A Century of Service
In 1901 San Pablo Township ranchers and businessmen elected Frank Moitoza to serve as Constable. Harry Stevens was hired in 1905 to serve as the city's first night watchman and concurrently the city's first policeman. In 1906 the chore was turned over to A.B. Crump. H.W. Livingstone was appointed City Marshal, Superintendant of Streets, Tax Collector and Pound Master by Richmond's Board of Trustees at their first meeting following incorporation in August 1905. He was the first person to hold a position comparable to that of Chief of Police. Livingston was succeeded in the position April 1906 by J.H. Gregory, who served until July 1909 when the city charter became effective. The State of California ratified and adopted the City Charter March 4, 1909, to be effective July 1.
Richmond had police protection during the first decade of the 1900's, but it was not until the adoption of the city charter in 1909 that the first Chief of Police was appointed. J.P. Arnold (center in photo above), was sworn into office July 6, 1909.
A cartoon sketch depicting Chief Arnold created during the time period suggests reverent support and admiration for the chief, as interpreted by the text that accompanied the drawing:
"CHIEF OF POLICE JAMES P. ARNOLD
Who has been head of Richmond's police department since July, 1909,
and has done much to build up an up-to-date police force.
He has done more to purify the city and free it from objectionable characters
than any peace officer in the history of Richmond.
Chief Arnold is known throughout the entire state as an enemy of criminals
through his persistent efforts in running down violators of the law."
The photo at the right shows the original police station which was located in downtown Point Richmond. The police and fire departments operated out of the same building. The original building still remains as a historical landmark (the current fire station is directly across the street from the original).
One time period in RPD history that would offer particularly tough challenges amid rapidly changing conditions came during the 1940's. World War II was in full swing and Richmond experienced a population boom that accompanied the Liberty and Victory shipbuilding effort underway in the San Francisco Bay Area. Many newcomers were drawn to Richmond with employment created by the Kaiser-Richmond Shipyards, defense-related industries and an assortment of offshoot opportunities generated by the war effort. An escalating crime rate accompanied the Richmond wartime boom and city officials petitioned the federal government for increased funding to augment the police force.
In April 1943 Richmond Police Chief L. Emmett Jones testified before a federal committee that his force of 54 "men" included 19 added out of necessity in the previous year "to help maintain law and order in the community." In the summer of 1943 Richmond received federal funding to hire 75 more police officers - yes, seventy-five additional police officers.
- RPD averaged 2,149 arrests annually, 1931 to 1940
- By June 30, 1941 the annual average more than doubled to 5,421
- RPD arrests in 1942: 10,910
- RPD arrests in 1943: 16,854 (Public drunkenness accounted for 20%)
- RPD arrests in 1944: 43,754
The RPD officers of the 1940's characterized the "hardened lawbreakers" of their era as "drunks, knifers, rapers, attackers, hop-heads, harlots, wife-beaters and murderers." RPD Officers were charged with the dual responsibilities of combating crime and upholding "custom and matters of taste." This meant in practical terms that in addition to sweeping the streets of "drunks and other undesirables," police officers also routinely cleaned up broken glass from downtown MacDonald Avenue sidewalks. Some traditions and responsibilities have obviously evolved over time.
The city depicted in the traditional RPD patch is actually Richmond's sister city, Shimada, Japan.
Lewis Emmett Jones served as Richmond's fifth police chief. He was appointed to the department in 1914 and contributed 33 years of service. He assumed the duties of police chief May 15, 1933 and served in that capacity until spring 1947, when he retired. Jones appears in this 1922 department photograph, taken in front of the original police headquarters in Point Richmond. Jones is third from the left.
Although James P. Arnold was the first Chief of Police appointed under the charter, he certainly wasn't the last. Once he took office on July 6, 1909 the Richmond Police Department was officially "born." Our department has produced a distinguished list of proud and accomplished law enforcement leaders.
Richmond Chiefs of Police:
- James P. Arnold: July 1909 to July1914
- Charles H. Walker: July 1914 to August 1919
- W. H. Wood: August 1919 to Spring 1924
- Dan Cox: Spring 1924 to May 1933
- Lewis Emmett Jones: May 1933 to 1947
- Wymann W. Vernon: December 1948 to October 1949
- Ernest F. Phipps: October 1949 to June 1955
- Charles E. Brown: June 1955 to February 1968
- Robert B. Murphy: May 1968 to April 1971
- Lourn G. Phelps: May 1971 to August 1974
- Leo C. Garfield: November 1974 to September 1983
- Earnest R. Clements: September 1983 to December 1993
- William M. Lansdowne: June 1994 to August 1998
- Edward Duncan: August 1998 to August 1999 (Interim)
- Joseph Samuels Jr: Sep 1999 to August 2003
- Charles Bennett: August 2003 to December 2004 (Interim)
- Terry Hudson: January 2005 to January 2006 (Interim)
- Christopher J. Magnus: January 2006 to January 2016
- Allwyn Brown: January 2016 to August 2020
- Bisa French: August 2020 to present
Ten dedicated Richmond Police Officers have made the ultimate sacrifice during our century of service.
The RPD fallen are:
Officer Bertram Lou Agnew End of Watch: April 29, 1942
On April 29th, 1942, Officer Agnew was positioning barricades around an open manhole when he was struck by a drunk driver. Officer Agnew suffered severe trauma from the collision, and succumbed to injuries. He was 39 years old.
Officer Michael J. Nugent End of Watch: January 1, 1946
Officer Nugent was shot and killed while responding to a burglar alarm at a drug store. He was shot by the owner of the business who mistook him for a burglar. Officer Nugent was 34 years old.
Lieutenant Frank Joseph Cutshall End of Watch: January 11, 1953
Lieutenant Cutshall responded to a bar fight and apprehended several suspects. Immediately after the arrests, Lieutenant Cutshall suffered a heart attack, collapsed and passed away. He was 41 years old. Lieutenant Cutshall has served with the Richmond Police Department for eleven years and was survived by his wife and two children.
Officer Charles Ross End of Watch: February 9, 1964
Officer Ross was killed during a call for service, as he attempted to arrest two intoxicated 19-year-old men. During the arrest, the suspects fought with the Officer, one suspect was able to take Officer Ross’s firearm out of his holster, and shot Officer Ross with his own duty firearm. Officer Ross succumb to his injuries that same day. Both suspects were eventually convicted of killing Officer Ross, each receiving a life sentence in prison. Officer Ross was 30 years old and was survived by his wife and two children.
Officer Danny M. Cariker End of Watch: January 1,1970
Officer Danny Cariker was killed in an automobile accident while responding to a request to backup other officers at a man with a gun call. While responding, Officer Cariker’s patrol car left the road and struck a utility pole. Officer Cariker had served with the Richmond Police Department for two years. He was 29 years old and was survived by his wife and daughter.
Officer Ronald H. Fuller End of Watch: July 5, 1984
On July 5, 1984, Officers William Whitty and Ronald Fuller were on a surveillance mission related to a narcotics trafficking case. Both officers were flying in the Richmond Police Department Cessna 182 aircraft, with Officer Whitty piloting the plane. During the mission flight, both Officers were involved in a midair collision with another aircraft. The Richmond Police Department plane crashed and both officers died as a result of the collision. Officer Fuller was a 10 year veteran of the Richmond Police Department and had worked for about a year in the narcotics investigations unit. He was 35 years old and was survived by his wife Vickie and three children.
Officer William C. Whitty End of Watch: July 5, 1984
On July 5, 1984, Officers William Whitty and Ronald Fuller were on a surveillance mission related to a narcotics trafficking case. Both officers were flying in the Richmond Police Department Cessna 182 aircraft, with Officer Whitty piloting the plane. During the mission flight, both Officers were involved in a midair collision with another aircraft. The Richmond Police Department plane crashed and both officers died as a result of the collision. Officer Whitty was a 14 year veteran of the Police Department, and was named as 1977’s Officer of the Year. Officer Whitty lived in Richmond all of his life and active in a large number of community organizations. He was 35 years old, and was survived by his wife Pamela and two children.
Officer Leonard Walter Garcia End of Watch: December 28, 1992
On December 28, 1992, in the early morning hours, Richmond Police Officers Leonard Garcia and David Haynes responded to a domestic violence call involving a hostage situation in the city’s Southern District. The suspect’s daughter had called the police after hiding in a bedroom. Officer Haynes and Garcia helped her out of her bedroom and then entered the house to try to get the other family members free. The suspect opened fire on the Officers and then shot and wounded his ex-wife and son before committing suicide. Officer Garcia and Officer Haynes were killed from the gunshot wounds they sustained. Officer Garcia was 31 years old. He served with the Richmond Police Department for six years.
Officer David Thomas Haynes End of Watch: December 28, 1992
On December 28, 1992, in the early morning hours, Richmond Police Officers Leonard Garcia and David Haynes responded to a domestic violence call involving a hostage situation in the city’s Southern District. The suspect’s daughter had called the police after hiding in a bedroom. Officer Haynes and Garcia helped her out of her bedroom and then entered the house to try to get the other family members free. The suspect opened fire on the Officers and then shot and wounded his ex-wife and son before committing suicide. Officer Garcia and Officer Haynes were killed from the gunshot wounds they sustained. Officer Haynes had served with the Richmond Police Department for eight years and was 30 years old. He was survived by his wife, two children and parents.
Officer Bradley Alan Moody End of Watch: October 7, 2008
On October 4, 2008, Officer Bradley Alan Moody and his canine partner Rico were responding to an emergency call for help from another Richmond Police Officer requesting back up at the scene of an assault. While driving to the scene, Officer Moody lost control of his patrol car on Marina Bay Parkway at Regatta Boulevard. Officer Moody fought for his life for the next three days until he succumbed to his injuries on October 7, 2008. Officer Moody was an organ donor and his organs have been donated so that others may have a second chance in life. Officer Moody had served with the Richmond Police Department for seven years. Officer Moody was 29 years old and was survived by his wife, two daughters, his parents James and Elizabeth, brother James, sister-in-law Michelle and one niece and one nephew.
Sergeant Virgil Lynn Thomas End of Watch: August 20, 2020
Sergeant Virgil Thomas died after contracting the COVID-19 virus during a call for service. Beginning in early 2020, thousands of law enforcement officers and other first responders throughout the country began to contract COVID-19 during the worldwide pandemic. Due to the nature of their job, law enforcement officers were required to work and interact with the community even as the majority of the country was self-quarantined. As a result, hundreds of Officers died from COVID-related illnesses and other complications. Sergeant Thomas had served with the Richmond Police Department for twenty-four years. He was survived by his wife and four children. Sergeant Thomas was fifty one years old.
We honor the devoted service and sacrifice of these Richmond officers and pay lasting tribute to their memories through resolute attention to duty and our continuous efforts to elevate the police profession.
History of the Richmond Police Department here.
Commemorating 100 years of service.
"Acknowledging the Past. Perfecting the Present. Poised for the Future."
Watch a short video of the RPD Centennial Celebration here.
The slide show below includes images from the RPD Centennial Celebration
at the Richmond Marina on May 15, 2009.
The images are courtesy of Ellen Gailing Photography.