsome. 

JRH: Dean Wilson said he tended to dress nicely too. 
HUNTER: Well, he did. 

JRH: Did he dress formally or sports clothes or suits mostly? 

HUNTER: He wore suits mostly and had this sense of how he looked, 
something that we don t have today. 

JRH: Some people say that he tended to get a little more austere 
or a little hard to approach as he got older, that people 
would feel a little frightened of him because he was a very, 
very solemn, a very serious man. Did you find that or something? 


HUNTFR: I don t think the people who really worked with him fairly 

regularly would say so. I think that they, the young people 
that were interested in him, put him on a pedestal, and 
perhaps they would feel that way about him, they admired 
him so much. He was certainly admirable, but he was a very 
approachable person, although he tended to be a little stiff 
in some ways, a little formal if he didn t know people. 
You ve heard of the V-Men, haven t you? 

Yes, a little, from your husband mostly, but... 

I can t remember who all was in that, but we used to have 
very good times together, quite apart from the work; we d 
go to picnics and parties. It seems he wasn t stiff, formal, 

JRH: What kind of things happened; do you remember stories, things 
you d do on those picnics? 

HUNTER: I can t remember any particular story. 

JRH: Your husband did have a couple of pictures of him sitting 
cross-legged at these picnics. Like in a yoga position. 

HUNTER: He had a very good sense of humor and he was stiff at times 
and other times he wasn t. When he was lecturing he tended 
to lecture in a rather formal fashion except when he was telling 
a story. 

JRH: You later you ve gone into social work now is that 
something you saw at the time? People say he was really 
interested in social work. 

HUNTER: Yes, he was. It was I think his views on Juvenile delinquency 
that got me interested in it in the first place. I went to 
social work with that idea in mind. I took everything they 
had to offer, of which, most developed, of course, was medicil 
social work. Then I got fascinated in medicine and I ve been 
in medical work every since. So I kind of dropped my previous 
interest, what started me off. A different subject. He had 
been very interested in the possibilities of health problems 
and things of that kind, when a child went wrong. He did 
quite a Job; I don t know whether he was the initiator, but 
he was extremely active in the early coordinating council here 
in Berkeley. He was always fascinated with why these kids go 
wrong. His ideal, as you may have heard from some others, was 
service. He used to have a little thing on his desk; I don t 
know where it originated exactly, a figure with wide spread arms. 
I don t know where it originated. It may have been a Grecian 
statue; it exemplified service. 











In keeping his office did he tend to be orderly or disorderly 
or what kind of hours did be work when you worked for him at 
the University? 

Fairly regular hours. By and large he was fairly orderly, 
although he always had his papers spread around. 

Do you remember anything about, you mentioned a coordinating 
council, what other community activities was he involved in? 

That was before he started at the University years before. 
I don t really know. As I recall when he was at the Univer 
sity, I can t remember him doing anything when he was at the 
University except maybe once in a while. He d go out of 
town for awhile. I think, as I recall, he was asked to do 
consultations in different cities. I don t know what the 
occasions were, but I know he was called out of town a lot. 

It took about twenty years after when you were working for 
him to finally get the criminology curriculum started as a 
regular independent department. 

I can t say, I don t remember when it became a department. 

What I was thinking about was Was he very active in 
working to get a independent department started when you 
were working or was he Just it must have been quite a 
process finally establishing a School of Criminology. 

He had tried to get several other courses besides his own 
started; and I can t remember now Just how far along he 
did get, and what snags it ran into. 

Do you remember, one thing I haven t got too much from 
anyone else, is who his enemies were. It seems a man 
who was involved in making changes must have run into some 
opposition. People have mentioned that when his ideas 
were presented as Chief of the Police Association people 
would often think his ideas wouldn t work at first and 
then later would become converts. Did you know any people? 
We want to collect a rounded picture of the man and most 
of what we ve heard are good things about him. Do you 
know any people he ran in with at school or....? 

Oh, I m sure there were people who disagreed with him. 
I ve seen him angry, but he never lost his temper. 

What would he do when he got angry? 

He didn t yell or 












Oh nol he vas very calm. He could be made angry on occasion 
and then he d Just sort of, he Just didn t do anything or say 
anything. He thought things out. He vas very rational about 
things. No, I don t know of any specific incident or disagree 
ment. I don t remember anybody that disagreed with him violently. 

What would people who disagreed with his ideas say about his 
ideas or him? 

Well, they Just disagreed with him. They agreed to disagree. 
But he didn t tend to lock horns with people? 
He was a very well balanced man. 

It sounds like that. We mentioned on our questionnaire, you 
didn t think of any particular stories or events that happened 
that you would say were typical? 

Unfortunately, I can t. I m sure there are, but I can t remember 
anything. It s awfully hard to explain. I think those who were 
closest to him and knew him best have an awfully hard time putting 
it into words, the influence he had on us. 

I guess he had a very curious manner that made it tough to put 
into words. 

He was really quite inspiring in many ways. He was very sound, 
a very solid person and yet he was very (Mrs. Hunter reflected, 
found it hard to specify)... I didn t put him on a pedestal, but 
I certainly thought he was a remarkable person. 

Could you say he influenced you? 
you to go on to graduate school. 

Well, you said he influenced 

Yes, he did. He didn t ever suggest it to me. It was Just 
that the areas of interest he opened up for me compelled me 
to do this. 

What kind of influence, I m Just kind of skipping from thing to 
thing to get some of the things other people haven t said how 
would you describe his wife, what sort of person was she and 
what sort of influence she had? 

On him? 

HUNTER: She was a very nice person, quite inhibited in many ways and 
knew it. She wanted to be more out-going than she was. She 
took good care of him a very pleasant person, but a little 

JRH: Quieter than him in a way then? 

HUNTER: Oh yes, she was always uncomfortable in social situations and 
he was a social bear I She would do them nicely, but as she 
said she was too much of an introvert, and she was. 

JRH: In a social situation, what kind of person was Vollmer? 
HUNTER: Oh, affable, gracious. 

JRH: Would he be a leader or... Some people at a party or in a 
social situation kind of start things off. Or was he more 
reserved than that? 

HUNTER: Well, in the party situations I saw him in he was with the 

students, there wasn t any need to start things. Just because 
he was there was enough for them! I don t know what he d be 
like in other kinds of situations. 

That s Just about all I can think of. I don t feel that I do 
Justice to him, but I Just really am at a loss. 

INDEX Muriel Hunter 

Coordinating Council, 3 
Juvenile delinquency, 3 
Thiatian statue, 3 

University of California at Berkeley 

Bureau of Public Administration, 2 
School of Criminology, 2, U 

V-nen, 3 

Vollner, Millicent "Pat", 5-6 

Wilson, Orlando W. , 2 

University of California Bancroft Library/Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 

August Vollner Historical Project 

Alfred Parker 

An interview conducted by 
Jane Howard Robinson 

1972 by The Regents of The University of California 


Alfred Parker was interviewed by Jane Howard as part of the 
August Vollmer series. Mr. Parker is a retired Berkeley, California 
school teacher who has authored two books on the Berkeley Police Depart 
ment and one on August Vollmer. He brings to the interview a wealth of 
personal and research knowledge of Vollner and his police department. 

Interviewer : 

Tine and Setting of 
the Interview: 


Narrative Account 
of Mr. Parker and 
the Progress of 
the Interview: 

Jane Howard 

A single interview was conducted with Mr. Parker on 
September 18, 1971, in his brown shingle Berkeley 
Hills home. The interview began at approximately 
9:30 a.m. and concluded at 10:30 a.m. 

Editing of the transcripts was done by Jane Howard. 
Some corrections in punctuation and spelling were 
made and some blanks left by the typists were filled. 
Paragraphing was done. Mr. Parker edited quite ex 
tensively to improve the grammar of the narrative. 

Mr. Parker received his M.A. from the University of 
California in 1932 where he wrote his thesis under 
August Vollmer, on policing state and federal rec 
reation areas. He then taught physical education in 
the Berkeley school system for 20 years, followed by 
19 years of service as a Junior high school counselor. 

Mr. Parker has authored materials in both the edu 
cation and police fields. In policing, he is author 
of Crime Fighter : August Vollmer and co-author with 
Mr. Vollmer of two books: Crime and the State Police 
and Crime. Crooks and Cops. Mr. Parker has Jut 
completed The Berkeley Police Story. 

Mr. Parker recalls his earliest association with 
Mr. Vollmer: Joint preparation of an article on lie 
detectors. He then explains that he decided to return 
to the University in 1931 for his M.A. where he 
worked with Vollmer on Crime and the State Police 
and on his master s degree . 

Parker continues by discussing Vollmer s outstanding 
intellectual and personal qualities. He also mentions 
that Vollmer was a physically Impressive man. 


Alfred Parker (contd. ) 

Mr. Parker turns his attention to memories of a trip 
to Parker s Catalina Island home. The interview 
continues with discussion of Vollmer s life history, 
principles and professional influence. 

Mr. Parker recalls the physical appearance of 
Vollmer s study. He discusses Vollmer s liking for, 
and friendliness toward, neighborhood children. He 
offers his opinion, as a former physical education 
instructor, that Vollmer could have been a superior 
athlete if he had the opportunity for training. As 
it was, Parker states, his athletic abilities were 

Parker describes Vollmer s home briefly, and turns to 
a discussion of the police surveys done by Vollmer 
and his men. He emphasizes that one of Vollmer s 
major goals was removing police work from all political 
influence . 

The tape continues with a description by Mr. Parker of 
Vollmer s role in the preparation of the Wickersham 
Report and in instituting reforms in California law 
enforcement. Mr. Parker touches on Vollmer s efforts 
against the gambling clubs in Bneryville. He closes 
with an explanation of how he wrote his book on Vollmer. 

Jane Howard 


Parker: I first met August Vollmer in 1920 and we met each other several times 
after that and became good friends. Then in 192U, I thought of writing 
a magazine article about Vollmer. I vent to his office and we spent 
two or three hours doing the interview. Later, I sold the article to 
a magazine in the east. 

I remember, when the interview was over, Vollmer picked up eight or 
ten magazines and two or three books. I said, "What are you going to 
do with those?" "Well" he said, "that s my homework for tonight." He 
told me at that time that he never vent to bed before twelve o clock 
and sometimes later. He said he was always studying and had an armful 
of books or magazines that he took home. 

JRH: What were you writing on? 
Parker: The title of the article was "You Can t Fool the Lie Detector." 

In 1931, I went back to the University to take courses for my M.A. degree. 
I signed for a course with Vollmer on Police Administration. My original 
major had been in the Political Science Department. So we worked in 
this course and started research to develop a book called "Crime and State 
Police" which was published by the University of California Press. Also, 
in addition to that I had to write a thesis and Vollmer suggested the 
title, "Policing Federal and State Recreation Areas." So, I started 
digging up information on that subject and it was accepted as my thesis. 
Interestingly, about two or three years later the University Library 
called me and wanted to know if they could make duplicate copies of this 
thesis, they had so many calls for it. So there are a number of copies 
at the University. 

Vollmer was a great inspiration to me. Through the years we had many 
conferences together in his home and we became real friends and he was, 
In my opinion, a genius. I ve heard of a lot of definitions of genius: 
95Jt hard work and 5/J inspiration, but I would say that he was 100% hard 
work and 100% inspiration. I m sure that he would have been a success in 
any field. He lectured later at the Medical School at the University of 
California in San Francisco. He studied law and could have passed the 
Bar, but he didn t have time. He was too busy. He got all be wanted to 
know about law so that it would help him as Chief of Police. He was 
really a psychiatrist in a way because of his studies. 

Another thing that impressed me about him was his terrific memory. We d 
be talking in his study and he d mention something and he said, "I know 
that there s a certain thing that I want to tell you about. 11 He d go 
pick up a book and turn to the page and show you what this author had 

Parker: I remember that he left for the Philippines during the Spanish-American 
War. His mother gave him a Bible and along irlth a friend of hit they 
sat on the deck of the ship (it took a long time to get to the Philippines 
in those days) and they read the Bible clear through. He d quote 
passage after passage from that one reading. It vat terrific, the memory 
that he had, which certainly was a great advantage. 

His personality really Impressed me, he was a big man, over six feet, 
broad-shouldered. His clothes he always wore a uniform when the 
members of the Department had inspection day, but otherwise he wore 
business suits, usually gray or blue, his necktie neatly up against the 
collar. He was a veil groomed man. 

JRH: Was he dark haired or fair haired? 

Parker: I would say dark haired when he was a young man, then gray and he kept 
his hair quite well in later years. His personal characteristics that 
attracted people were: he was interested in people, friendly with them, 
and he wanted to help people, he had a nice smile. His voice was com 
manding, he made a great impression on people when he d walk into a 
room, I noticed that. He really had the type of personality that at 
tracted people and they liked him. 

JRH: Tou mentioned that he wore business suits. Would most Chiefs of Police 
wear business suits or would they wear uniforms? 

Parker: Well, I think he started the idea of wearing a business suit because he 
found out when he first started in he wore his uniform more, but as 
time went on he found out that he was a business executive and he had 
to run this department and he had to meet the public. There were so 
many instances where he didn t need to have on a uniform and it was a 
practice carried on in the Berkeley Department and I think in a lot of 
departments because it s the way that the job of Police Chief has devel 
oped all over the country. 

Through the years we became friendly, both my wife and I, and also 
Vollmer s wife Pat. They were in our home many times for dinner and we 
were at their place many times. One of his favorite dishes was bouillabaisa 
and he used to wrap a towel around our necks when we were eating to 
protect our clothes. 

JRH: Did he cook himself? 
Parker: Tes, he was a pretty good cook. 

I remember my wife s folks owned a home at Catalina Island. In fact, 
we still do. We Invited the Vollmers down there and he was there for 
several days. One of my best friends at Catalina was Judge Ernest Windle 
and he was a great student of criminology and law. Being a Judge, he 
needed that information. He was fascinated to have Vollmer for a visit. 
The Judge took the two of us in his car down the middle of the Island 
and he also took a rifle along and some bullets because there s wild 

Parker: hogs on the Island and you re allowed to hunt. So we got down there 
and the Judge said, "Veil, Chief, would you like to see if we can 
find a wild hog and you can shoot it?" He said, "Oh no, it s much 
more interesting to talk about criminology." So he passed that one 
up, and the Judge remarked about that for years later. He felt that 
was really sonething because in his younger days and later too, I 
guess, Vollmer was an expert pistol shot. In fact, he started that in 
the Department, having the men practice on a pistol range. He had to 
shoot a pistol himself a few times when he was chasing a criminal. 

JRH: He was never a patrolman at all, was he? 
Parker: Ho, he wasn t. 

In 1905, Friend W. Richardson, who owned the Berkeley Daily Gazette 
called him in; I think Vollmer was peddling mail then. Richardson 
wanted Vollmer to run for town Marshal. He at first laughed at the 
idea and his family thought that it was a crazy idea. Several other 
people along with Friend Richardson persuaded him to do it. He had 
made quite a record in the Spanish American War. He d gone on one ex 
pedition all by himself with somebody running a boat up the river to 
locate some of the enemy that they wanted to ferret out. He had to 
hide under hay in the boat at times. Anyway, they located the enemy 
and they conquered them. 

He had this record of bravery behind him; he was well liked in the 
town. He was a volunteer fireman and so Richardson finely persuaded 
him, and he said that he would run, but he knew he wouldn t be elected. 
Well, he was elected by a terrific margin and at the end of two years 
they wanted him to run again and he did. 

By that time, he got really interested. I suppose that you would say 
that when he was a Town Marshal and in his first years as Chief of 
Police he was out with the men a lot on patrol, but he was never actually 
a patrolman. 

Vollmer s principles, what he stood for, right from the start, even 
when he was Town Marshal, was practicing the Golden Rule. He was 
determined later that he would try to professionalize the police force 
and see that they got all the possible education they could so that 
they d be able to meet all the situations. 

His biggest influence, I would say, on policing in the United States, 
was all the different "firsts" that he started. For one thing, he in 
stalled the first red light, flashing signal in the United States; he 
installed centralized record systems, and he organized the first 
bicycle patrol, the first motorcycle patrol and the first motorized 
police force. He started a radio car, in an old Model T. Ford, so that 
they could have contact with their men in the cars. He started the first 
Police School in Berkeley, and all of this had its effect nationally, 
and of course, in 1922 he was President of the International Association 
of Chiefs of Police. 

Parker: His influence in Berkeley was great and he was sought for advice by 
all kinds of people, for problems other than police problems. He 
was one person who was not shunned by the local citizens and in 1931 
he received the Wheeler Award. The Benjamin I. Whetler Award is for 
being Berkeley s most noted citizen, nationally and internationally. 

In Alameda County he was in the Officer s Association of the county. 

He was sought for advice by other police chiefs in the county and he 
cooperated with them. 

He was first called a "boy-Marshal"; then, they started sending re 
porters from magazines in the East, and the newspaper syndicates. 
When they found out that this fellow really had something, he got a 
national reputation; pretty soon there were police chiefs from all 
over the United States visiting him and from China and foreign 
countries. Every year they would come to visit his department and 
talk to him. So he became an influence in police work all over the 

In the many conferences that we had in his study, in his home on 
Euclid Avenue, I was fascinated with the type of study that he had, the 
physical make-up of it. He had a nice fireplace at the end of the 
room, and he had a picture of the redwoods above the fireplace and 
around one wall he had all kinds of books, hundreds of books, every 
thing you could think of! Then he had a big flat-top desk. There was 
a piano in there. He was musical. He played a guitar when he was 
young and there was one of his old friends, Erma Mazza, who came over 
and played the piano and he played the guitar. Off of this study, which 
was really in the basement, was another big room and he had shelf 
after shelf reaching to the ceiling. He had hundreds of police reports 
from all over the world, from every country that you could think of. 
When we were talking or doing research on our book, "Crime, Crooks and 
Cops" that we wrote together, he d think of something and he d go into 
this room and he d pull out a pamphlet and say, "I think I saw that 
in such and such a report" and we d have the information. 

Another thing that interested me was his liking for children. I don t 
think I was ever at his study, particularly in the afternoon, when 
it was after school hours, there would be a tap, tap, tap on the out 
side door. He d go to the door and there d be three or four boys, 
eight or ten years old and he d have a round dish and he d greet them 
with a nice Jovial voice and ask them how they were getting along. 
He d pull off the cover of this dish and he d *ive them some candy and 
then he would say "Now, I m pretty busy today, you come back and we ll 
figure out some more puzzles for detective work." 

Then one day, there was a tap, tap on the door and they said there s 
some boys up the street, some older boys who are throwing rocks and 
they re trying to fight with one of our pals. So we went out and the 
Chief got in my car and we drove about two blocks up the street. 
He talked to these boys and finally persuaded them that that was no 
way to do, picking on a little kid and that they were older. He was 
very much interested in boys and girls and I remember that after I d 






published a biograohy of Vollmer, after he died, it was published by 
MacMillan in Ip6l, I rot letters from several men and women who had been 
boys and girls back in the days when Vollmer lived on Euclid. The 
letters told how much they thought of him, and they called him "Uncle 
Gus." He was an inspiration in their life. 

He was also a great gardener, he did a lot of p^urdening around the 
house, he loved birds, he had several places where he fed the birds and 
he had bird baths there. Another thing that I remember about Vollmer 
is the fact that he really was a great athlete. 

That s something. You re the only one who s talked about that. 

He didn t have the opportunity at the time that he grew up to go to 
the university, he couldn t go to high school or anything like that, 
but he learned wrestling, he learned boxing, and he would win all kinds 
of foot races back in those days, and he learned how to swim. I can 
remember when we were down at Catalina, we went swimming, and he swam 
a beautiful Australian Crawl stroke, a powerful stroke. Powerful 
legs and oowerful arms and he really could plow through the water. 
I m sure that had he gone to a university he could have been a fine 
football player, basketball, baseball anything you d wish, because 
he was a natural athelete. All of which I think didn t do him any 
harm in being a leader of men and they respected him for his physical 

I got the impression from other people that he didn t have much time 
to enrage in sports or anything. 

No, he really didn t because you see he lived in New Orleans and 
his father . . . Well, before his father died, Vollmer was a little 
kid about eight or ten, he came home and he was all beat up and he had 
a black-eye and a bloody nose. 


His father looked at him and he told him what had happened and so he 
said "Ckay, we re going to fix this." So he took him down to a pym 
instructor and said, "I want you to teach him boxing and wrestling" 
and he told him "Now August, I don t want you when you ve learned 
all this to go out and pick a fight with anybody. But when you get 
Jumped on, you re going to defend yourself" and he certainly did from 
then on. 

After Vollmer s father died, Mrs. Vollmer moved to San Francisco and 
August went two years to a business school and that was all of his 
formal education. Then they moved over to Berkeley and he got a job, 
I think in a fuel yard; fuel, coal and wood yard. When the Spanish- 
American War came along, he enlisted and when he came back he was a 
mailman for a while and so he didn t really have any opportunity to 
engage in sports as we know sports. 


When you knew him, did he work out at all? 
gym or do things like that? 

Did he come down to your 

Parker: No, he didn t do too much of that, although he did a lot of physical 
vork around the yard. He kept himself in good trim though, did a 
lot of walking. I remember him telling me that in the early days when 
they were hunting a criminal, he would act as a detective. He said, 
he was awfully busy and he would eat a big breakfast; he would eat two 
or three or four pancakes, five or six eggs and milk and coffee and bacon. 
It Just sounded like an enormous breakfast. But he had no lunch, he 
never ate a lunch as he was on the go a lot. 

JRH: You described his study, I think. It made me curious about what the 
rest of his home was like. Could you give me an idea? 

Parker: Well, they had a nice home. Modern furniture and Pat, his wife, was 

meticulous housekeeper and she kept the place clean. The study was down 
in the basement and the rooms were upstairs . It was a modern type 
home, well decorated, modern furniture. She was particular about it, 
keeping everything clean. She used to tell me that at the time that 
Gus was making so many of these surveys, which you probably already have 
noted, she got to the point where she never unpacked her suitcase 
because she didn t know when they were going some place and he liked to 
have her along and so she said she Just kept one suitcase packed and 
all ready to go. Have you got anything about the surveys? 

JRH: Yes, some that I have listed of where he went are Los Angeles, and San 

Parker: It s an interesting thing to me, that as these different police chiefs 

came to talk to him, they realized, many of them, that there was something 
wrong with their departments and they wanted him to make recommendations 
and that s how the surveys really started. The first survey that he made 
was in San Diego and when he went there they didn t even know he was 
in town. He d prowl around, get the picture of the place and then start 
studying the department. You have a list of the surveys? 

JRH: Let me see, I think I do. It s published in your book. They ll be using 
them in conjunction with the other things, your books and things like 

Parker: Well, these surveys that he made, it got to the point that there were 
so many places that wanted him that he couldn t go to all of these 
places, so he d select one of his captains and ask him if he would go 
and make a survey and that s what happened and the result was that his 
influence was all over the world. 

Now, one fact that has been misunderstood by some people. They thought 
that when he went to Los Angeles in 1923, he had left the Berkeley 
Police Department and gone to Los Angeles to bicome their permanent 
chief of police. That was not so. He became their chief of police, 
that was correct, but he agreed that he would go there only for one 
year and he did. He went there for one year, he studied the situation, 
he wrote a five or six hundred page report and a recommendation on 
what should be done in the Los Angeles Police Department. After he left 
the next chief of police, I can t remember his name, put the report on 
a shelf and it began to gather dust. They didn t do anything about it. 

Parker: Then, a later chief of police came alonp and he pulled that report 
down and he put into practice practically everything that he 
recommended. Many an officer in the Berkeley Police Department has 
been proud of the fact that L.A. has one of the finest police departments 
in the world. They carried out everything that Vollmer had suggested 
and really made a great department out of it, but at first they Just 
shoved the report aside, which is what happens sometimes. 

TRH: I was p.ointr, to ask you one of the things that you said when Gene Carte 
and I came originally, that Vollmer always fought politics. He had 
an awful lot of influence, I don t know whether or not you d call it 
political, but he created a lot of change in the way policing was done. 
What do you mean? 

Parker: Well, the thing that he was particularly opposed to was the fact that 
you can t select a police force or a chief of police, by political 
influence. He goes on to show in the many of his surveys or talks that 
many of the police chiefs around the country were selected because the 
man was a good barber or a good tailor or a good groceryman or a good 
something else; he was Just a political follower and one who was up in 
Politics and so he was made a chief of police. That was what he was 
opposed to and, of course, he was in favor of high training and ex 
perience for police chiefs and for all police. That s what Vollmer 
meant, you can t mix politics with police work. Another thing Vollmer 
would not permit was police taking bribes. His policemen were never 
permitted to take a present. Do you know anything about the report on 
police that he wrote? 

JRH: No, I don t know anything about that. 

Parker: Well, there was a national commission on law observance and enforcement 
established by Herbert Hoover and George W. Wickersham was the chair 
man. They went into many phases of the crime problems that were in 
1931. The pamphlet is titled: Report On Police. Quite a bit of infor 
mation in this pamphlet is evidence of the fact that Vollmer had a 
national influence as well as local. For instance, on page M he 
listed the chiefs of police of the city of Chicago and shows how many 
police chiefs they had from the beginning. Sometimes they wouldn t 
be in office more than two or three years and they d appoint another one. 
They were all political appointments. 

His influence in the state of California was great too. In 1915 he 
assisted in preparing a bill for creation of a psychiatric clinic in 
San Quentin and that bill was passed. He was also influential in the 
state police officers association. Again, men from all over the state 
came to him for advise. He was thoroughly sold on police work and 
trying to elevate police into a real profession and, to me, his whole 
life was an example of the fact that if you really get wrapped up 
in something and you re thinking about it a lot you can t help but 
be successful. 

JRH: I was going to ask you not so much about the state, but you mentioned 
before there had been problems with gambling before he was elected 
Town Marshal. 


Parker: That s right, there were a lot of lotteries and crooks, and that s one 
of the reasons why they wanted a fellow like Vollmer who was a brave 
man to clean up these gambling dens. 

JRH: Was this aa early as 1910? 

Parker: Ho, 1905. This was when he was first elected marshal. 
JRH: I d heard about in the 30 s but not .... 

Parker: No, this was 1905. This was one of his first Jobs and gamblers tried 

to offer him big bribes. He wouldn t have anything to do with them and 
he went in personally himself, leading his men into these gambling places, 
In fact, they had to go from a roof through a window into the building 
on a plank on a cold foggy dark night to get into one gambling place, 
and they arrested everybody in the place. However, the gamblers had 
gotten rid of a lot of the evidence. That was one of the early facts 
that Vollmer learned. You ve got to have evidence if you re going to 
really convict someone. 

Vollmer had all kinds of friends, I think the reason that he did was 
genuine interest in people. He was a good listener and when he was 
asked for advice and he gave it, it was good sound advice. He was well 

JRH: One thing you mentioned before, when a number of people were in your 

gym classes they later went on into police work. Do you remember some 
of the people who did that? 

Parker: When I started working on my latest book which is entitled "The Berk 
eley Police Story", in 1967, I went down into the police department. 
I had thought of the idea of writing a complete story of the Berkeley 
police from 1905 to the present time. So I went into see William Beall, 
the police chief, who was a former memeber of one of my gym classes at 
Berkeley High School. He was tickled to death. He said, "Al, this is 
exactly what we want and I ll cooperate with you in any way that I 
can to get the information". So he appointed Sgt. Merritt Thomas, 
my liaison officer and he introduced me to all the different captains 
and took me down to the basement and showed me the old files. They 
assigned me a desk and I went to work and I worked for three and a half 
years researching and writing this book. So I had a lot of cooperation. 
Captain Richard Young, who at the time that I started working on the 
book was the Captain of the Service Division, was a former member of my 
gym class at Berkeley High. I can t think of any others riptit now. 

JRH: Those are all the questions I have, I guess you ve gotten to the end of 
your outline. 

Parker: Yes, I believe so. 

INDEX Alfred Parker 

Alameda County Officers Association, U 
athletics, 5 

Beall, William, 8 
Berkeley, City of 

Police Department, 6, 7 

tovn marshal, 3, i, 7, 8 
Berkeley Daily Gazette. 3 
Berkeley Police Story. The, 8 

Chicago police chiefs, 7 
Catalina Island, 2, 5 
Crime and State Police, 1 
Crime. Crooks and Cops, k 

gambling, 8 
"Golden Rule", 3 

Hoover, Herbert, 7 

Los Angeles Police Department, 6-7 
Los Angeles police survey, 6 

MacMillan Company, 5 
Mazza, Erma, k 

Philippines, The, 2 

police procedures, 3, 7, 8 

Policing Federal and State Recreation Areas. 1 

Report on Police. 7 
Richardson, Friend W. , 3 

San Diego police survey, 6 

San Quentin psychiatric clinic, 7 

Spanish-American War, 2, 3, 5 

Thomas, Merritt, 8 

University of California at Berkeley, 1 

Police Administration, 1 

Political Science Department, 1 
University of California Medical School, San Francisco, 1 


University of California Press, 1 
Vollmer, Millicent "Pat", 2, 6 

Windle, Ernest. 2 

Wheeler Award (Benjamin Ide), U 

Wickersham, George W. , 7 

You Can t Fool The Lie Detector. 1 
Young, Richard, 8 



1. What was your personal relation to Vollmer? 

How did you get to know him? 

In what capacities did you work with or see him? 
What impact did he have on your life, both your 
personal life and your professional development? 

2. What kind of a man was Vollmer? 

How did he impress you what did he look like, sound like, 


How do you think he impressed others? 
What personal characteristics do you think he had that made 

him an influential man? 

3. What anecdotes and stories do you recall from your own contacts or 
others stories that give a particularly good idea of the kind of 
man Vollmer was? 

U. How did Vollmer relate to the people he dealt with on a frequent 
and close basis? 

To friends? 

To employees? 

To professional colleagues? 

5. In what ways was Vollmer influential in the community? 

In Berkeley? 

In Alaneda County? 

6. In what ways was Vollmer influential in and involved in events in 
the state? 

7. What was Vollmer s professional impact? 

What were the major ideas and principles that 

Vollmftr stood for? 
What were the major influences Vollmer had on policing, 

education, and training? On other areas? 

8. Are there other people that had a significant relationship with 
Voller that you think would be available for an interview as 
part of this project? 



1. What was your personal relation to Vollmer? 

How did you get to know him? 

In what capacities did you work with or see him? 
What impact did he have on your life, both your 
personal life and your professional development? 

2. What kind of a man was Vollmer? 

How did he impress you what did he look like, sound 

like, etc.? 

How do you think he impressed others? 
What personal characteristics do you think he had that 

made him an influential man? 

3. What anecdotes and stories do you recall from your own contacts or 
others stories that give a particularly good idea of the kind of 
man Vollraer was? 

i*. What was Vollmer 1 s professional impact? 

What were the major ideas and principles that Vollner 

stood for? 
What were the major influences Vollmer had on policing, 

education, and training? On other areas? 

5. In what ways was Vollmer influential in and involved in events 
in the state? 

6. In what ways was Vollmer influential in the community? 

In Berkeley? 

In Alameda County? 

7. How did Vollmer relate to the people he dealt with on a frequent and 
close basis? 

8. Are there other people that had a significant relationship with Vollmer 
that you think would be available for an interview as part of this 


August Vollmer Historical Project Interview Participants 


1. I June 29, 1971 
II June 30, 1971 

2. July 2, 1971 

3. July 6, 1971 
U. July 8, 1971 

5. July 15, 1971 

6. July 23, 1971 

7. August 9, 1971 

8. August 9, 1971 

9. August 9, 1971 

10. August 27, 1971 

11. September ifc, 1971 

12. September 18, 1971 

John Holstrom 

O.W. Wilson 
Milton Chemin 
General William Dean 
Rose Glavinovich 
Gene Woods 
Al Co f fey 
George Brereton 
Thomas Hunter 
Willard Schmidt 
Muriel Hunter 
Alfred Parker 


Born: October 27, 19*3 
Raised: Washington, D.C. 


B.A. , Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, June 1965, English major 

M.S.W., University of California, Berkeley 

Social work administration and community organization major 

Postmaster s internship in the University of California Professional 
Schools Program in India, June 1968-March 1969- 

Nine month postmaster s program with selected representatives 
from each of the University of California s professional 
schools. Internship combining field work at the Delhi School 
of Social Work and academic courses on the culture, government, 
economic development , and history of India. 


January to June 1966: Administrative assistant in Cambridge, Massachusetts 
Economic Opportunity Program. 

September 1969-March 1971: Organization for Business, Economic and 

Community Advancement, Inc., 29 1 0-l6th St., San Francisco. Project 
coordinator for a Department of Labor-funded program developing new 
health careers in San Francisco hospitals and social service agencies, 
and training Mission District residents for these careers. Duties 
included trainee counselling and evaluation, proposal writing, and 
placement development and evaluation. 

September 1971-Present : Supplementary Training Associates, 2801 San Pablo 
Avenue, Berkeley. Regional representative supervising 9 Headstart 
and Followthrough Supplementary Training Programs, Office of Education 
and Office of Child Development-funded projects through which Headstart 
and Followthrough staff can work toward college degrees. Responsibilities 
for these nine programs (which serve an average of 100 staff members), 
include negotiating subcontracts with universities, training and 
technical assistance to HS staffs in using the program, monitoring 
and evaluation of the programs, and assisting the universities in 
developing new and innovative program proposals. 


"Indian Society, Indian Social Work: Identifying Indian Principles and Methods 
for Social Work Practice," under maiden name, Jane Howard, International 
Social Work, Volume XIV, No. U, 1971. 

Jane Hovard Robinson 


"August Vollner: Pioneer in Police Professionalism," a series of 12 inter 
views with police and university personnel, on the life and career of 
August Vollmer, Chief, Berkeley Police Department, 1905-1932, and founder 
of the University of California s School of Criminology. To be published 
Fall 1972, by the University of California, Regional Oral History Office 
of the Bancroft Library. 


University of California Professional Schools Program representative from 
the School of Social Welfare, September 1968-March 1969. 

Ford Foundation fellowship for living expenses in India. 
NDEA language study fellowship for Hindi -Urdu, Summer 1966. 

University of California, School of Social Welfare, 1967-8. 

Ford Foundation fellowship for students interested in 
careers in international development. 


National Association of Social Workers 

Life Member, Delhi School of Social Work Society 


Undergraduate: Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts 
Graduate: University of California, School of Social Welfare, Berkeley 
Professional: Masato Inaba or Leandro Soto, OBECA/Arriba Juntos, 29 1 0-l6th St., 

Room 10U, San Francisco, Calif. 

The research for this study was made possible by a 
fellowship from the National Institute of Law Enforcement 
and Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement Assistance 
Administration, during the years 1969 - 1971. The 
writer acknowledges with gratitude the support and 
encouragement he has received from the Institute. 






The Professional Police Model 1 

Professionalism in a Criminal Justice 

Context - 4 

Policing s First Professional - --9 

Design of the Paper --. 12 

Future Research Goals 15 



The Evolution of the Municipal Police 

Function -18 

American versus Foreign Police Models- 23 

The Movement for Government Reform- -33 

The Effect of Civil Service Reform- 35 

Trade Unionism and the Boston Police Strike-- 38 

Summary ...45 

The California Setting 46 



1905: The Berkeley Campaign for Marshal 50 

Vollmer s Background 55 

Early Years of Innovation -57 

Personnel Reform -67 

"College Cops" - -72 

Berkeley as a Training Ground for Police 

Leaders 78 

Community Involvement and Press Relations -- 84 

Association with Earl Warren 89 

The Quality of Berkeley Policing under 

Vollmer- -91 



Professional Efforts in California 97 

National Efforts toward Police Centralization- 102 
A Spokesman for Police Professionalism ---- 106 


The Year in Los Angeles 112 

Vollmer s Work as a Police Consultant-- 119 

The Wickersham Report 124 

The Years as a Research Professor and 

Writer - 129 


Definition of Vollmer s Police Profession 
alism -141 

Changes in Police Priorities 143 

Major Crimes . 150 

Vice Law Enforcement 156 

Traffic Regulation- 165 

General Service 168 

Personnel- 172 

Vollmer s View of Policing in a Changing 

Society 176 

Limitations of Vollmer s Professional 

Policing 179 

Summary 189 



Civic and Moral Reformers 198 

Public Support for Police Professionalism- 207 

Police Professionalism: The Changing 

Historical Mandate 214 


Some Positive Aspects of Professionalism--- 221 

Detachment versus Participation 224 

Centralization versus Home Rule- 228 

The Crime Fighter versus the Miscellaneous 

Public Functionary 232 


"Chronology of the Career of August 





"Changes in Public Attitudes toward the 
Police: A Comparison of Surveys Dated 
1938 and 1971" by Gene E. Carte 






Gene E. Carte, School of Criminology 

This paper explores the roots of professionalism 

as a model for American municipal policing by focusing 

upon the career of August Vollmer, who served as police 

chief of Berkeley, California, from 1905 to 1932. By the 
1920s Vollmer was established as the foremost American 
police spokesman, and was a strong advocate of the appli 
cation of the professional model to policing. 


Two perspectives are employed for the study: an 
intensive examination of the actual work and ideas of Vollmer, 
as evidenced in the Berkeley department and in his national 


role as an educator, police consultant, and writer; and an 
examination of the historical setting within which profession 
alism was developed. Materials used for the examination of 

Vollmer s career include oral interviews with his former 
colleagues and associates; personal papers and correspondence; 
and published sources. The analysis of the historical setting 


draws upon literature in sociology and policing dealing with 

American municipal government and criminal justice from the 


last quarter of the nineteenth century through the 1930s. 

The study contends that police professionalism arose 

in response to several definite historical trends: 1) the 

ambivalent pressures placed on policing by moral an< * civic 

reformers, corrupt municipal officials, and heterogeneous 
urban populations; 2) the closing of trade unionism as a 
method for the redress of police grievances following the 
suppression of the Boston Police Strike in 1919; 3) and the 
failure of civil service reform to meet the basic police 
problems of insecure tenure, political influence, and incom 


It is the further contention of the study that Vollmer s 
model of police professionalism contained within it serious 
contradictions. The most fundamental of these was the con 
flict between the detached stance of the professional and the 


.^if continuing need for policing to adjust to social flux within the 
community. A correlative conflict was the incompatibility 

of the crime -fighting priority with the actual role of the 
policeman as a miscellaneous government functionary. 

The professional model in application is studied through 
a detailed examination of Vollmer s work in Berkeley, where 
he introduced many technological and managerial innovations 
that established him as a progressive police leader. Among 

these were the use of mobile patrol, recall systems, beat 

analysis, modus operandi, scientific detection methods, 


and centralized crime records. Personnel standards were 


upgraded through intelligence and psychological testing, 
formal training schools, and the recruitment of college* 
educated patrolmen. The Berkeley department became a 


training ground for policemen who joined other departments 
at the leadership level or entered careers as educators and 

writers on professional policing. The effect of Vollmer s 
personality and leadership skills upon the Berkeley depart 
ment is explored. 


Modifications of the Berkeley model are examined 
as Vollmer applied it during his term as police chief in 
Los Angeles (1923-24) and adapted it in his writings as a 
consultant to other urban police departments and as an 
^ advocate of centralization in nearly all aspects of policing. 

The paper concludes that Vollmer constructed an 
effective and personal style of policing in Berkeley which was 


necessarily altered to meet the requirements of heterogeneous 
urban areas. The professional model contributed to the 
creation of an ideology that reinforced insularity and increased 
dependence upon technology and scientific management to 
solve police problems. Present public expectations do not 

justify the continuance of a model that is founded upon 
detachment from social change and the preselection of 

priorities and police goals. 



Jerome H. Skolnick 


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