History of Law Enforcement

History of Law EnforcementThe earliest records of an Escondido law enforcement agency are from 1888, when the City became incorporated. The "Police Department" consisted of one lawman who held the title of City Marshal. He also acted as the dog catcher, street superintendent, gas street lamp lighter, and then plumber. The first Chief of Police, Andrew F. "Andy" Andreasen, was appointed in 1928. That is when the Department began to develop in size, with the rigid enforcement of the Volstead Act (prohibition of liquor) in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

During Lloyd "Lefty" Mitchell's tenure as Chief of Police (1947-1956), the Police Department became departmentalized and modernized. Mitchell instituted training programs and a merit system for advancements in rank and pay, setting high professional standards. During this time, Escondido's Mounted Police Posse was formed, and the Escondido Police Motorcycle Drill Team was organized, starting with nine motorcycles.

The exact location of Escondido's first jail is open to question. Most of those arrested in the early days were held for a short time for minor infractions. Those sentenced to long terms were transferred to the County jail in San Diego.

History of Law EnforcementWhen the City Hall was established on the south side of Grand Avenue, between Juniper and Kalmia streets, a small building in the rear served as the City jail until the late 1930s. A small room in the northwest corner of City Hall was the Police Department headquarters. When there were three people in the room, it was crowded. In 1938, when the new City Hall at 100 Valley Boulevard was constructed of adobe, a police headquarters and jail were built shortly afterward, also of adobe, north of and immediately adjacent to the City Hall. The headquarters room wasn't much larger, but there were a few more cells.

Plans for a new Police Department at 700 West Grand Avenue, the first split from City Hall, were prepared by Robert D. Wolford, assistant police chief. He was in charge of two phases of construction. The first phase was building of the lower floor. It was built and occupied in 1976. In 1982, a second story was added.

The Department has come a long way since then in the amount of employees as well as services provided. The Escondido Police Department has 170 sworn police personnel and 69 non-sworn support personnel who provide a variety of services to the citizens of Escondido.