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Anaheim Police Department History: Introduction


The historical events of the Anaheim Police Department paint a colorful and exciting picture of the men and women involved in protecting the people of the city.

The area which is now the City of Anaheim was originally land located in the County of Los Angeles. In the early 1850's, the population of Los Angeles was almost 7,500, half of which were Native American Indians. The boundaries of Los Angeles County included areas that are now Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and parts of Kern and Ventura Counties. In 1853, Los Angeles County began to get smaller as new counties were formed.

The Sheriff of L.A. County during this period of time was James R. Barton. Sheriff Barton was not just the keeper of the peace; he was also the ex officio tax collector. His duties required him to travel throughout his large territory in order to handle crimes and collect revenue from the many settlers who had migrated from the East. For performing these duties, Sheriff Barton was paid an unusually high annual salary of $10,000.

The area of Los Angeles County, which would later become Orange County, had quite a problem with lawlessness. Bandits attacked the early settlers, injuring the people and destroying their property. Robberies of banks, saloons, stagecoaches and stores were committed frequently. Cattle rustling and horse thievery were committed so often that Governor Peter Burnett tried to have rustling made a capital crime. Because of the lack of an organized judicial system, citizens had to resort to handling some of the criminals themselves. Many suspects were just hung on the spot.

In 1857, two men in San Francisco named Charles Kohler and James Frohling were looking for an area to establish a vineyard colony.

Kohler and Frohling, with a group of German immigrants, formed the Los Angeles Vineyard Society on February 24, 1857. George Hansen, a Los Angeles surveyor, was selected to find an ideal site for their planned community. He found it on the Rancho San Juan Cajon de Santa Ana, which was then in Los Angeles County. Plans were formed for the new town, which was named "Anaheim," but known to their Spanish-speaking neighbors as "Campo Aleman." Although the first settlers arrived in town in 1859, it was not until 1870 that the city was first organized as a municipality. During these early years of Anaheim, the police department consisted of the mayor as policeman and judge.