When Napa was incorporated in 1872, there were only ten miles of city streets within its boundaries. These ten miles (since swollen to 165 miles) became the birthplace of the Napa Police Department.
The city’s first law enforcement officer was Ebenezer Biggs, the Town Marshal. The Marshal's duties were both criminal and civil in nature; in addition to arresting law breakers he was also called on to supervise street repairs, collect taxes, assess taxes, impound stray animals, issue dog tags, serve civil papers, and so forth.
The original Napa Police Department was founded in 1875. It consisted of the city's first Chief of Police, Jerome B. Walden; Marshal Thomas Earl; patrolmen E.S. Gridley, William Border, Charles M. Laughlin, and night watchmen Martin Guhn and George Hart.
The Chief earned the princely sum of $100 a month. Marshal Earl received $500 per year and the patrolmen and night watchmen were each paid $75 a month. The night watchman’s main duties were preventing burglaries and sounding the alarm if a fire was observed.
On June 20, 1876 to entire Police Department was disbanded, but was re-established on July 1 that same year, minus a full-time Chief of Police. When it was re-established the town marshal was named Chief of Police by the town trustees; this practice continued until 1909. There were nine men who served the dual job of Marshal/Chief of Police. The Napa Police Department was awarded its corporate seal in 1877.
The last Marshal was N.E. Boyd, whose term began in 1907. When the job of Marshal was abolished in 1909 Boyd became the first full-time Chief of Police since 1876. Chief Boyd resigned in 1919.
The police officers in 1908 were ordered to wear the following style uniform: slouch hat with braid around band; double-breasted coat of blue material, with double row of brass buttons down front; trousers of same material as coat. The officers were also required to wear their stars on the left breast of their outer garment.
At the time of Boyd's resignation, the offices of Police Chief and Fire Chief were combined as an economy measure after a contentious argument between members of the City Trustees. C.F. Otterson, the Fire Chief, filled both offices and was paid $200 a month for his dual role ($160 for Fire Chief and $40 for Police Chief). Chief Otterson was required to provide and maintain at his own expense an automobile for use by both departments. Chief Otterson served as Police Chief until 1922.
Chief Alexander Herritt was appointed in 1922, serving during the great depression and prohibition eras. He served as Chief until January 1933, when he suffered a massive heart attack while on duty and died. He was able to turn the ignition off on the vehicle he was driving and safely steer to the curb before succumbing.
- Next >>