Anaheim Police Officer Rick Martinez vividly remembers sitting around a table in 1988 with members of the Los Angeles Police Association when the newest volume of the Los Angeles Police Department’s historical yearbook was being passed around.
Then it occurred to him — over 100 years old at the time, the Anaheim Police Department also had a rich history, but none of it was ever recorded.
“I said, ‘Why don’t we do something like that at the (Anaheim Police) Department,’” recalls Martinez, who is now retired.
Armed with a thirst for information, Martinez set out to chronicle the century-old history of the Anaheim Police Department.
Now, as the Anaheim Police Department celebrates its 150th anniversary, Martinez is nearly finished with a fourth volume, which includes the history of the police department from 1870 through the present.
“Anaheim is a big city but we don’t think of it as a big city like the city of Los Angeles,” Martinez said. “But you look at the historical perspective, and when you look at the formation of California, it being the second city in Southern California to be established, and the PD is anywhere from 25 to 30 years older than the police department in any other city in Orange County. For me, and I think for many of us in the department, it’s important to recognize this historical significance.”
The first volume was released in 1993. A second, updated edition was completed in 2007 and a third in 2013.
A year ago, Anaheim PD put together a committee to plan for the department’s 150th anniversary.
The Anaheim Police Association asked Martinez to create a new, up-to-date hardbound history book.
When Martinez started the first historical reference book in 1988, little documentation was available.
“I had to start from scratch,” Martinez said. “We had no idea what our history was. Nobody ever bothered to write it down or save stuff.”
Martinez, who was a detective at the time, spent more than two years visiting the history room at the Anaheim Library, where he began piecing together significant events over the prior decades of the evolution of the police department.
He scoured through official documents, photographs, newspaper clippings and magazine articles.
He performed ancestry research and conducted interviews with historians, along with current and past members of the department.
“It took a long time to piece this thing together,” Martinez said. “The history is pretty rich when you look at 150 years going back to the start. There are really some fascinating stories that I think people should read, especially people who work there.”
The book contains a timeline of every chief, starting with the appointment of David Davis in 1870 and ending with the tenure of the current Chief Jorge Cisneros.
Locals may be surprised to know that Anaheim was originally a territory on land located in Los Angeles County.
Orange County was not formed until 39 years after the formation of Anaheim, so much of the early history of the police department falls under the history of Los Angeles County, Martinez said.
“As I look back at the 32 years I’ve been doing the research… there’s been so many little surprises,” he said.
For example, in 2018 Martinez discovered that Rudolph Bohn, the ninth town marshal of Anaheim, was the second officer to die in the line of duty.
“Here’s a guy who gave his life for his community and nobody even knew about it in recent history,” Martinez said.
While conducting research, Martinez learned a sergeant in the 1930s and 40s named Al Hoxie was a silent film star and stuntman.
Martinez discovered that James Boulden, who served as chief from 1928 to 1942, had been a first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 1920s and probably remained as a baseball scout as he was serving as chief of police.
Boulden is believed to have been responsible for getting the Philadelphia Athletics baseball team to hold spring training at La Palma Park for three seasons.
Much of the department’s history is also linked to significant events in the city’s history.
The book chronicles the birth of Disneyland and the new challenges the theme park would create for the police department.
The Los Angeles Angels moving to Anaheim also presented opportunities for police services.
“There are a lot of great successes but also stories of human failures,” Martinez said. “I think people within an organization need to see where they came from, so they know where they are going and don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.”
The book includes anecdotes that are humorous by today’s standards.
When Mabel Griffith was hired as a desk sergeant in 1925, becoming the department’s first-ever female police officer, a newspaper article recorded the historic occasion as follows:
“Being arrested in Anaheim will now have its attractive points because the first person to greet the new guests will be a charming, blond-haired young woman.”
In the final pages of the book, Martinez points out that Anaheim, with a population of nearly 350,000, is the 10th largest municipality in the state.
Today, Anaheim Police Department has close to 400 sworn officers, making it the second-largest law enforcement agency in the county behind the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
Who knows when, but it seems possible there will one day be a fifth volume detailing the history of the department.
The book ends with the words: “History to be continued.”